Joanne Vandal Photography | How to Prep for your Session


HOW TO PREP FOR YOUR SENIOR SHOOT

I absolutely LOVE senior photography! Whether it be college, a gap year, or something else, everyone is transitioning into their next adventure in life. Being able to capture such an important moment is such an honor and so exciting! Deciding how to prepare for your senior shoot can be confusing, so I’m going to give tips & tricks regarding what to wear, hair and makeup and more.

 

CHOOSING OUTFITS

One of the questions I get asked the most, is “what should I wear to my senior shoot?”  This is an awesome question because what you wear is SUCH an important part of your session. If you accidentally wear something that is unflattering on camera or something you don’t feel good in, it could affect how much you like your pictures.  Here are some tips I have learned throughout the years to help guide you.


1. BE COMFORTABLE

My number one recommendation is to wear something you KNOW you look good in. This might seem obvious, but for me at least, there have been so many times where I have envisioned something looking a certain way, only to realize it just doesn’t work for me! If you aren’t 100% confidant or think that you’ll be constantly adjusting your outfit and questioning whether you look good, leave the item at home! Being uncomfortable will SHOW in your pictures and make you uneasy throughout the shoot, trust me.
      

 

2. EXPRESS YOURSELF

Seniors who express themselves are my favorite to photograph!! Their shoots have the “wow” factor and set them apart. Let your outfits express who you are, what you like, and your personality. If you love vintage clothes, incorporate something vintage! If you like boho, wear boho, if you love a team, throw a team jersey in there! If you are interested in high fashion, wear something high fashion during your shoot! Don’t be afraid to be BOLD and wear something you wouldn’t normally wear in day-to-day life or at school. Sometimes outfits that might look bold in normal life photograph really well. Your senior shoot is all about capturing who and where you are in life at this moment – so wear something that goes along with that. This will lead to the best and most personal photos. Sometimes seniors will be a little hesitant to break the norm and bring something a little out of the ordinary, but from my experience, these pictures become a few of their favorites and are the most fun to shoot in.

I obsessed over Tory's silver jacket, it was PERFECT for her graffiti shoot! Then, when we moved into the studio, she switched her look to a soft pastel with tule, tule and more tule (there can never be enough tule)!

Jess ROCKED the fur for her snow shoot, it was absolute perfection!

Calleigh and Hunter stepped out of the norm and their portraits really popped! 


Tory and Amber also dance, they brought a few dance outfits to make their senior shoots more special and personal!

I LOVE when seniors mix some school spirit into their shoots! Caeli was planning to attend (and is now attending!!) the University of Maryland, so she brought a shirt associated with her future school coupled with her graduation cap.

Sam did the same for Assumption!

 

 

Bright colors photograph well, so wear items that POP and complement your hair and skin tone. Colors like red, royal blue, yellow, emerald greens, bright purples, pinks, and really anything else that pops will look good. Color combos that might seem odd or too much in person sometimes photograph really well too! Liz, Kallie, Kristin, Amelia and Lauren chose colors that really popped! 

 

 


 
3. ACCESSORIZE
Accessories are SO important. They really complete your look and can be the aspect that gives your shoot a “wow” factor. Adding things like dangle earrings, long necklaces, statement necklaces, bracelets, rings, floppy hats, flower crowns, headbands, and scarves make ALL the difference.

 

 

 In the colder months, cute hats, scarves, and gloves look awesome!! Also, don’t be afraid to over accessorize! You can always take things off, and it’s better to have more, than not enough. Don’t forget about shoes! They really bring your whole outfit together, so think carefully about what you’re wearing on your feet. Love these converse kicks below! 

 

Adding layers looks amazing in portraits! Wearing cardigans, sweaters, vests, jackets, overlaid shirts, and more makes your photos so much more fun and interesting. Additionally it gives you more posing options and some place to put your HANDS (the never-ending problem)! For example, if you wear a sweater or jacket over a shirt, you can put you hands on the zipper part of your jacket, or in the pockets, which are two whole new poses that you wouldn’t have otherwise! Adding layers also means that you can REMOVE layers to create even more looks.

 

 6. ADD VARIETY
Make sure you bring a VARIETY of looks! As a guide, I tell all my seniors to choose from these categories:


1.Cocktail dress or semi-dressy outfit


2. Comfy Look

3. Sports Uniform or outfit that represents your hobby


4. Preppy/Chic look


5.Edgy or urban look


6. An outfit representing your future college

I recommend choosing anywhere from 2-4 of these categories and find outfits accordingly. This creates a beautiful array of looks that are completely different! This is just what I provide as a guide, but you can wear anything you want!

 
7. PLAN AHEAD
Planning your outfits ahead alleviates stress and gives you the reassurance that you are going to look your BEST. Also, if you end up needing to make last-minute changes, you can! Go shopping and get your outfits together a week or two ahead of time so you don’t feel rushed as your session draws closer. I’ve had a few seniors wait until the day of or night before, and they end up going into their shoot stressed, tired, and sometimes insecure that they don’t look their best…which is not what you want!! If you can avoid this, then why not?!   

