Saturday, August 15, 2015

Five tips for DIY senior pictures

Posted By on Sat, Aug 15, 2015 at 7:04 AM

click to enlarge This senior loves baseball, so we incorporated his bat into senior photographs at sunset at the Garden of the Gods. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • This senior loves baseball, so we incorporated his bat into senior photographs at sunset at the Garden of the Gods.

It’s that time of year again, and every senior needs one picture for the yearbook and a bunch of others to show friends.

It’s popular to hire a photographer to do this for you, but there’s no reason you can’t do it yourself — as long as your child is willing to take direction from you. 

Here are five helpful tips for photographing your senior and saving a little extra money to put toward that graduation gift.

Tip #1: Photograph your senior in the late afternoon. As the sun gets lower in the sky, the light becomes softer and more pleasing. Photographing at that time of day is the most flattering. On a sunny afternoon at the Garden of the Gods, don’t be afraid to shoot into the sun and “backlight” your subject. Just be sure to shade your lens so you don’t have any flare from the sunlight. For a really dramatic picture, photograph a silhouette of your senior using the same lighting key.

click to enlarge We made this image in the late afternoon at Rock Ledge Ranch. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • We made this image in the late afternoon at Rock Ledge Ranch.

Tip #2: Two outfits, plus props. Have a nice outfit for your senior to wear, but also let them wear clothes of their choice. As a parent, you have your own ideas of what looks nice, but your senior has their own ideas of what looks nice. Do both sets of clothes, and everyone’s happy. I also like to include props appropriate to them. If they play baseball, bring a bat. If they love to snowboard, bring a snowboard. With props photograph at an appropriate location. 

click to enlarge We drove up the Pikes Peak Highway to make this wide angle picture of her with her snowboard. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • We drove up the Pikes Peak Highway to make this wide angle picture of her with her snowboard.

Tip #3: Find a colorful background. Walls with graffiti can provide the perfect backdrop for a senior picture. The wall outside of Westside Tattoo comes to mind. Of course, late September is great for capturing fall color, too. Just make sure your senior's outfit doesn’t “clash” with the background; The busier or more colorful the background, the quieter and less colorful that outfit should be.

click to enlarge Photographed with colorful graffiti on a wall outside of Westside Tattoo. She wore a muted outfit to avoid clashing with the colorful background. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Photographed with colorful graffiti on a wall outside of Westside Tattoo. She wore a muted outfit to avoid clashing with the colorful background.

Tip #4: Capture different expressions. There’s nothing wrong with getting several different expressions from your senior. Besides a smile, photograph serious, quirky and fashionable expressions, too. High school seniors are simply teenagers learning how to become adults. Remind yourself that while you might still see them as the happy child running around your feet, they see themselves as "older." Photograph them that way.


Tip #5: If you have just one lens to use, make it a long lens. A long lens is the most flattering lens you can use for portraiture. You can also selectively focus on your subject to blur your background.

click to enlarge This senior was photographed at Ute Valley Park on a hot day in August. Here we photographed him with the sun behind his back to create a pleasing portrait. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • This senior was photographed at Ute Valley Park on a hot day in August. Here we photographed him with the sun behind his back to create a pleasing portrait.

Extra: If your senior has acne, be patient and wait for a day that works for them. If you have to photograph them with acne, the softer the light the better. You can overexpose the picture and create lighter skin tones which will eliminate much of the acne. Of course, if you're proficient at Photoshop and retouching, that works, too.

Colorado Springs wedding photographer Sean Cayton loves remarkable photographs and the stories behind them. You can see his wedding work at caytonphotography.com, his personal work at seancayton.com and his editorial work in the Colorado Springs Independent. Submit your photo and the story behind the image - no more than two a week, please - to sean@caytonphotography.com for consideration in upcoming blogs.

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