Tips for Planning a Styled Senior Shoot
As a busy senior photographer, I sometimes feel the struggle to perform well as both an artist AND as a business owner. And after my “shooting” season subsides and I find myself with more time on my hands… well, that’s the perfect opportunity to do something fun and inspiring for yourself: a styled shoot! I find that planning a styled shoot challenges me to grow as an artist and is a great chance to shoot purely for myself. It can be very freeing as an artist! I recommend taking the time to do a personal styled shoot for yourself as many times as you can throughout the year! So let me give you some tips to get started on planning your next styled senior shoot!
1. Pick a theme
Having a theme or concept for your shoot is essential. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, but it is important to have a general idea to encapsulate within your shoot. If you’re a Pinterest addict like me, put your obsession to use and start a board for your shoot! You can pin things like colors, poses, props, etc., that inspire you. Once you’re pinned quite a few things to your board, take a step back and look at it as a whole and you’ll probably figure out, if you haven’t already, what you want your theme to be. My last senior shoot (the images of which are featured in this post) had a theme as vague as “Winter Glam”!
2. Find a model
Once you’ve determined your shoot’s concept, figure out how many models you need. I usually like to work with one or two models so I can really focus on detail shots and
close-ups; but that’s just my personal style. You may find that your concept would work better with a group of models. After you have a number in mind, send out a Model Call on social media outlets your business is active on, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. As a senior portrait photographer, I have many awesome senior clients and social media followers that typically respond quickly when I send out one of these calls. You can even use the opportunity to market with applicants: for example, to the applicants whom you do not choose for the shoot you could offer a discounted session fee if they should choose to work with you in the future. Make sure that you respond to everyone regardless of whether or not they were chosen: you don’t want to alienate potential clients!
Make sure your senior is well-dressed and that her outfits and accessories go hand-in-hand with your shoot’s concept. This is where the “styled” part of the shoot most comes into play. For my last styled shoot, I worked with my senior to find out what outfits she already had in her closet that most closely matched the shoot’s theme; and then I bought accessories that I thought were gorgeous and would make her outfits “pop”. You could even collaborate with local boutiques or stylists as well!
As just previously mentioned, finding local vendors to work with can make a big difference in your shoot. You could find stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, etc. who
can use their expertise to bring your shoot to a whole new level. For my last styled shoot, I worked with my MUA, Rachel, to come up with a dramatic and glam look that fit
with my “Winter Glam” theme. Without the makeup pulling the fashion and style together, the shoot would have been lacking. It made a huge difference!
Once you have all of the other elements in place–concept, model, collaborators, etc.– choose a location that best represents the vision you want for your shoot. If you find
yourself shooting at the same locations all the time for your paid shoots, you may want to find something different and unusual just to challenge yourself as a photographer; or you could go back to your usual locations and find ways to rediscover them from different angles or spots! After I have these five steps down, it’s time for the shoot! Since I’m shooting just for “me”, I may try out different shooting techniques that are more adventurous or editorial than I would typically use; or I may experiment by having my model try different poses. In post-processing, I’ll usually play around with some artistic editing that challenges my Photoshop skills. Use shooting for yourself as an opportunity to learn new skills and techniques. You’ll find that this will really help you grow as an artist! I hope these tips encourage you to start shooting styled sessions for yourself more often! I often find that these shoots are among my most favorite sessions that I have done, and are great for building your portfolio’s diversity. So go out there, find a concept that inspires you, and start planning a styled senior shoot!