For most parents with high school seniors, its been a pretty long while since you’ve had your senior portraits taken. I don’t want to rub it in or anything, but In some cases, it’s probably been 20 or 30 years or more since you sat in front of that camera in your high school gymnasium! And let me tell you, high school senior portraits have certainly changed A LOT since then!

No longer are high school seniors forced to live with run-of-the-mill portraits made by the school’s portrait photographer. Instead, these days high school seniors have a ton of options available to them from traditional studio sessions to outdoor fashion pictures.

Moreover, modern senior portraits are the perfect opportunity for your senior to show off their personality, character, pastimes, and hobbies. They also present a chance to preserve a lasting memory of who they are, right now, as they prepare to embark on this next journey that life has in store for them.

But, with so many options, things can quickly get overwhelming. And every year I get calls and emails from confused parents of high school seniors who just don’t know where to start!

Below are a few quick tips and some things to think about that you might find useful. Rest assured, I’m here to help!  I love getting your calls and emails and my job is to help you and your son or daughter at every step along the way.

Check out the information below, but if you need additional advice, don’t hesitate to contact me and I’m happy to spend as much time as you need answering questions and helping you and your high school senior plan and create beautiful senior portraits!  You can also click here to learn more about everything that is included in a high school senior portrait session with my studio.

Know your School’s Yearbook Deadline!

School yearbook portraits are just one small reason for creating beautiful high school senior portraits, but they seem to provide the motivation parents need to get their child’s senior portrait session scheduled. Every high school senior portrait session I offer includes an image for the school yearbook. We’ll be sure to get you a great shot for the yearbook, and then we can move on to more creative photographs you’ll want to display on your walls at home!

Deadlines for school yearbook submissions vary widely for each school, with some deadlines as early as October of your child’s senior year and some deadlines as late as February.  Be sure to check your school’s website or call the yearbook staff to determine your deadline. (You can also check to see if your school appears here.)

Remember, it takes about 2-3 weeks following your senior portrait session before the final images will be edited and available, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time. And, of course, we live in Oregon! So, the weather come fall starts to be unpredictable and can create challenges when scheduling your high school senior portrait session.  Planning your child’s senior pictures for July, August, or September will guarantee that you get the images you want and leave you feeling much less stressed!

Understand your High School Senior’s Schedule!

Today’s high school seniors are busier than ever before. In school and out of school, their schedules are packed with extracurricular activities like soccer, football, drama, dance, 4-H, church and more! Sometimes these activities can conflict with the best times to create senior portraits, especially if you are looking for beautiful outdoor photographs. In photography, there is a concept called the “golden hour” which is the hour or two just before sunset or just after sunrise. At those times, the sun is low in the sky and creates beautiful warm light that is perfect for senior portraits.

Now, we don’t have to have your portraits taken during those times. In fact, a good photographer will be able to create strong images in any light that is available. But, I do prefer to shoot during those times where possible so we can create that look that so many of my clients really want. So, unless your child is an early riser (and so few high school students are), we’re likely going to want to shoot during the evening hours. That means working around your child’s sports and activities schedule or scheduling your session on a weekend (and those dates fill up fast).  Be sure to start the conversation about your son or daughter’s high school senior portraits as soon as possible so we’ll have plenty of time to schedule your portrait session.

Don’t fight, compromise with your high school senior!

As a photographer, I like to make people happy. And that includes both you as a parent and your high school senior! Surprise, surprise, sometimes parents and high school students don’t always like the same things. Seniors often want cool, edgy pictures with hip clothing, and moms want those beautiful traditional portraits of their smiling child. I’m here to tell you that you can give your child what they really want, and still get what you need! All of my portrait sessions include unlimited outfit changes, so there’s plenty of opportunities to create portraits for both you and your high school senior!

Now, of course, we need to stay age appropriate, but I encourage you to strike a deal with your high school senior. Let them design some of their portraits the way that they want. Let them be creative and show off their individuality and style. In exchange, they have to agree to suck it up and also take some of those classic images in the style of your choosing. (And you can leave it up to me to coax that beautiful smile from them!) That way everyone is happy, and chances are great that you’ll both end up loving each other’s images.

There’s a difference between Venus and Mars!

Boy and girls often approach their high school senior portraits differently, and that’s going to require a bit of patience and understanding on your part as a parent.

For high school senior girls, senior portraits can be much more stressful than you might imagine, especially due to the pressure that our society puts on young girls. Outfit choices, hair & makeup aside, your senior girls is probably worried about what they are going to feel like posing in front of the camera or whether they will look awkward. I’m here to help your daughter through all of that. Moreover, I am committed to making sure your high school senior girl has a fun and empowering experience that will not just make her look great, but feel beautiful too.

And, one of the things you might consider doing to reduce the stress on your senior girl is to take her shopping (yes, I’m being serious)! Turn the high school senior portrait process into an experience for both of you. This can be a chance to create some bonding moments with your daughter, especially at an age when those opportunities are so rare.

And if you’ve got a senior boy, well, let’s talk! Senior boys can sometimes be a challenge. But, I have an advantage in that I was once a stubborn high school senior boy too!  I can promise your son that I will make his portrait session as quick and pain-free as possible,  We’ll make him look cool and, while he will never admit it, he might even end up having fun!  You might also ask yourself a question that only you can answer: “would we be more likely to get natural portraits of your senior boy if his mom isn’t around?”  For some high school senior boys, a mano e mano session is the best guarantee of success!

High school senior portrait of boy in urban setting and graffiti wall.

Share your hopes and dreams!

The more you and your high school senior can share with me, the better I will be able to help you create the senior portrait session of your dreams. I want to know every detail of your child’s life story – what they like to do, where they’ve been, and what they want to become.  Don’t hesitate to share the stories that only you know that define your child’s personality – you’re not going to bore me, you’re helping me help you design a portrait session that will be memorable and unique. There’s no such thing as too much information when it comes to high school senior portraits, so now is definitely the time to be a proud parent and brag about your child.

Similarly, I want to know about you and why you want these portraits of your high school senior.  Let’s talk about how to use them and where you might display them in your home.  With some advance planning, we can create portraits with color schemes that will match the decor of your house.  Or we can shoot with the intent of creating that perfect gift for grandma.  I am here to serve you in every way, and that goes far beyond just showing up on a particular day to photograph your high school senior.

And remember,  I have a mission to capture this time in your high school senior’s life, not just for you, but for your child’s children and grandchildren. This year, we’re not just going to take a senior portrait, we’ll be creating a family heirloom that will be passed on for generations.

Click here to learn more about high school senior portrait sessions with Brian Pasko Photography.