Wednesday, April 27, 2022

It is that time of year again - Senior portraits

As April comes to a close, we are getting that much closer to the end of another school year, and this is the time of year when many parents are looking for portraits of their future graduates. Over the last couple of months, in between photographing lots of personal and corporate events, I have been capturing senior portraits.

For all of you who are looking to capture portraits of your graduate, I thought I would share some tips with you in order to get the best photos.

If you already have your cap and gown, this is a great chance to give it a trial run. For this portrait, I found a good shady area to avoid any harsh light on my subject, and took the photo at f/2.8 to create a lot of separation between my subject and the background.

My goal when taking any portraits is to show who they are, not who I am. Here, we included this young man's skateboard since this is one of his hobbies.

I took standard portraits of him, using my favorite Canon 70-200mm lens...

...but I also broke out the Canon 15-35mm wide angle lens to try something different.

This young man is really into tennis, so his mother asked me if we could do senior portraits of him in action. For these images, I had the camera in I/O servo focus mode (follow focus) and made sure to have a shutter speed of at least 1/1250 sec to freeze the action. I also positioned myself to get the cleanest background possible (with less distractions).

Whenever I shoot, I try to push the boundaries and go beyond the obvious photos. While I was taking photos of him playing tennis, I noticed the shadows and thought that this would make a cool image as well. For this shot, I waited for him to serve the ball, focused the camera on the shadow as opposed to him, and bursted out a bunch of frames. The key here is to look for something different every time you shoot.

One of the trickiest parts of taking a good portrait is what to do with the hands. If you have ever seen someone stand with their arms straight down, it really does not look very good, so I try to get my subjects to cross their arms, lean against something, or both. 

I never stop looking for good shooting locations, and try to place my subjects in places which will add to their photos. This is a tile staircase in San Francisco that has always been a favorite of mine.

Since we were shooting Hannah's senior portraits in San Francisco, we had to make a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge. For this image, I used an off-camera flash (to my left) to light her and keep her from being silhouetted by the bright background. 

As I mentioned before, I am always looking for places for my subjects to lean against and to rest their hands. 

It is not uncommon for the kids to have different outfits to change into. In these three photos, you can see three different sides of this young man brought out in the images. 

Almost all of my senior portraits now are taken with the Canon R3 and Canon RF70-200mm lens, and usually at f/2.8 or f/4. And 90% of the time I am popping a flash (powered down to -1) to add a bit of fill flash to the subject and catch light to their eyes. In the photo above, I also had some late afternoon sunlight shining through the trees, which created beautiful backlighting on her hair.

I am always very aware of my foreground and backgrounds, and love to capture images with many layers of color.

I really like trying a wide variety of poses. This gives the client more variety in their images, but also gives them some very different looks to choose from. 

My favorite thing to do when posing subjects is to ask them to sit or stand how they think it is most comfortable. Inevitably, I find that I can get the best photos when they are feeling like themselves and not overly posed. There are many times when I will ask them to make small changes, but it is a good starting point.

I don't know why, but over the years I have made it a habit to ask my subjects to give me two thumbs up. It is a fun pose and most everyone has a good time with it. I never consciously started this,. it just became "my thing".  The most important tip is to have fun when you are taking the photos, so that both you and the subject are relaxed, having fun, and getting great shots. 

I hope this helps you get great shots of your graduate!


Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 


No comments: