What to Wear & How to Prepare for your Senior Portrait Session

Just signed up for your Portrait Place senior creative session? Here are some tips on what to wear and how to prepare.

Classic Yearbook Portrait Clothing Tips for the Guys

A dress suit or a navy/black blazer with charcoal slacks and a tie has been the standard for years and we still recommend it. Wearing the complete outfit with dress slacks and shoes allows us to capture full length portraits of you as well as your head and shoulders yearbook portrait. A white shirt under your suit or sport coat is a classic, timeless look. Make sure you know how to tie your tie or bring the tie tied already so that you can slip it over your head and under your shirt collar when getting ready to take your classic portraits. Another option is to come to the sitting with your coat and tie on and I can capture those formal images first, after which you can change to your casual clothes.

If you decide not to wear a coat and tie, another option is a dress shirt and sweater. The sweater should be a dark, solid color or a sweater with a very fine pattern to it. A V-neck sweater with a tie and dress shirt is also a good look for a semi-casual classic portrait for your yearbook. If you are going to only wear a dress shirt and a tie, make sure your shirt is a pastel color (like a blue oxford) and not white. White shirts look best under a jacket.

Classic Yearbook Portrait Clothing Tips for the Girls

The golden rule — dark, solid colors slim — bold colors or pattern stand out. Dark colored tops work best for your classic yearbook portrait. Sleeves that are 3/4 length will keep your arms from looking too long. Wear a neckline that is flattering. Round faces and square jaw lines look best in a V-neck as opposed to a round crew neck top. Thin faces and more pointed chins look best in a round neckline. Turtlenecks look best only on those with a relatively long neck. Wear solid colors with no large, distracting patterns as they compliment rather than compete with our main subject, your face. Try to pick colors that don’t approximate your skin tone. Short sleeve tops and spaghetti straps make your arms look much larger than they really are which draws attention from your face. We’d love to take some full length, classic portraits of you, so bring along a pair of dress shoes that complement the rest of your outfit.

Wear simple jewelry. Pearls are great for that classic look. Large jewelry can detract from your portrait. Certain skin tones look better with one over the other. If you’re not wearing pearls, chain type necklaces of a smaller size work best.

Casual Portrait Clothing Tips for the Guys

The key is to be you in your casual portraits. We want to capture your “crazy” side. Anything goes with us as long as it’s OK with Mom. Wear what you are most comfortable in. If you’re in doubt bring it and we can decide what works best for you and your skin tones. Bring the right shoes for the outfits … we’re going to be taking full length photos and want you to look your absolute best.  We want your portraits to be timeless. For that reason, try to avoid large, bold brand names on your clothing. Think about it — there are a few big brand names from ten years that you’d be caught dead in today. We want your portraits to be about you, not about a clothing brand. Jeans, khakis, shorts, casual or sportswear, your letter jacket, your sports uniform and equipment are all great for casual portraits. If your girlfriend has your class ring, borrow it back for your photo shoot.

Casual Portrait Clothing Tips for the Girls

Just like the guys, we want to capture your “crazy” side. We don’t tell you what you and can’t wear for your casual portraits. We’ll photograph you in anything from a formal gown to a swimsuit. A little sexy is OK — just don’t make all of your outfits that way. The golden rule — anything that’s OK with Mom is OK with us! Depending on how much of a “quick change artist” you are, we can typically fit four of five clothing changes into your in portrait session, so plan accordingly. Bring a variety of outfits in a variety of colors. Bring something dressy, something casual and something off the wall and we’ll capture them all! Remember that sleeveless and spaghetti strap tops may tend to make your arms look bigger than they are. Dark colors slim — bold colors stand out. Wear what you are most comfortable in. If you’re in doubt bring it and I’ll help you decide what works best for you and your skin tones. Bring some black clothing if you have it — they make for great black and white photos. The rule about solid colors versus patterns is out now — wear the outfits you love and we’ll create great portraits of you in them. Use jackets, scarves and hats to enhance your outfits. Select outfits that are flattering to your figure. Pick foundation garments that match your skin tone. Remember that thin fabrics show everything. Bring a parent or a friend along. That way, you have someone to give you a another opinion and make sure that nothing is showing that shouldn’t be showing. We want you to look your best!

