What makes a good senior portrait?

Dark eyes, bad crop, distracting background

1) Eyes! It has been said that eyes are the window to our soul. Are your eyes visible or dark in shadows?

2) Fill lighting. Backlit photos look cool at first but if they flatten the contrast in your face and leave you obscured, they are not good as portraits. Fill lighting lights up the foreground even though it might look strange seeing a flash or reflector on a bright day.

3) Good cropping. Acceptable crops are not at your joints. Midway down a thigh is better than at the knee. Otherwise, your portrait gives you the amputee look.

Hide n seek?

4) Setting. I beg you … don’t put your face up against a tree . Trees are a hard line in a photo that just segment it. You can do better than a tree.

Notice the blurred background?

5) Depth of field. Often times, pros take the clutter out of a busy background by using a wide aperture and neutral density filter. The blurred background makes the subject stand out more.

6) Skilled, experienced post-processing. Professional photographers know their craft. They know how to edit seamlessly, remove blemishes smoothly, whiten teeth and eyes, fix skin and make colors pop. Uncle Bob can take a decent picture but will he be able to turn it into a portrait worthy of the wall? (Linscott Photo uses Adobe Photoshop CS5)

backlit, titled and pole growth!

7) Background junk. This photo is backlit (strike 1), crooked horizon (strike 2) and the subject is positioned with a pole growing out of her head! (strike 3)

Seemed like a good idea at the time?

8) Timeless, no regrets. A good senior picture is not one you are going to be embarassed by in 10-15 years. (Sure, we all look back and laugh at hairstyles and fashion but be careful not to go over the edge.)

9) Professional photographers who work with hundreds of subjects in a variety of settings make the best senior photos. Experience, training and equipment matters. Sure, Uncle Bob has some nice camera equipment but he has a car too, right.?Does having a car make him a NASCAR driver? Of course not. No offense to Uncle Bob, but you’re not going to trust him to drive you around a track at 215 MPH. You have one shot at your senior portraits. Shouldn’t you do all you can to get the stunning results that will thrill you?

I’m a member of Professional Photographers of America and have had hundreds of hours of class time and hands-on learning to develop my craft.

Hey Nicole, that sure is a nice tree.

If your mom’s friend took your photos for free, how do they stack up to the above test? It’s not to late to schedule a shoot with a professional who makes his/her living doing nothing else but photography.

Or, just stick with that tree shot. Heck, it is a very nice tree.


* Linscott Photo took none of the images on this page. No trees were harmed in the writing of this post.

About Scott Linscott

Living life to the fullest, walking in the dust of my Rabbi, creating art through photography and written word, speaking words of hope and encouragement at conferences, workshops, church and civic gatherings.
This entry was posted in Aburn, Alfred, Augusta, Bridgton, Buxton, Cornish, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gardner, Gorham, Gray, Hollis, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Lewiston, Lyman, Maine, Portland Maine, portrait photography, Professional photographer, Saco, Sanford, Scarborough, Senior photos, Senior portraits, Turner, Wells, York and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to What makes a good senior portrait?

  1. 831photography says:

    Well written and great advice, especially for a beginning photographer like myself. Thanks for posting and sharing these things that I can apply to my photography!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s