What Are Senior Pictures?

Growing up in the northeast, I always knew what senior pictures were all about. They were a part of the rite of passage when graduating high school. It was only when I became a professional photographer that I realized that senior pictures weren’t always popular throughout the United States. So, in this blog post, I want to explore exactly what senior photos entail.

Pictures During Your Senior Year in High School

Traditionally, senior pictures were a way to separate a high school senior’s yearbook picture from those of the underclassmen. And, since it was the last year of high school, it was also a way to document this important time in a students life.

In the past, these pictures consisted of seniors getting dressed up (ladies in a dress or sweater, guys in a suit) and sitting in front of a backdrop in a photography studio. This is the way traditional portraits were done for a long time. But things started to change.

Photographers Explore Creative Senior Pictures

Photographers started getting more creative. They left the controlled (and boring) environment of the studio and started doing senior pictures on location. Still using traditional methods but doing so in different environments.

Field high school senior picture outdoors

As photographers did more and more photo sessions on location, they began to break the chains of traditional techniques. Using ambient light more. Adding flash when needed. Being more mobile. This opened up even more creative possibilities.

creative high school senior picture at Cleveland Museum of Art
unique senior picture at a church in Cleveland

Modern Senior Pictures

As I mentioned, there are several different types of modern senior pictures. There are the traditional photos where you sit in front of a backdrop. I don’t do this type. These pictures all look the same to me. That is ok if you want aesthetic symmetry (everyone’s pictures looking exactly the same). if you are constructing a year book but not if you want something different.

The personality and interests of each senior will dictate what type of pictures they will get. There are rural type pictures. What I like to call “trees and leaves” pictures. These are done in a park and reflect the outdoors and nature. There are more urban pictures. What I call “bricks and steel” or city pictures. These are done in a downtown area. For me, it’s usually downtown Cleveland. And you can have a combination of the two. This is a good option to get the best of both worlds.

And then there are pictures that not many senior portrait photographers will do. These are senior pictures at night. These are my favorite not only because not many photographers do them, but they are the most dynamic and creative. They defininelty have a distinct look and that is exactly what my clients want.

So documenting the milestone that is a students senior year in high school. That is, basically, what senior pictures are. How you go about doing it is up to the senior and how well and how unique they want their pictures to be.

senior picture of girl standing in front of Cleveland Museum of Art
senior picture on east fourth street cleveland
horizontal senior picture in Cleveland Arcade