Sports outfits, swim suits, prom dresses, short, jeans — if you like being in them, bring them along! Bring shoes that go with each outfit. For some outfits, bare feet look best. Don’t forget your earrings and jewelry for each outfit.

 Preparation Tips for the Guys

Make sure you are clean shaven. It is very hard to remove razor stubble from your portraits. If you normally wear a little stubble and want it in your casual portraits, then bring a razor and we’ll photograph your casual shots first, then you can do a quick shave for your classic yearbook portrait and keep Mom happy. If you wear a mustache or goatee, make sure you have trimmed it so that it looks great. Avoid getting a haircut two weeks before your session. We don’t want to see a “tan line” around the perimeter of your hair cut. Make sure you trim your finger and toe nails. They DO show in your pictures!

Preparation Tips for the Girls

Avoid a new hair style or cutting your hair right before your portrait session. Let your hair be natural. Quick, easy hair style changes are fine during your portrait shoot as long as they are five minutes or less. Remember, major changes take away from our camera time. Also, while we are on location, you may not have access to electricity for curlers or other tools. Remember, your hair style is your responsibility. Don’t cut or change your hair style until after you have previewed your portrait proofs. That way, if we have to retake some of your portraits for one reason or another, your hair will be the way you intended it to be in the first place. Make sure you treat yourself to a manicure and a pedicure before your portrait session. It is very hard to retouch chipped finger or toe nails in your final images. Makeup should be only slightly heavier than normal. Think about how you’d wear your makeup in the evening and that usually works fine. Mascara is great for defining your eyes. It should be clean and contain no clumps. If your mascara is old and clumpy, replace it before your portrait session. Make sure to blend your face make up into your neck so that when you look in the mirror your neck is not too white. Glitter make-up may look cool in real life, but it looks terrible in portraits, as it fills your face with white specks that can’t be retouched. Check to see if you have tan lines that will show with the different outfits you are going to wear.

Preparation Tips for Guys and Girls The Night Before.

Get a good night’s rest the day before your portrait session. It can do wonders for your skin tone and your state of mind.

Skin Blemishes

Skin blemishes are a fact of life and can’t be avoided. Concealer and powder work wonders for both guys and girls. Do the best you can to conceal them — then don’t worry about them. Any skin blemishes remaining will be retouched out of the photos. If there are certain issues or spots, make me aware ahead of time, so they can be retouched during editing.


Tan, yes. Burn — NO! Sunburn and peeling do not photograph well. If you are having a spring portrait session, you might consider tanning, but don’t over do it. Redness from the sun will make you look red in your portraits. Tan lines are very unappealing and are difficult to correct. If you do have tan lines, wear clothing that will hide them. Rule of thumb is: If you’ve never done it before, now is not the time to start!


In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I really want to capture the real you in your portraits. Bring in things that reflect your personality, talents and hobbies. Choir and dance costumes, instruments, sports uniforms and any sports gear that is part of your life belongs with you in your casual portraits. Footballs, volleyballs, hockey sticks, skateboards, you name it — they’re all welcome and make for great portraits! If you make me aware ahead of time, I can plan to work everything into the location in a special way.


The absolute best way to take care of the problem of glass glare is to have your optometrist take out the lenses in your glasses for the day of your shoot so that we can shoot you with your frames only. Some optometrists will loan you a pair of empty frames for your photos. If you don’t have that option, try to bring in glasses that don’t have “transition” lenses in them, as they still throw off a tint in photos even in great lighting. Posing will be your best friend when reducing glare in the pictures.


Bring lip balm or gloss to keep your lips moist.

Positive Attitude

The most important tip I can give you is to bring a positive attitude and energy to your creative session. If you’re having a down day, call ahead and let’s reschedule your shoot. There’s no way we can fix negative energy with Photoshop! And a note to mom and dad, while it can be a tendency to try to control the shoot, please do your best to work with your teen and allow some creative freedom. Shouting “Smile!” at your teen, will not make them feel joyful. The more fun we have, the more that is transferred to the photos.

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