How to plan what clothes to bring for a great senior session
Selecting outfits for senior pictures doesn’t have to be a difficult task. I always recommend starting in your closet – before you go to the store! Be sure to include a favorite t-shirt, top or jacket. If you LOVE it, bring it!
And also…you’ll want more than just clothes at your senior session – so don’t forget the accessories and layering options. There are some more specific ideas for outfits for guys senior pictures below – and links to how to have a successful session. Also, do not miss my senior portfolios to see samples of images I’ve done in the past.
Oh, and PRO TIP – hang your clothes inside out on the hangars to avoid those little hangar dimples that happen on the shoulders of some tops!
With a little help from your senior photographer, you can have a truly amazing session when you look at the clothes you might bring AND the places you might go together. Making sure your clothing works for the different locations can make a huge difference in the ending photos.
So, how do I select the outfits for senior pictures?
Obviously, start with the session type you are having and where it is, what time of day it is, and how creative you and the photographer are going to be during the session. Maybe you need 2 outfits, maybe you need a trunk load of outfits!
Basic outfits for senior pictures that never go wrong –
2-3 different tops
2-3 pants – think dark wash on jeans if possible!
a dress for girls
a dressy shirt for guys.
Additionally, if having a sport or hobby to incorporate be sure to bring the clothing to represent that, and any props needed as well. (footballs, gloves, books, instruments, etc)
Ok, how do I take my clothing outfits up a notch for my senior session?
It’s a great idea to have a few extra pieces of outfits for senior pictures – maybe a hat, scarf, purse, even an umbrella is a great idea. Something interesting, even out of the ordinary will make your photos uniquely YOU.
Jewelry is a simple place to start with accessorizing – pick something different for each outfit even. PRO TIP: put your jewelry into a baggie and hang it from the hangar of the outfit it goes with to make sure you have the right things for each outfit, being careful necklaces don’t tangle)
Simple things like bracelets and rings really bring different elements into a photo and can give a completely different “pose” option too.
Hats & scarves – while some aren’t comfortable with these accessories, if you are they make a quick and easy way to have another great look. A close up with a hat on draws attention straight to the eye, for example. A scarf can bring hands up and bring a beautiful bracelet into the image, which again will draw the viewer right into the subjects face.
Out of season clothing? – bring it! If it’s August but you love winter, bring a great jacket or hat. If it’s winer and you love summer, bring something short sleeved. A good photographer will get the images you want without you catching a cold from the exposure, or look sweaty in the summer.
So what shouldn’t you bring?
Most folks struggle with what to bring, besides a couple shirts or a pair of jeans. So here’s a short list of some things to think about when making your clothing choices:
-Large, really bold prints that might take away from your face
-Clothing that doesn’t define your body – if it’s too billowy or full it may look you bigger than you are…and most folks want to avoid that
-Too many fancy shoes – shoes are really hard to bring out in a photo, so if they are really important to you ask your photographer to highlight them but know that your feet are far from your face, so it’s either a full length image, or what I call a “supporting” image from your session. It’s usually not the image someone wants to buy for their home. Also, keep in mind the terrain you will be in at your location. You don’t want to ruin your favorite shoes!
-Short short skirts or dresses. They can limit so many sit down poses, because we really want to keep some areas covered. But more practically speaking, if your upper legs are all exposed be sure you like the way they look…because that area of skin is competition for other subject areas in the composition. Be sure to chat with your photographer, and for sure do not ONLY bring short skirts.
-Don’t bring things that will date your images – t-shirts with things on them you may not like next year, or in 30 years
Specifically for guys senior picture sessions – outfits for guys senior photos
Guys should never bring the same shirt in three patterns. Bring the one you like the most, the one that fits you the best. For some guys, a tailored shirt is more complimentary than a shirt that will bunch up or pull up out of jeans or pants. Additionally, shirts too large will pull up in the back and create a weird shoulder image most won’t like.
Do NOT bring only white socks if you have dark shoes. White socks are the #1 thing moms complain the most about in images where you are sitting and she sees the socks. It’s not an easy photoshop fix, so bring dark socks if possible as part of your outfits for senior pictures.
To get some great ideas for outfits, check out my senior portfolios on my website. Also note that the guys are much more relaxed, and therefore smile more naturally, when they are comfortable. So be sure to have outfits they like, and feel good in.
Keep in mind that guys senior photos are best when they have something to do with their hands and feet. I have a number of props that I use to have them sit, or lean, or crouch – giving them natural resting places for hands. Because of the nature of the way guys sit, some shorts will limit some of our options because we need to be careful what the “camera sees” in their photos. Also, if long pants or jeans pull up when they sit, white socks will GLARE at the camera. So give consideration to the sock/shoe combo in any outfit for guys.
Senior Picture Sessions will move fast – so be prepared with a clothing change plan for your clothing choices
Whether you are working in one single location, or moving around, you will be moving fast. Make sure you and your photographer set up a clothing change plan at the beginning of your session. So you aren’t putting the tight fitting dark wash jeans on, then off, then on again for another outfit. Planning for the clothing changes is REALLY important because you will stay tidier (hair & make up and even sweat), and you won’t be so tired or “done” with it all as fast.
Keep the session moving also means you see more DIFFERENT images, instead of the same outfit just from a different angle.
Bring more clothing choices than your senior session says you should
Because & your photographer might decide that the favorite outfit that you love to wear isn’t the best in a photograph…or in the park you decided (or your photographer decided) to go to for your session. From a style standpoint you might love an outfit…but if it looks out of place in the location, you won’t like the results. Senior sessions should have lots of what you love in them, but with a little guidance that hot pink skirt might look best in a light and airy place and not in a pile of fall leaves.
So always be prepared with an extra couple outfits for senior pictures. Just in case. But it’s always best to know exactly where you are going for your session so you can be truly prepared with extra clothing choice options. Be sure to ask the photographer about the location, what to expect for lighting during the session, and about where you will be changing clothes.
Your photographer might also provide guidance on the actual clothing choices. They should know the locations they are shooting in really well and know what works in each location, plus they will know the time of year and how the light works in each location. If you want light and airy field photos, for example – be sure they plan for the right time of day and know the angle of the sun at that time of day for that location. All of the details can change the resulting images dramatically. Light and airy can turn dark and moody very fast.
You might get some help with all of this
Some photographers offer direct consultations on your outfits for senior pictures…while this is interesting, it’s not really necessary to have someone come to your home to approve your outfits. You can share a Pinterest board, send photos of outfits etc and your photographer will be happy to provide feedback on your clothing choices.
But if you want to do something really creative, give your photographer a heads up with it before your session so they can be prepared with extra items like smoke bombs, extra props, etc. These are things that take some advance planning so you don’t want to wait until you get out of the car to show them a great idea you found on Pinterest that you really want that day.
I hope this helps you plan for your senior portrait session. A little planning goes a LONG way towards the results of a senior session being exactly what you want. And you want images that look like you, represent you, and in the end, that you feel a connection with in the process. It’s so much easier to relax and enjoy the time if you are all prepared.
Happy Senior Pictures Sessions all!
Sample images from some of my senior sessions at my senior website at: www.pattyschuchmanphotography.com
Want to know what I offer for senior sessions: Go directly to this page on my website at:
Want to get started planning YOUR senior session with me? The process starts here: Let’s get started
Check out this video of my Portrait Park and some of the resulting images taken in it to see some ideas of outfits and blending into the backgrounds:
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