7 Tips for Taking the Best Senior Portrait

There are a slew of important aspects related to your senior year of high school, but one that's often overlooked is the senior portrait.

We're not talking about the ones that go in the yearbook where you and your peers are practically wearing the exact same thing (you know what we're talking about), oh no. The senior portrait we're referring to is the one that's used for your graduation announcements, gets a full-page spread in the back of the yearbook and can make you a social media sensation—if done properly, of course.

So what do you need to do to take the best senior portraits your graduating class has ever seen? Scroll below and we'll give you all the tips you need!

1. Practice Your Smile

Your face is the focal point of the photo, so if your smile looks the slightest bit forced or uncomfortable, people will notice right away. Whether you like to show off your pearly whites with a huge grin from ear to ear, or prefer to keep things soft and coy with a closed-lip grin, practice in front of a mirror so you get a better understanding of how it'll look in a photo. Be sure to try out a few different smiles, too, because you may prefer a new one over your usual go-to.

It's also important to note that you should be practicing your smile while you're all dolled up in your chosen outfit and preferred hair and makeup stylings for the shoot. Because the smile you may think looks best might not go with the look your overall look. We know this sounds like a lot, but it's so worth the effort.


2. Know Your Angles

Along with fine-tuning your smile, it's also critical you know your angles. This way, your photographer won't have to spend most of the time posing you and less time snapping pics. Again, practice makes perfect.

It may sound like a lot of pressure to do this, but remember, no one expects you to turn it out like America's next top model. You're not Tyra Banks, so don't feel like you need to remember every bit of advice she gave to the aspiring models during your binge-watching session. It's all about doing what feels natural, but also what showcases you in the absolute best way possible. When in doubt, ask your besties for their opinions. They'll be the first ones to tell you if you look straight-up fierce or need some work.

Karen Gillan taking a selfie in the TV show Selfie

(Selfie via ABC)


3. Wear What Makes You Feel Comfortable

Hearing the word "portrait" brings about the connotation that these photos need to be as fancy as the ones they take at Buckingham Palace, but that's far from what's expected. While these pics will be a bit nicer than the candid snaps you take with your besties, you shouldn't feel like you need to be a beauty queen in a ball gown. Stick to what makes you feel comfortable and confident, then find little ways to dress it up—especially because what most of us find cozy is a hoodie and sweats combo.

Be sure to also have different outfit choices on hand the day of the shoot, so you can snap plenty of pics in a variety of poses and looks. It's always better to have too many options than not enough.


4. Don't Do Anything Dramatic to Your Appearance

We know there's always the urge to switch up your look right before a big photoshoot, but without a doubt, that's the worst time to make any sort of dramatic changes to your appearance. Don't cut 10 inches off your hair or get cheap extensions the night before. Don't wax your eyebrows or get a spray tan for the first time either. If something goes wrong and it only makes you look worse, and you did it right before the shoot, no matter how well you practiced your smile and those angles, it's not going to look pretty.

Still really want to change up your look? While we're still against it, we only urge giving yourself enough time beforehand to fix anything that goes haywire. The minimum amount of time before the shoot you're allowed to partake in a lil' makeover? Two weeks.

Laura Marano in Bad Hair Day

(Bad Hair Day via Disney Channel)


5. Find a Photographer You Trust

You could have everything together—the hair, the makeup, the outfits—but if you and your photographer aren't vibing, none of that will matter. Finding one you trust to bring your vision to life while also making you look like an 11/10 is crucial to the whole operation. Don't be afraid to shop around and interview a few before deciding on one.


6. Don't Rush It

When we say don't rush it, we mean the whole process. Don't wait until the last minute to figure out your poses, hair, makeup, outfits, photographer, etc. It won't set you up for success. And isn't that what you want?

All of the different elements that add up to taking the best senior portrait possible all take time and proper planning. You have to be willing to put in the effort to make sure it all comes together before, during and after.

If this all feels like too much, don't be afraid to ask for help—especially because your besties are dealing with this, too. Lean on each other when it becomes an unnecessary stressor.

Andy looking at clothes in The Devil Wears Prada

(The Devil Wears Prada via 20th Century Fox)


7. Get Creative

Most people's senior portraits tend to all look fairly similar. They're usually in nature, involve balloons or are shot in front of the school. While it's easy to follow in the same steps as everyone else, we encourage you to think outside the box. Sure, you can keep it safe for a handful of the photos, but don't be afraid to stand out from your peers. Take your pics at a super unique location or wear an outfit that's anything but basic. This is your chance to make a statement, so do it. And don't hold back.


For all you seniors out there, you'll definitely relate to THESE truths about being in your final year of high school.