In ten years time, most high schoolers are unlikely to remember the final grade they got in Biology class their senior year or remember who they sat next to in Spanish class for two years. But one thing they will remember is their prom night. It is an event that high schoolers look forward to every year as it is their chance to dress-up, go out for dinner/date and dance the night away. But before heading off, photos need to be snapped so they can remember this night for years to come. Because everyone has put so much thought and work into planning outfits, hair and make-up, equal time and thought should be put into planning the photos as well.
Plan (Far) in Advance
Whoever is taking the photos should plan well in advance. Have a timeline in place to avoid everyone rushing around and let people know exactly where they need to be and when. Part of this planning should include scouting out locations that have clean backgrounds and compliment the couple and their interests. If they are both into golf, head to a golf course where there are rolling greens in the background. If they are into baseball, head to a nearby park that has a field.
Make sure you have appropriate lighting equipment, charged batteries and empty SD cards ready to go. The last thing you want is to have everyone perfectly posed only for your camera to flash the awful low battery sign.
Find a Great Background
As mentioned previously, having a clean background is essential. Look for shrubs, greenery, flowers or trees. Wherever you set up the pose, make sure the couple isn’t standing directly in front of the background, rather have them take a good few feet forward so there is plenty of depth in the photo. Keep an eye out for unwanted objects in the background and move the couple or yourself accordingly so that there aren’t any flagpoles, doors or people in the background.
Consider the Lighting
Lighting should be considered during the preparation stage. Ask yourself what time of day the photos will be taken. Will there be a sunset? Will the sun be harsh and create strong shadows on the faces? Do you need to bring a fill light and/or reflector? Do you need an assistant to hold the reflector? Consider creating your own alternative light if you don’t have access to other appropriate lighting equipment or if you just want to try something new.
How about using a few candles or lanterns to brighten up the photos and add more dimension? If you can’t go outdoors for whatever reason, avoid using the on-camera flash indoors. This will create extremely harsh shadows and won’t be very complimentary towards its subjects. Instead, bounce light off of the ceiling or use a fill-flash or some type of diffuser in front of the light source.
Try Out Some Poses
Posing can be somewhat awkward for both the photographer and the subjects. But if you put them at ease and make them feel comfortable, their smiles will hopefully come across more naturally. Try some goofy poses with couples, or listen to their suggestions for poses. Avoid having couples intertwine their hands as this can come across a bit messy in the photo. Rather, have them hold fingertips or gently hold hands.
For large groups, pose everyone on different levels engaging in different poses. This is a much more visually interesting rather than having the traditional two straight lines across. Try and make a funny joke before you take the photos just to loosen everyone up.
Make it Candid
Rather than posing them, another option is to take a more photojournalistic approach and catch candid photos. One way of doing this is by following a prom group through their preparation and meeting of their date and friends. It is a great way to show more individual personality and show off the uniqueness of the couple rather than having it look like every other prom photo.