High School and Senior Portrait Photography Tips

With a few helpful portrait photography tips and just a little open-mindedness, creativity and patience, you can work together with your teen for photo results that will please everyone. Photographing older children and teens, although challenging, can be extremely gratifying. Younger children may become restless or bored while being photographed, while teens are often eager to get great photos to share with friends or post online. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

Photograph younger teens in groups to alleviate awkwardness or uneasiness in front of the camera. Friends provide support and confidence for everyone in the group, creating a diversion and encouraging spontaneity. With groups of kids, don't concentrate so much on posing them. Just make sure they are positioned so that everyone can be seen, then take several shots of them just being themselves.

Let kids contribute their own ideas about how they want to be photographed. Clothing, makeup and hairstyles are top priority for teens. Let them express themselves. Your teen will likely have ideas for locations and backgrounds, such as a specific room in the house or a favorite hangout. Do not dismiss these ideas for "better" ones of your own.

Watch your backgrounds. For an indoor shot, select a background that reflects who your teen is, such as that wall of posters or teddy bears on the bed. You might even decide to rig up a small home studio. If so, remember to experiment with lighting. Ttry natural light from a window, reflected light (using a reflector or a large piece of white poster board) or light bounced from the ceiling.

For an outdoor shot, look for a simple background such as a fallen tree, a rustic fence or a snowy backdrop. Again, if your teen has opinions about the background, do your best to accommodate. As always, plan your lighting. Watch for shadows on faces, especially on bright, sunny days. Opt for shady areas or use a reflector or fill-in flash. Backlighting can provide a softer, more romantic feeling.

Consider your child's interests. Photograph your teen pursuing one of his or her hobbies, such as playing chess, painting or working on a model. Or include a prop that illustrates a favorite activity, such as a musical instrument or a sports car.

Experiment with different angles. Even with group shots, don't be afraid to move in close for individual portraits. Get plenty of candid shots for some surprisingly great photographs.

Consider using black and white photography for unique portraiture opportunities. Most digital cameras have a black and white photo mode option, or your photos can be converted to grayscale using any basic photographic software. Use unusual directional lighting and angles for especially striking effects. Whether you are working with film images in a darkroom or on your home computer, black and white photography offers great latitude for altering exposure and tonal range to get a really dramatic image. Give it a try.

Treat your teenager on equal terms. Take care to not talk down to older children while working with them. Converse with them as the young adults that they are as you determine their interests and goals and how they would like to be portrayed in a photograph.

With a bit of practice, you will be ready to create your teen's senior portrait when the time finally comes. Besides saving money, you will have a unique opportunity to spend quality time with your child creating a very special memory. Be sure to give your teen total input as to how he or she would like to be portrayed. Be patient and take your time-more than one photographic session will likely be necessary. By using the above tips and your combined creativity, together you can create the perfect senior portrait.

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