10 ideas for creative senior portraits

[fort collins things, senior pictures, tips & tricks]


From nature to urban scenes, Fort Collins has a little bit to offer everyone for their senior pictures. As a local photographer, I have used old town/downtown, natural areas and everything else you can think of in between. Senior pictures do not have to be dreadful or intimidating. Instead they should be fun, and should give you the opportunity to do something you enjoy. 

Here are 10 ideas, places and ways to make the most of your senior pictures in Fort Collins.


10. take center stage... or don't.

Senior Portrait Session | Fort Collins, CO Photographer

You're a phenomenal writer (or I suppose typist for you iGenerationals), and your grammar is on point. Or maybe your sketchbook is killing it or your piano skills are fire. If you're lucky then you are making it with your own personal YouTube channel with these talents. Brownie points if you're a photographer like I am. ;-)

In any case, you can find locations all over the city that can give others an idea of where your talent rests. Take control of your photoshoot, and find a photographer who is willing to collaborate with you, rather than bogart your session with nothing but expanding their portfolio or making some money as their primary motivation for taking you on as a client. Don't take boring ass pictures against some boring ass bushes on a trail - instead do something YOU enjoy.


Bring your sketchbook and do something urban with one of the many murals to be found downtown and on North College. Consider even using a place like Carnegie Center for Creativity where they have art rooms that they may be willing to let you use for a few images (pending they aren't reserved, of course.)


Check with your school for a day where you can just use your auditorium for your session. Bring a chair and your favorite instrument. If you're a pianist, there are luckily places all over the city - if you don't have a piano at home, of course. Maybe even check out The Lincoln Center for to add a little bit more to your photos.


The Lyric Cinema Cafe is any performing artists' paradise! It's a quixotic little place with murals and a classic style theatre inside. There's also the Midtown Arts Center or Bas Bleu! Don't worry, I won't make you get too cheeseball, unless you want to of course. I will help you look as natural as possible. Although, if you are in the performing arts then I am sure you are used to putting on a bit of a show!


Bring a set of nice headphones and a sound mixer. JK! There are actually sets that Ridgeview Classical and other schools will let you use. Even Guitar Center makes a great location for this with all of their sound and DJ equipment.

9. coffee, spice and everything nice

Hobbies & Interests - Fort Collins Senior Pictures

One of my most favorite places to visit is The Alley Cat Cafe's for their famous Chai Tea, art gallery (changes monthly), the alley it is located in and of course: the diversity of people that this place has to offer.

Their owner says showing up around 11:00 on weekdays is usually the best time to arrive or later at night during weekdays so long as it's not finals week for CSU students. So if you can ditch...I mean...if you have a period off around one of those times, or can get your parents to stretch your curfew a little bit then that's the best way to ensure you won't have a bunch of strangers photoboming your shoot.

If that's not quite your style, try Happy Lucky Tea House's unbeatable & massive wall of tea and their community made paper crane mobile. Even better, is that these two downtown Fort Collins locations are near murals and directly connected to alley ways in and Fort Collins which have murals, pianos and other decorations that may be useful to you!

8. urban style

If you are looking for urban style images, your pictures don't just have to be downtown, granted there are some murals that are on point. There are also murals in South Fort Collins and near the mall. If you venture up North you will run into Create Places which hasn't been overused like so many of the murals in Old Town. The pictures above aren't exactly a teenager, but it at least will give you a general idea of what you can find at this little known place!

Why take pictures in a studio when the whole world can be used as your studio? While a studio may seem like a higher quality option, it also does very little to show off how perfectly you that YOU Are. Senior pictures should be fun, and in Fort Collins there is no shortage of places to take your pictures, especially when you and I collaborate and use all of your favorite places! Even better is that I am offering senior portrait discounts, now through October 5th!

7. rebel! err... represent. yeah... that's what I meant.

Fort Collins Senior Photos - Peace Sign Girl

Okay, so the iGeneration is said to be a little bit on the rebellious side. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that - rebelling is what creates positive change - like women's suffrage or the march at Selma. Personally I'm a millenial, and we are often told that we are entitled and lazy by our gen-x predecessors. Believe me, I know the struggle.

iGenerationals are said to have some interesting qualities where they are more accepting of others and embrace diversity (similarly to us millennial folk) and they also say you are substantially more rebellious than prior generations. Yes, you.

So wear a shirt that is symbolic of your beliefs, flash a peace sign, find a wall that represents what you believe to be true - show off a little. Or how about you take them in an old classic church, like Mountain View Community Church... or better yet, Bingham Hill Cemetery at night. The possibilities are endless when you work with me, and I certainly do love to collaborate on new ideas. Don't be shy! I don't discriminate. 

6. nature

Meyer-Straw | Fort Collins, CO Family Portraits Photographer

Okay, so maybe this one goes without saying - and TBH there are SO many cliches when it comes to nature pictures, but if that's your thing then your photographer should be willing to help it get creative by using seasonal changes in nature - like the sunflower fields out East, the flowering of the pink and white crab apple trees in the spring or the changing of the leaves in the fall.

People in sunflower fields just - being in sunflower fields with no added excitement or anything to differentiate THEIR sunflower field pictures from everyone else's.

