how to take great senior pictures

[senior pictures, tips & tricks]

If you are not sure how to dress for your senior portraits, then believe me, you are NOT alone. Most people don't know what to wear, and a lot of seniors haven't even stepped in front of a camera that isn't their phone more than a few times in their life! Colorado offers a wide array of fashion sense - from hipsters to geeks we have a little bit of everything. 

step 1: choose your style

Fort Collins Senior Photographer - Geek Fashion Girl

Choosing a style isn't actually as easy as it sounds. By style I'm not referring to just the clothes that you wear, but the over all feel that comes from your photos. This could mean subtly integrating these aspects of your personality into your photoshoot, or it could mean making them the central focus. I love all different styles that really bring out personalities in my clients, where you can clearly see their personality in their portraits. Something that helps me as a photographer is when my clients have put a little bit of thought into the style that they wish to bring with them to their photoshoot. Not sure what style you want to use for your shoot? Take a look at these examples. You could even combine them!

The style or styles that you choose are going to set the theme for the entire rest of your photoshoot, so choose wisely!


So there are about a gazillion other styles that you could choose from, and when you start combining them together, just think - you are left with probably thousands of different options for your photoshoot. This is what makes life fun for photographers! We get to use your clever ideas, and use them to create photoshoots for our clients that kick ass, and help them feel confident and cool - and like - excited to show off who they are in their yearbook!

step 2. choosing colors that work for YOU

Senior Pictures in the Rain - Fort Collins Photographers

This is one of my favorite parts about helping my clients get ready. I don't even just mean colors, I mean shapes and patterns and what to include in your outfit. The colors that are used should first and foremost be based off of your skin, eye and hair color. Skin can generally be treated as a neutral but for gorgeous dark skin tones, it can be accentuated with brighter colors like yellow, bright green and orange.I'm going to get my hands a bit dirty here, and give color combinations to go along with hair/eye colors. This is the same advice I share with all of my clients once we have an overall style determined, though I generally consult with them quite a bit before we settle on outfits.

My first word of advice when it comes to selecting an outfit: do NOT prioritize your favorite color for your senior portraits. This is the easiest way to choose what to wear, sure. If your favorite color is of the utmost important, then the best thing to do is find other colors that compliment that color. A good photographer can definitely help you with all of this too. When I help people choose colors to wear, I don't base it solely off of their favorite color. I mean - I do take it into account, but I don't just tell people to wear that, because while it may make their room look cool, it may not really bring out their best features.

Let's say you have blonde hair, blue eyes and your favorite color is olive geen. That's great and all, but wait...! We can make your favorite color REALLY stand out by putting a bit of color theory to use.

I've got all kinds of tricks up my sleeve, and part of what makes some photography better than others is the fact that some photographers are actually extremely familiar with the workings of color theory. Color theory, for me, was actually an entire semester's worth of knowledge that I picked up in college. Some basics to consider first are your hair color and eye color, because these create a natural combination which will be a part of every single picture that you are in.

So let's go back to Ms. Blonde Hair With Blue Eyes. Blue and yellow are both primary colors - if we take a time capsule back to elementary school, then we know that our third primary color is red. If that's not enough for color schemes. Skin tone may also be taken into account, for example, if your skin is darker then using bold and bright colors may suit you best, otherwise you can treat hair color as a neutral in your pictures.

Fort Collins, Colorado Professional Headshots Photographer | Tara Sehon's Session


dark blue + light blue + light green
light green + dark green +  blue
red + blue + yellow
dark blue + light blue (multiple shades of blue only)
baby pink + lavendar + fuscia
black + hot pink


yellow + light green + bright purple
yellow + dark green + light green
orange + yellow + green
light green + dark green (multiple shades of green)


yellow + bright blue + orange
yellow + light green + brown
yellow + orange + light green
red + teal


pinkish red + blue + brown
red + orange + dark blue
red + teal
blue + dark purple + light purple
orange + red + yellow


black + white + brown
brown + pink + gray + black
brown + blue + gray + black
brown + yellow + green
black + white + red
black + gray + red
brown + white + red
black + white + orange
black + hot pink
red + teal


red + green
yellow + red + green
yellow + red + orange
green + yellow
red + yellow
dark green + light green (multiple shades of green)
dark red + red/orange + orange
red + red + red (similar shades)


black + white + red
black + white
orange + red + yellow
red + green
dark red + red/orange + orange
red + red + red


red + blue + yellow
teal + red
dark blue + light blue + red accents
black + white + red
dark purple + light green
red + purple + blue
red + purple + blue + green

patterns to consider

Patterns can be tricky to bring into pictures, because some patterns to out of style faster than others. Some are timeless, and are beloved for decades. The pattern that you choose should really have some consideration of the location that you choose for your senior pictures. If you've opted for something urban, then of course you will want to wear urban attire. If you are going for something natural, then something a bit more outdoorsy may be best. That's certainly not to say that you can't wear outdoorsy things in urban areas and vice versa, but making everything all fit together nicely is what we are going for here.


polka dots
floral (depending on style)
dark denim


animal print (depending on style)
light denim
appropriated native/tribal styles
whatever everyone else is wearing

ready to take some dope senior pictures [fort collins, denver, boulder; co]

step 3. excessively accessorize!

Sunflower Fields | Fort Collins - Senior Pictures - Photographer

There are really two ways to go about this. Once you've determined which color scheme you want to go with, you can start accenting your outfit with accessories. There are a number of ways to accessorize. This could mean bringing your skateboard, it could mean finding a nice overcoat, or sweater to put on over your outfit. 

This really goes along with which patterns and outfit you choose. So let's say you have brown hair and brown eyes. You have opted to wear black, white and red. There are two ways to go about this:

1. wear just black and white (say black and white stripes) and then use red to accent the outfit with a bright necklace, scarf, lipstick, bow tie or jacket or...
2. wear black, white and red clothing and add accessories that are black, white red, or all of the above.

Not sure what to accessorize with? Here are a few ideas to get you started:


step 4. consider your location(s)

Senior Portrait Session | Fort Collins, CO Photographer

The hard part is done! So now all that you have left is to figure out where you want your senior pictures taken. As an experienced photographer, I can tell you right now that it is necessary to choose more than one location in most cases. Let's say you plan on a couple of outfit changes throughout your session. You've decided that you are a geek/gamer, but mom has asked that you also take some nice pictures that she can hang up in the foyer.

You've purchased a new shirt with your favorite vintage video game console, and you've also selected a nice outfit that mom will approve of, you've cleaned up your eye glasses, slicked your hair back, and you and your photographer have selected some accessories to add to your shoot together For your gamer side, we've selected a video game controller. Clearly you wouldn't be out in the woods playing a video game, so we'd need to be a bit more creative. Most people play games on couches - of course!

How about checking out the public space at The Elizabeth Hotel and creating a mock set for your gamer pictures? This doubles well, as it has a classic spiral staircase, and plenty of other features that can be used for the pictures mom wants. Then again, Fort Collins is full of places to get your pictures taken!

And voila! Choosing a location was just that simple. ;-)

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In