8 Do’s and Don’ts for Perfect Senior Portraits

I think we can all agree we’ve been spoiled the past few weeks with some incredibly beautiful and unexpected warm weather (though there have been some exceptions, as I write this it’s currently 27 degrees out). Since this surprisingly short winter has translated into an early season for family, engagement, and senior portraits, today I’m sharing my pro-tips for a successful senior portrait session. (Click here for a refresher on how to get the perfect family portraits and do’s and don’ts for engagement photography.)


Meet with the photographer prior to your session. You need to become comfortable with the person behind the camera. This is key to opening up during your session so the photographer can capture the “real you.”

Choose multiple outfits. Talk to your photographer, friends, or even a professional stylist to help you choose outfits, cuts, and colors that flatter you best. Stay away from bold patterns as these tend to overpower the shot. For young women, bring multiple footwear options. I suggest at least one pair of heels, but bring flats to walk for location changes. Finally, make sure your undergarments do not show (think bra straps or colored underwear).

Tell your photographer your hobbies and interests. I love to incorporate my client’s hobbies and interests into the shoot. This is just one more way to personalize your images. Do you play sports? Is there a favorite spot that’s near and dear to you? Do you have a dog or cat that you would like to include in your session? Let us know! We want to make you as comfortable as possible to show your true colors.

Allow time for multiple locations. Don’t stick to just one location — you will be disappointed, I promise. Different locations allow for varied lighting and color play with your outfits and skin tone. Allow your photographer to choose the locations, however feel free to give them suggestions.

Invite a friend (or friends!) to join you. This is becoming more common. Have a joint session to capture memories with you bestie (or besties) before heading off to college. Not only will you capture the memories, but the shots will be more natural as you tend to feel more comfortable and relaxed when the attention isn’t solely on you.

Make a Pinterest board. Look at Pinterest and Instagram from inspiration and ideas. Share the board with your photographer to allow the creative process to begin prior to the shoot. Don’t expect your photographer to copy the images you send them, rather allow them to review and personalize for your session.


Overdo it on hair and makeup. Keep yourself looking natural and don’t try anything new! The exception to this rule: if you normally wear limited or no makeup, apply more blush and mascara than you normally would. The added blush will ensure you don’t look washed out, and the extra coat of mascara will help your eyes “pop.”

Take the session too seriously. If you take one thing away from my suggestions, it should be this. Never take any photo session too seriously! Personally, I’m quite a jokester at sessions and I tend to make them feel more like a hang out session rather than a professional photo sitting. If you are uncomfortable and tense it will translate in the image. Loosen up and remember to have fun!

I’m currently booking clients for late April – early May, however there are a few early spots left! Contact me now to reserve yours. 

Chelsea, my lifestyle portrait employee, is accepting clients now as well. Check out her work and book your session today here

  • The latest from Sarah
Owner + Photographer | Sarah Marcella Creative
I started photographing after rupturing my spleen while I was in high school. Yeah, it sounds made up, but I swear I’m telling the truth. was in marching band and happened to fall on my saxophone. This incident made it impossible for me to march for the remainder of the season. So, I did what any bored high school teenager does — started taking self portraits (at that time the word “selfie” was not invented). Turns out, I really enjoyed it! I started photographing everything and everyone. After graduation, I decided to head to Shepherd University for photography & digital imagery. My passion continued to grow as I started to photograph more conceptual themes, primarily the way women are viewed in modern media and the over editing that happens in the fashion industry. This is what has influenced and inspired my current work.

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