Senior Pictures: 9 Tips to Make Them Stress-Free

 Senior pictures can be such a fun moment in high school senior’s life and as a former high school senior photographer, I LOVED helping make this day special.  Over the years, we saw a trend of things that help a senior picture day go well and want to pass them on to all you amazing homeschool moms of teens for when it is your time.  

Senior Pictures: 9 Tips to Make Them Stress-Free

So, print this, pin this, save it for when it is your time, but I totally recommend EVERY one of these tips! 😊

Decide your budget ahead of time.

You will get rid of a lot of the overwhelm if you stay in budget.  Senior pictures represent such a pivotal moment in your child’s life.  They are about to cross the threshold of adulthood.  Sure, you want to capture it all and give them the moon, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to show them you care and think they are amazing.  The best thing you can do to show you care is just there.  Take them to their shoot.  Take them out for coffee afterward and tell them how proud you are of them.  THAT says so much more than any picture we could ever capture.

However, when it comes to photography, you often do get what you pay for.  So, on the cheaper side of things plan to spend around $250 for an hour shoot and a disc of pretty good images.  Plan to spend greater than $1000 for a more all-inclusive experience that includes multiple locations, many outfits, some fantastic images and fun products like senior books and custom-made grad cards.

I am throwing these numbers out there to help you begin to really figure out what you want your senior picture budget to look like.

Decide Your Style

After you decide your budget, it is time to decide the type of images you want and the location you want them in.  A great place to start is to think about the senior pictures you have seen recently that you *LOVED*.  Was it at a specific location or were they all done by a specific photographer?  Is that photographer in your budget?  If so, book them.


Do y’all want all senior pictures inside a professional studio? 

Do you want most the images to be captured outside in nature and on a Main Street somewhere? 

Do you have a special location that means the world to you for these pictures, like a grandparent’s house? 


Do you want all the images to be posed down to where the left pinky finger will sit on the sleeve?  For example: “I want to you sit like ‘this’ (doing the pose on the bench) right here on this bench and then I will make adjustments once you are sitting here”

Do you want a more relaxed approach?  Same example: “Go sit over there on that bench and look this way. Great, ok now smile.”

Pick Your Outfits

Outfits are a BIG DEAL.  The clothes your teen wears for their senior pictures really tell a lot about them and kind of captures in a time capsule of images who they were when they graduated high school. 

Are they a jeans and T-Shirt kind of teen?  Did they never wear the same outfit twice?  Did they enjoy being on trend?  What is your teen’s style?  Whatever “that” is should help decide what your teen will wear for their pictures.

My daughter, Hannah, actually went to most of our senior’s homes and raided their closet with them to pick the top 5 outfits that would be great for pictures and from there the senior would narrow down the selection. 

If your teen can’t decide what outfits would be best for the shoot, a do them a favor and help them decide.  Go through your senior’s drawers, closets, maybe even look through pictures on your phone of them – and put 3-5 outfits on their bed and have them pick the top 3 for senior pictures. 

Mom, at the same time, pick a “senior picture day” outfit for you too and make a point to at least grab a selfie of the two of you if the photographer doesn’t get one of the two of you.

Once the outfits are picked, go through each outfit and add any accessories that will make the outfit look just right.  Examples: a hat, certain shoes, earrings, a necklace, a certain lipstick.  For smaller accessories put them all in a Ziploc and stick the Ziploc on the hanger of the outfit.

Decide On The Hairstyle Ahead Of Time

For guys, this can be pretty easy, but you still want to make sure you have the gel he uses a week before the shoot.

For ladies, this could be ANYTHING!  Do you want your hair down for some and up for others?  If you want it up for some pictures, make sure you put the hair accessories in the Ziploc for that outfit also.  (Hunting for bobby pins in the middle of a shoot is not so much fun.) Do you want your hair curly or super straight?  What is the process for that? Do you need to visit the salon the morning of your shoot to get a Blow Out or get it curled just right or can you do it yourself a few hours before the shoot?

Planning ahead of time is important.  Salons can fill up fast, so you might make the appointment as soon as you decide the date of the shoot.  Knowing the salon has an appointment for you that day or that you have all the hair products at home just waiting to be used takes out much-unneeded stress.

Make It Personal

This senior shoot is all about capturing them before they head into adulthood.  What better way to remember their roots than incorporate them into some of the images? 

Some examples that work well are: Quilts made my grandma’s and great grandma’s.  Necklaces that have been passed down.  Once, I had one senior, who had inherited his grandfather’s record player and records, bring them to a shoot. 

Another way to make the images personal is have your furry friend join you for pictures.

Practice Makes Comfortable


This is going to sound silly, but I completely recommend it.  Take a few minutes every day and practice making smiling faces and serious faces in the mirror.  LOL, only at senior shoots will you hear, “ok, now smile…. A little more relaxed.  Ok, great.” *click*  Or, “Ok, I love this image, but can you give me a serious face? Great” *click*


Being confident in what your face will look like when asked to smile and be serious on demand will take a lot of the awkwardness out of the shoot.


Get A Good Sleep The Night Before

Seniors are so goofy at this time in their life.  They think they can live on 4 hours of sleep and no one will notice, but I PROMISE YOU – the camera will notice if your teen hasn’t had much sleep and the images will reflect that.  They will look tired and put out most of the shoot.

So, if you can, get them to get a good 8-10 hours of sleep the night before the shoot.

Take The Day Off And Be Early To The Appointment

This one ties nicely into #8 because your teen will not only look well rested if they get a good night’s sleep, but they will also look rested if they don’t have to deal will “school life” that day.  As homeschoolers, honestly this is not as big of a deal, but for public school teens, I can’t recommend this enough. Take the day off!

Followed by, leave early and take your time heading to the shoot.  Nothing frazzles a mom and senior more than bickering and running late for pictures.  And I hate to say it, but it will show in the images.  Breathe. Relax. Listen to music. Do what you need to do to arrive at the shoot on time and happy to be there.

Be Present


Both you and your teen decide ahead of time to silence your phones and put them away for the shoot.  You want your teen to enjoy the shoot and be in that moment.  And truth mama, they want you to be in the moment watching this milestone.  It’s kind of a big deal to them. 😉

On a side note: If you want to take ONE behind the scenes pic of the senior shoot, we get that. But do it while the photographer is posing your senior.  Not while the photographer is trying to capture the image of the senior.  For one thing, it completely distracts the senior and they aren’t sure which “camera” to look at and smile for.  And secondly, you are missing the moments from trying to capture them. 

Mom, you have done a great job raising this teen. So, sit back and enjoy this moment.  You’ve got this!

On the journey with you,

-melissa :)

Melissa is the creator of LIFE 101 PRO, a subscription service that provides life skill lessons to teachers and moms to help prepare teens for adulthood and leave home as LIFE 101 PROs!


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