25 Unique Senior Picture Ideas
Senior picture ideas are easy to find, but somehow difficult to remember once it’s time to start your senior portrait session. We’ve scoured the web looking for some of the most unique ideas, and some that are tried and true. Not every idea will work for every student, but if you come away with just one more great picture that you had before, I’m sure it will be worth the read.
We’ve divided it up into categories for you so it will be easy to find what you are looking for. Some photographers have specific locations that they always visit but may need your help with some up to date posing ideas. Others might have a whole closet full of props but not know what’s on-trend for this graduation year. In any case, have a quick scroll, see what you think, and if you find something you absolutely love, let us know! The Studio Kate can help you create senior portraits that will make all your friends jealous!
So here we go…
25 Unique Senior Picture Ideas
Let’s start with a few current trends. Some of these ideas have been around for a while, but they are still trending with this year’s seniors. Others might seem a little silly, but if people didn’t love them, kids wouldn’t be still be posting them!
1. Colored Smoke
I’m seeing a lot of images right now using different colors of smoke bombs. I don’t LOVE this effect, because it’s so often done without much thought. Once you pull that ring, you only have 90 seconds to get the shot, so a little pre-planning goes a long way. If you decide to use them pay attention to the direction of the wind and give yourself a little room. A big cloud of smoke is a cool way to create something different than everyone else, but you’ve got to have a good plan, and execute on it quickly.
2. Scrabble Tiles
Scrabble might not be the newest board game on the block, in fact, it’s almost 100 years old, now, but it’s still a wildly popular game, especially among high school girls who love to read. The great thing about this trend is that you can do so much with it. You could write your name or your high school, you could spell out your graduation year, or even your college destination.
4. Chalk Graffiti
Graffiti walls are always fun for senior photos, but there’s no need to permanently deface something for a 10-minute backdrop. Chalk is easy enough to spray off, and it lets you, the creative senior, do anything they want. Something as simple as a graduation year will work, but maybe you have been drawing this one specific character in your notebooks since 3rd grade. There’s no reason not to express yourself with something that’s highly personal for you. Just be sure you either own the wall, or have the owner’s permission, first!
5. Sign Board
A funny phrase, a favorite Bible verse, or again even just your high school name or graduation year. One of those velvet-like signboards and a bunch of letters could be all it takes to make a custom senior picture that no one else will have. My advice? Get one that already has “pre-cut” letters, so you don’t spend all of your time breaking them apart.
6. In Front Of Your High School
I know. Genius, right? It seems like this would be something that’s done all the time, but it’s really not something you see a whole lot of. You could also consider that sign at the entrance to your city limits or anything else that has your city name on it in huge letters. You’ll be surprised at just how big they are when you get right up next to them.
7. In A School Stairwell
Senior in a stairwell. Yes, it’s been done. But what about THE stairwell. You know… that one particular stairwell at your school that you spent a ton of time in. Maybe you just went up and down it a dozen times a day for four years, or maybe you had your first kiss here, or first saw that guy that you are now sure you are going to spend the rest of your life with. What’s great about a picture like this is that it can just be a stairwell to everyone else but could help you remember something very special 20 years from now.
8. At Your Sports Venue
How many hours have you spent in that gym, on that field, or around that track? When you think about high school, sports might be your very first thought. Most schools will give you access to those facilities if you just have your photographer give them a call and schedule a time that it’s not in use. You can do some amazing things when you have a wide-open space like that all to yourself.
9. In A Field
Tall grass and a big open area really put the focus on you. Even if you take a big blue velvet chair (or anything that seems completely out of place in a field) and put it right there in the middle, it can really create a fun shot that’s all about you. Plan on going well out of your way, and doing a little walking, but we’ve found that some of the best senior pictures are the ones that have almost nothing to distract the viewer.
10. Next To An Old Barn
There’s just something about the texture of the paint peeling off an old barn that looks great against the young style of a fashion-forward senior. If you have one you love, let your photographer know. This is another time that you’ll want to check in with the owner so that you don’t get run off their property during your photoshoot.
When you are thinking about your senior year, you often think about all the big things. What dress you wore to prom. Who showed up at homecoming. The final score of the state tournament. But there are lots of little things that need to be remembered too. Don’t let those details pass you by. One day they’ll be just as important as that picture with your school mascot.
11. Class Ring
Class rings are highly personalized. And while you may think you’ll have it forever, one false move on a jet-ski and it may be at the bottom of the reservoir for the rest of your life. (Not that I have any personal experience in that) This is a fun time to get a close up of your class ring with the rest of you not quite so in focus.
12. Cap and Gown
Lots of students just rent their caps and gowns for the graduation ceremony because it’s too expensive to buy them for just a couple of hours’ use. That’s just fine. Do what your school tells you to do but mention this to your photographer. It’s not all that expensive to get a set that can be used for senior pictures. In fact, they might already have a few different sizes for your school color! If not, you can at least order a mortarboard cap for your pictures. It’s called a mortarboard because it looks like the board that brick masons used to hold mortar, but it’s a perfect fresh canvas for you to express your own ideas. Even if the school doesn’t allow it at your graduation, it’s a fun way to show your personality in your senior portraits.
Don’t forget about the tassel that hangs from your cap. There are a few fun things you can do with that thing. Hold it out and make it the only thing in focus, like a class ring shot. Or even just have it hanging in the background next to that beautiful smile.