Nature is a great, boring way to have your senior pictures taken.

So then do something with those fields or those beautiful fall leaves. Dress up fancy and accessorize, take a bubble machine or battery-operated string lights. Make it memorable.

Check out some natural areas like Watson Lake in Laporte, CO which features a lake, the Poudre River running nearby, a gorgeous trail in the center of a lush thicket; or Gateway Park which features a mellow river and rocks that can be used as your props.

5. you've got style - so prove it!

Fort Collins Senior Photographer - Geek Fashion Girl

My favorite thing as a photographer is when my clients come to me saying they've got a few really great outfits that they want to include in their photo session. Personally I suggest wearing an undershirt or tank top, and bringing lots of outfit changes. If your photographer has a limit - well then, re-think hiring them. I do not limit this when students come to me for a full session at all. I allow as many changes as necessary to get the desired results from my clients so long as it doesn't exceed the number of images they are buying. I recommend bringing several different outfits, in fact, which are bright and colorful. 

I actually consult with my clients to help them choose colors, poses and locations that actually make sense. 

*except screw paisley. >_>


4. capitalize on colorado's so-called bad weather

Senior Pictures in the Rain - Fort Collins Photographers

Colorado's weather is unpredictable AF, and it can be frustrating... if you aren't sure what to do with it. But seriously, who cares. Use the rain as an excuse to use an umbrella as a prop and take advantage of those sweet reflections that it makes. Go crazy in the snow and break out your favorite winter hat and scarf. Use that wind to sweep your hair like you're a model standing in front of a fan with wind-kissed hair. During senior portraits season you may be surprised to find yourself scheduled for a hot sunny day, the first snow of the year or even rain & stormy weather! I shoot in all weather, and I actually get excited when the weather isn't just another  overcast day (typically every portrait photographer's ideal photography situation - but can you say BORING?!) or a perfect sunset. While most photographers love this, I do too.

....But I'm even more of a sucker for clients who are willing to brave a little bit of unexpected weather.

3. ...and so-called bad lighting situations

City Lights & String Lights - Fort Collins Senior Photographers

Again, as I mentioned a second go, while most photographers want to take pictures during the "golden hour" and during overcast days, I shoot in EVERY lighting condition that exists. That means night time, midday sunlight, inside of houses and everywhere in between. I love shoots that present a challenge, and where I can add some creative light tricks of my own! If bright lights are of interest, along with the brightly lit streets of Fort Collins then let's grab a few battery operated lights from a store and photograph you with something interesting.

2. sportsing

Soccer Player Senior Portrait Session | Fort Collins, CO Photographer

I will admit that I am not a big sports enthusiast. I would fancy myself as more of an indoors enthusiast, but I do know that sports are one of the best things to include in senior portraits since a lot of students participate in this as an extracurricular. 

But really any extracurricular activity is a great idea, including:


Bring your craft with you! Let's include it and get some shots of you flying your drone and actually having some fun. Or bring your latest robotics project.


Bring your flute or your tuba, idgaf. We can take them to a theater or some other interesting place as mentioned.


One of my favorites. We can get that into your pictures. Especially coders! If you have a laptop or there is a lab that you prefer to use at school, then we can bring that into the picture, too.


I wouldn't recommend this for people simply who are fans of sports. A Bronco's or Av's jersey would be a bit... tacky, if I'm being honest. Instead consider wearing their colors to represent them. If you play sports, then bring a ball, or wear your letterman jacket.


Slightly overdone, but who cares. If you do use a car as a prop, try and find something a little bit more classic or something that won't go out of style. Ford Fiesta - please, God, no. A Ford Mustang - thumbs up.


Bring the ballet shoes, tap dance shoes, and be sure to show me your moves. I have access to a dance room, or we can find your favorite place to perform and use that as a backdrop.


Get to the podium, future prez. Or bring something symbolic of your personal beliefs, give a thumbs up/thumbs down, and be prepared to write a killer senior quote to go along with it.


Someone please - use the giant chess set outside of the Old Town Library. And if not that one, then one of the chess tables located outside of it - unless you are boasting a special chess set, then by all means bring that too!


Your yearbook probably wouldn't be happy with you in just a bathing suit, but we can find something else creative to do - like a dive in Horsetooth or Watson lake where your outfit can't be visibly seen since the water is dark. See, I know how to bend rules - so break out the goggles. ;-)


This one goes without saying - we need access to a sound room, some nice headphones and anything else your soul desires.

1. just you - and your best features

Your best features may be physical. They may also have to do with your sense of style, or your outgoing personality! I get it... it's hard to just be like, "Hey, Darah! Here are my best features, I already know exactly what they are off of the top of my head!" 

One would be so lucky if it were truly that easy. So instead of just straight up asking you, "What is your favorite thing about yourself?" I will spend some time asking questions about what you like to do in your free time, your favorite place to hang out (even if it's just at your own house!), your favorite colors, your sense of style (simple or bold), what your friends say about you, and what physical attribute of yours would be your favorite if you had to choose (for example, your smile, your hair, your eye color, etc.)

Seriously. I even have a form that I send you to fill out about it, and then you give me your ideas, I give you mine and voila! We're ready to get started. I have you send me some of your favorite outfits that you own and then I determine locations just for you!


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