Senior Planning Guide

Senior Planning Guide

Senior Planning Guide

by Cassie Clarkson


Clothing to AVOID:

  • AVOID Bright or Neon Colors.   Bright neon colors can reflect unflattering color casts on your skin.
  • AVOID Bold Patterns, Logos, or Words on Your Shirt.  Bold patterns, logos, or words on your shirt distract the viewer of the portrait from the subjects’ face.
  • AVOID Bulky/”puffer” style vests or coats and loose fitting or flowy clothes.  Bulky/”puffer” style vests or coats and loose fitting or flowy clothes can be very flattering in person when the subject is viewed in motion.   However, in a still portrait, these types of clothing make the subject look much larger than they are in real life.  Your best bet is to stick with more form fitting clothing to ensure a more flattering portrait for your figure

  • Turtlenecks can be unflattering in portraits for


Encouraged Clothing (for both Ladies and Gentlemen)

  • Layers.  Jackets, sweaters, cardigans, etc. are all great!  Layering adds great dimension in portraits.   
  • Accessories.  Jewelry, scarves, or any other accessories are great!  Especially if it has some sort of personal meaning to you (class ring, gift from a loved one, heirloom, etc).
  • Solid colors, subtle patterns, and textures; this adds a lot of visual interest to the portrait without distracting the viewer from your face.
  • Classic Timeless Styles.  Electing for an outfit that is classic and timeless over something particularly trendy is always a good choice.  Fashion trends come and go but these portraits will last a lifetime.  You may want to select clothing that won’t make you look silly in twenty years.
  • Footwear.  Your feet will show!  Coordinate your socks (no white socks with dark pants and dark shoes, no crazy pattern neon socks etc.).  Make sure shoes are clean and match your outfit.  LADIES BRING COMFORTABLE WALKING SHOES if we are shooting on location, you will be walking.  Wear comfy shoes until we get where we are going and then change into your heels.  Walking in the grass with stilettos is not easy 😉  

Encouraged Clothing for the Ladies

  • Form fitting clothing.  This is true mostly for the ladies who want to appear slim and slender.  Selecting clothes that hugs your shape is the absolute best option for me to pose you in the most flattering way.  I get to focus on you and your best angles rather than battling the bulk and flow of loose fitting clothing that will make you appear larger than you are!

    Sleeves.  Again, this one is mostly for the ladies.  ¾ sleeve shirts are the most flattering for portraits, completely sleeveless can be unflattering for some; if you are often self conscious of the appearance of your arms in photos , I would encourage you to select wardrobe options with sleeves.  However, if you are super confident with yourself feel free to rock those shoulders!
    Necklines for the ladies.  V-neck shirts or similar styles where the neckline is not tight against the throat are great for portraits.  It elongates the neck and shows off your collarbones.  A plunging neckline that shows cleavage probably isn’t appropriate for senior portraits, so don’t get too carried away with that one!  😉

Other Things to Consider


Make sure your hands are clean and nails well groomed.  Your hands will be prominent in many of the poses we do.


Avoid radically changing your hair before your session.  Haircuts should be done a week before your session to look their best.  If you color your hair, don’t forget your roots.  Highlights should be touched up two weeks prior to your appointment.  Try to tame flyways as best you can.  They will stand out and can be quite distracting.  If you have bangs make sure the length isn’t hitting at the level of your eye, the camera will focus on your hair rather than the eye itself.

Quick hair changes during your session are great, but make it easy and fast or you lose valuable camera time.


Do not over-do the tanning bed or sun.  A three day rest from tanning is recommended before your session.  Redness in your skin will show up much more in portraits than it does in person.  If you have tan lines, make clothing selections to conceal them.


Makeup in person looks much different than makeup in portraits, so please follow these guidelines to look your best in your portraits.

Do not go heavy with foundation or concealer.  I will correct acne and undereye circles in post processing.  The more makeup that is caked on your skin, the less natural the result may appear.  If you are using a foundation be sure you are using the right color so your face matches the rest of your skin.  Use only matte makeup, avoid any makeup with shimmer or glitter.

Definitely wear lip color and gloss!

False eyelashes are FANTASTIC for portraits.  THAT SAID: if you are not used to wearing them, have them applied by someone who is, preferably a professional.  Please do not attempt to teach yourself the day of your session.  I would prefer no makeup at all to poorly applied makeup or lashes.Please no heavy handed mascara or eye lash clumps, the camera will magnify that and it is exceptionally unflattering.


A friend, a pet, your car, motorcycle, sports equipment, uniforms, trophies, books, instrument, hunting gear, computers, etc. are always welcome.


Every family dynamic is unique.  In my personal experience as a high school senior portraitist, the majority of my seniors feel more comfortable and relaxed without an “audience”.  Most people don’t like others staring at them while they have their picture taken.  The presence of siblings in particular and sometimes parents can often bring tension to the portrait session that will be noticeable in the facial expressions and body language of the senior.  We want this experience to be as positive, optimistic, and relaxed as possible.  I welcome anyone who wants to join in and tag along of course!  But only if that is what my senior wants, this is their experience.  Sometimes having the family give us a bit of space during the session is the best way to help!

Side note: you can always have a family portrait done at the beginning or end of the senior portrait session at no additional cost.  Many families take advantage of this and I think it’s wonderful!     


Pets are always welcome!  I am a Registered Veterinary Technician so I am quite experienced working with him.  I am happy to photograph cats at your home, but please do not attempt to bring cats on location.  If you are bringing a dog make sure you have a designated handler to care for your pet, or even take them home after we are done photographing with them.    


Please know the guidelines and requirements for your schools’ yearbook prior to your session.  Every school is different; some schools prohibit the use of certain props or sleeveless shirts.  Others require the traditional in-studio headshot etc.  There will also be deadlines you will need to be aware of to plan accordingly.  If I am sending the picture to your school on your behalf please provide me with the appropriate email address.

Most Importantly… bring your CONFIDENCE!!!!

The absolute key to looking your very best is to exude CONFIDENCE during your portrait session.  I cannot express this enough.  You can ignore all the other advise here, and JUST be 100% confident… you will love the end result.  Confidence is what makes or breaks it.  If a pose feels strange or awkward you can tell me and I can change it… but you should trust me.  This is what I do.  It is my #1 priority to make you look your BEST!  I would not pose you in a way that wasn’t flattering.  So wherever we end up, however you are posed… OWN IT.  ROCK IT.  Even if you are unsure, “fake it til’ you make it”.  Easier said than done, I understand!  Most people are very uncomfortable with a camera pointed at them, myself included.  Just do your best to relax, and enjoy the experience.     

Don't Forget!

Text me (740-630-7737) pictures of your outfits a couple days before your session so that I may plan and coordinate sets and locations to compliment your wardrobe selections!  If you ever need advice, or a second opion on an outfit, text me ANY TIME!  I am here to help you every step of the way!

Don't Forget to have your folks submit your session agreement and I need you to submit your unique as you questionnaire as well!  Click the link below for quick direct access!