You might not take them to college, or even take them with you when you move away from home, but if you have a few awards that you’ve earned over the years, this is a good way to remember them without holding on to them like you were on an episode of hoarders. It doesn’t matter if they are academic awards, sports awards, or just a participation award from a school fundraiser, get a good picture with them all, then you won’t feel like you need to drag them from one house to the next for the rest of your life.
15. Senior Cords
OK, this was a new one to me, and it might be regional to Indiana, but at least here in Noblesville, every year at homecoming all the girls wear their ‘Senior Cords.” As I understand it, the tradition started with yellow corduroy pants, but these days, white denim seems to be a better palette for these wearable works of art. The girls spend the week decorating a fresh pair of white jeans with markers and puffy paint. They write their names, grad year, and their friends’ names. They draw their school mascot, their favorite sports symbols, and other pictures from their twelfth year. I’ve seen everything from phone app logos to inside jokes displayed on these pants, and it’s one of their favorite memories. When you have something that special, I don’t know why some fun close-ups of them wouldn’t be included in your senior pictures.
If the only direction your photographer gives you is “SMILE!” picture after picture, you might want to consider hiring a different one. Smiles are classic, and yes you want some big happy smiles in your photos, but a well-rounded set of expressions can really make for a much better senior portfolio.
16. Natural Smiles
You may not love it. It may not be perfect, but it is your smile. And that’s the face that your friends and family will remember in the times that they knew you were happy. So, yes, play along. Think of something happy. Giggle to yourself a little bit and offer up a full genuine smile to your photographer.
17. Hint of Smile
It doesn’t need to be big full smiles all the time. Relax your face of all expression, barely bring those corners of your mouth up, and let your eyes do the smiling. Again, thinking of something that makes you happy, and let your belly giggle just a little. This is worth spending a little time on in the mirror before you head to the studio for your session. A soft smile can create an amazing image that’s different from everything else out there. When you get it right, you’ll know it. Practice a little at home, so you can turn it on and off during your session.
18. Genuine Laugh
You may not be in the most relaxed moment of your life, but you have got to find something to laugh about. While you may have your eyes shut, a good image of you laughing will bring smiles to everyone who sees it. Fake it if you must but find a way to get a good laugh out of yourself. You might even find that forcing a laugh will get you laughing for real.
19. Fashion Serious
Here at The Studio Kate, one of our favorite things to do is treat our seniors like fashion supermodels. When we are shooting senior sessions, we take the position that we are shooting for a high-end fashion magazine. While fashion models don’t always appear to be happy, the elegance of a flat mouth and a hard stare are always a sought-after look. Sometimes, just trying to create this look will lead to capturing great genuine smiles and laughs as a reaction to the fashion serious attempt.
20. Game Face
Maybe your sport is football or softball. Maybe your passion is cello or marching band. Whatever it is, when it’s time for you to compete, you know what face you put on. Your senior year is more than just fun and games. Let your competitive side show through in these milestone photos.
Your senior pictures are all about you, but one of the best things about you is those other people you have connected with. When you look back at this time, you’ll want to remember those people and those relationships, so don’t be afraid to bring them into the shot.
21. Best Friend
She’s been there through thick and thin. She should be there for this incredible experience with you! One of the best ways to do this is to both book the same photographer, then have your senior photo shoots on the same day, overlapping by 30 or 30 minutes. This allows you to each have focused time with your photographer, but still, get some great pictures together.
22. Your Squad
Whether it’s all the girls at your lunch table, your entire rugby team, or maybe just those 3 girls you’ve known since third grade, they are special to you. Maybe it’s during your senior session, or maybe it’s a separate one with your friends, but this is a great way to solidify that bond of friendship before you all go off to different colleges.
23. Your Brother or Sister
We don’t see this a lot at 17 years old, but sometimes your brother or your sister might be your best friend or your biggest cheerleader. Even if they aren’t, your parents will LOVE that you decided to share the spotlight with them and will certainly want to keep a professional portrait of the two of you hung up in your home.
24. Your Boyfriend
Tattooing your boyfriend’s name on yourself has been a bad idea for hundreds of years but getting a few pictures with him does not have the same consequences. Yes, this relationship may not last forever, but senior pictures are all about remembering who you were at this pivotal moment in your life. And that includes this guy that you’ve been seeing for 2 years. Don’t let him stick around for the whole session. He’ll kill your high fashion vibe, but have him drop in, get a few pics with him, and then have him go get you a table at Outback for a relaxing meal after the shoot.
25. Your Mom
Yes, your mom. 90% of the time, Mom is going to be there with you for the shoot anyway. She’ll always be your biggest fan (and she’s probably paying for your pictures anyway). Invite her in for a couple of quick clicks. Don’t let her tell you she’s not dressed right or didn’t put on all her makeup. You love her just the way she is, and she’ll love that she has a picture with you on this special day.
So, there you have it. 25 more (yes, I know this is not the first article you’ve scrolled through) senior picture ideas that should help you create at least one image that is totally unique to you. Now all you have to do is find a photographer who will listen to you and be willing to work with your to create the amazing photos that you have been looking forward to for the last twelve years. If you need any help with that, just let me know… I’ve got a couple in mind. 😊
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