How to Take More Considerate Senior Portraits

Ever wonder how you can elevate your senior portraits beyond the standard cap and gown pictures? Think about lifestyle photography the next time you book a senior portrait session.

It’s nearing the end of the senior portrait season for my company and looking back on the many unique senior shoots we had this year, it’s clear to me which are my favorite. While the typical cap and gown shot is often a requirement set forth by families, they’re also my least favorite to shoot. I don’t spend too much time focusing on those captures, and I think my clients have come to understand why. Instead, I focus more on lifestyle portraits for seniors, since to me, photos like this should be representative of who your subject is and where they come from. I just assume this makes the images more special to look back on years down the road and it’s these types of shoots that I enjoy most.

Consider Where You're From

Being based in a small town in rural Arizona, farming and ranching are a common way of life. I grew up here, and as I did, an influential love for the country wove itself deep within the fabric that makes up who I am. The way of life common in small towns and little communities all over the United States is something special, and many of my portraits reflect a little bit of that lifestyle as a result.

Consider When and How You Begin

Deciding when to schedule a shoot isn't all that difficult, given your schedule allows for some creative freedom. My favorite portraits are shot outdoors during the last hour to hour and a half of daylight. It’s then that the lighting is most pleasant and I’m able to achieve the warm tones that I’m fond of, with minimal effort. Oftentimes I begin shooting with my longest lens, a Nikon 70-200mm. This gives my subject a little bit of space as they get comfortable in front of the camera. Later, I work my way in closer with something like a 24-70mm for wider shots and a different perspective.


I’m a minimalist when it comes to equipment. If I have a point to make regarding gear, it’s to keep it simple stupid (KISS). Thinking like this has kept me out of trouble in terms of equipment related problems (for the most part) up to this point. For most of my portrait sessions, a single Nikon SB-910 speedlight and modifier is all I need for additional lighting equipment. As the sun sets below the horizon, I’ll typically add one more speedlight to the set as a backlight.

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May 23, 2017 by Enrique Lara
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