Behind the Scenes of a Senior Portrait Photo Shoot

j’adore the studio’s décor

Senior portraits are not ordinary photographs. They commemorate an important part of a young person’s life: the pinnacle of their high school career as they embark on a promising new phase in life. In that regard, taking senior portraits is a rite of passage in itself!

That said, I did not take a senior portrait for the yearbook.

At my high school, senior portraits were taken in a single day during the summer in the school cafeteria. If you couldn’t make it, you were out of luck as they didn’t have make-up picture days.

I thought, Besides, I couldn’t possibly take time off from my minimum wage part time summer job of warming hamburger buns, scrubbing potatoes, and dispensing Frosty desserts just to take a picture for the yearbook! Pfft.

I know, sour grapes! But I do take some comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone. Adding insult to injury, my high school yearbook had a page listing the names of “Camera Shy Seniors.” We’d outnumbered the seniors who’d had portraits taken! So there!

But I don’t feel bad about missing out. Well, not anymore, thanks to a vicarious occasion I call: My Daughter’s Senior Portrait Photo Shoot!

I’d like to share what I learned:

📸You need to travel to the photography studio

Since my daughter’s high school works with a studio, senior portraits are not taken at the school cafeteria. For this photo shoot, we drove over 20 miles/ 32 km to the studio.

📸You need to arrive at the studio with hair and makeup done

📸You pay a sitting fee

The fee you pay varies depending on the type of photo you want: yearbook photo only; yearbook photo and one outfit; yearbook photo and two outfits; and so on.

📸You wear fake clothes for the standard yearbook picture

My daughter got a velvet drape Velcro’d to her over her clothes.

little sister snapped this pic

📸If you’ve selected an upgraded package, they will take your portrait in graduation gear

You are fitted with a gown along with a cap and tassel with graduation year. Then they’ll have you hold a leatherette diploma folder that’s gold-leaf embossed with your high school’s name in a fancy font, like Old English

📸If you’ve selected a further upgraded package, you go to another room with more backdrops

You can pose in regular clothes to show your personality. I saw some students wearing dance attire or athletic uniforms. One student posed with their pet! My daughter posed with her violin that she’s been playing since she was in middle school.

📸The entire photo shoot takes about 30 minutes (unless you take the yearbook photo only, in which case, you’re done in 5 minutes)!

After all the pictures were taken, I thought I’d be directed to another room to pore over sets of digital proofs. I thought I’d be unabashedly gushing over them. I thought I’d be suckered into buying prints of all of them. (And I would because proud mama.)

But I thought wrong. After all the pictures were taken, the studio said they would send an email with a link to view proofs and purchase prints. How efficient!

In terms of poses, props, and backdrops, overall, I’d say this senior portrait photo shoot was pretty similar to baby photo shoots they do at shopping mall studios! The only difference is who’s in tears! I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Wishing the Class of 2020 all the best! 🎓

Did you take high school senior portraits? Share your experience (and senior portrait, if you’d like) in the comments below!


      1. Funny story. I wanted to study music when I was a senior too. I played piano, trumpet, and flute. My mother forbade it. She said I had to study something practical. So I did Computer Science instead.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Mom knows best – there’s a big push now for girls to go into STEM and learn how to code! I never knew that you played all those instruments – you’re so talented. Do you still play?

          Liked by 1 person

      2. No, not anymore. I did in college but stopped after I graduated. I guess mom was right. I still love music but I wasn’t passionate enough about it to continue playing once life got in the way.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Wonderful insight. I graduated in 1986 and I hated my senior pictures. It was before I got braces and I had an overbite. I don’t even have one senior photo from that time. I also got rid of my senior yearbook years ago, but I do regret that. Ryan graduated in 2018 and his photos were great. They did them at his school, but I wasn’t there. We purchased a bunch and he has all of his yearbooks which I’m glad he has kept. I think I’ll store them in the attic so he doesn’t get rid of them and experience the same regret I did. Thanks for sharing and congratulations to your daughter. This is a very exciting time.

    Liked by 1 person

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