Part of planning ahead is making sure your clothes are IRONED!  Wrinkled clothes will look awful in photos, and no, I cannot Photoshop that out. Bring your wardrobe changes on a hanger rather than tossed in your car in a pile.  I cant stress this enough. 


HAIR AND MAKEUP

1. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
Getting your hair and makeup done by a professional makes a HUGE difference! If you are investing in photography, which can be expensive, why not take advantage of this infrequent experience and try to get the BEST photos you can? A lot of people don’t invest in professional photos THAT often, so make the most of your shoot. I know many people who decide to get their hair and makeup done by professionals for prom, which is a great idea, but personally, I’m going to use and look at my senior photos more than my prom photos, so it makes sense to go the extra mile for your senior shoot. They will contour your face so that it will look good in any light, conceal spots you don’t like, use colors that complement your skin to make you look flawless, and more! If you want to hire someone to do your hair and makeup, just let me know as I have tons of talented and trustworthy people I can refer you to! Here are a few reasons why I suggest hiring a HMU (hair and makeup) artist:

 

A) They know what they’re doing
Just like when you hire a professional photographer, you trust him/her to make you look your absolute best! It’s the same with HMU artists – they are TRAINED to know what looks good on camera. Your makeup might look amazing in person, but it will look completely different in photos! Professionals will enhance your best features, and will make you love your photos much more! Even if you don’t wear makeup, you can still get very natural looking makeovers!!

B) Less stress
Prepping for your senior shoot can be stressful enough as you try to choose the best outfits and shake off the nerves of being in front of the camera soon. Getting your hair and makeup professionally done gives you less to worry about! Additionally, professional cameras are made to capture every detail on your face, which is all the more reason to go with a HMU artist.  You will look great, feel confident and that will show!

** If hair and makeup isn’t in the budget, that’s totally ok too! If this is the case, I recommend putting on makeup a little heavier than normal, including blush and lipstick/gloss that is at least slightly darker than your lip color. Lip color makes a HUGE difference in your photos. You can still look natural while adding lip color if you’re worried about that! I also highly recommend false eyelashes. These small details make a BIG difference.
  

2. DON’T FORGET THE NAILS!
Painting your nails can often be forgotten in the bustle of getting ready for your seniors, but make sure you don’t neglect them! During the shoot, there will be a lot of poses with your hands in the frame, so make sure they look how you want! I recommend avoiding any chipped polish or crazy patterns. Keep them light and natural! French manicures, soft colors, or even colorless nails photograph the best!
 
3. ON SITE TOUCH UPS
Be sure to bring a hairbrush, extra makeup, and a small mirror to the shoot for touch ups!  Hairspray, and small spritz water bottle are also awesome to control the frizzes that New England is known for.  We’ll be moving around a lot, and you want to have touch ups on hand just in case! It’s better to be prepared than not at all!

EXTRAS

1. PROPS
I LOVE when my seniors bring props. They make your session SO much more fun, personal, and meaningful to you! If there is something you love, whether it be dance, a sport, certain foods, playing an instrument or something else, we can use props to incorporate it! If you love Starbucks, bring a Starbucks cup! If you love dancing, bring a dance outfit! If you love playing the trumpet, bring your trumpet.  If you love reading, bring some of your favorite books! If you love singing, bring a microphone stand and/or sheet music! The possibilities are endless. If you want to incorporate something, but don’t know how, I have TONS of ideas, so just let me know, and we’ll find a tasteful way to add it in! 

 


 

2. LOCATIONS
In the questionnaire I send to all of my seniors, I ask what kind of setting they want to take their photos in, and give them these categories as a guide: urban, rural, farm, nature or the beach. Locations are also another awesome way to make your senior shoot more personal and meaningful. I have a bunch of ideas of course, but always get so excited when seniors come up with their own!! For example, is there a favorite restaurant or coffee shop you go to often? If so, we can try to go there. Do you like performing on stage? We can try to find some abandoned stage to go to! I’m up for anything. The more creative the better!!!

 

3. IMPORTANT PEOPLE
I allow my seniors to bring 1 other person to their shoot for the first or last 30 minutes! This can be a family member, boyfriend/girlfriend, best friend, etc!  Sara brought her sister to her session and I love this photo, unplanned and completely natural.

Julie took a few pictures with her boyfriend.


 


4. Pets
A lot of seniors ask me if they can bring their pets to their shoot…and the answer is YES! Whether it is your pup, cat, etc, we can totally incorporate him/her into your session! I don’t recommend shooting the entire session with them, but spending a few minutes with them is a great idea!  Jess brought Daisy and it was so much fun!


Ok, so the peacock isn't Micki's pet, but it walked right into the shoot which is pretty cool, right?!