When it comes to grads photography for a senior girl, the most beautiful images are the ones where the subject is relaxed and comfortable, because this is where her personality and spirit will shine.
CLG grad and family photographer Kellee Kromarek Hann is a master of grads photography, with a seemingly endless list of posing ideas that are both flattering, and help her subjects relax into it. So we asked her to share her go-to poses and prompts that make taking gorgeous senior girl portraits easy!
Related: Prompts & Poses for Guys
Senior girl grad photography sessions are some of my very favorite sessions to shoot, as the girls are all so unique. I’m always quite impressed and inspired by the way they carry themselves… so much more confident than I ever remember feeling at that age!
With all my seniors, regardless of gender, I’m very proactive in showing them images on the back of my camera every once in awhile. This helps ease any anxiety around being photographed, and ensures their personality and uniqueness shine through.
Posing, of course, is huge when it comes to this. When you use poses that flatter, but are also relaxed, you’ll help your subject to feel comfortable, her personality will shine, and you’ll create stunning and natural portraits. So today I’m sharing a handful of easy posing ideas that tick all of those boxes and pave the way for loads of variety in each instance without needing to move your subject.
Leaning is a great way to relax your subject, as it gives her something to do with her body. So if she’s a little nervous when she first arrives for her grads photography session, it’s a great pose to start with. Walls are the perfect place to lean, and create powerful images by ensuring they have great texture, colour or views.
There are multiple variations on both sitting and standing whilst leaning against a wall that you can try:
Sometimes your location offers nothing to lean on, or you might just want to bring some variety to your grads photography session. However standing when she has nothing to lean against can be awkward, but all you need to do is give her something to do with her hands.
Try these poses and take a variation of frames of each one:
The walking shot is a classic in grads photography, try these for variety:
Sitting offers lots of opportunity for really casual poses, which in turn helps your senior girl relax into it. Try these great poses which all give her something natural to do with her hands:
Get variation by moving around and shooting from behind, prompting her to look back at you and smile, or look back and down at the ground.
Don’t forget to get in close when she’s seated for a quick and classic headshot. Combined with a wide aperture, this foliage behind her makes for a beautiful, dense backdrop creating great separation.
Use low walls for casual seating, especially in urban areas. Note it’s made much more dynamic simply by having her lean back on her hand and crossing one leg, which creates interesting lines.
Sitting side on with legs outstretched, one knee bent is a more natural sitting position. It also gives your senior girl somewhere to rest one of her hands, and adds pleasing lines.
Prompt her to face a low wall and lean on it with hands outstretched wider than her body and look back at you. Note the one bent knee gives a more natural look than if both legs with straight.
This is one of my go to poses for grads photography. Usually I have them kneel with one knee up and one down, and this pose is most flattering when shot side on. Try these prompts for variation:
Doorways and stairwells are a great way to frame your subject and provide a huge variety of options for poses:
In this image, the small act of placing the feet on difference steps makes a big difference to the overall look. Her bent knee adds interesting lines and her body turned slightly away from camera is a flattering silhouette for a senior girl.
I have a few favourite poses for head shots that frame the face in a more arty way than the classic headshot:
If they have a dress or some type of kimono or wrap, I love to catch the movement, so I’ll ask them twirl like they are six years old.
Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion, and slow it down if you want to capture some movement.
Have them swish their skirt back and forth in a figure eight to really catch that motion.
Including props or any sports they’re into will help their personalities shine through, whilst also giving you a great variety of images.
Look for opportunities to add strong shapes, leading lines, and ways to frame your subject using architecture or the natural environment.
You can also create shapes through posing… note that in most of my images, I’m always creating interesting, diagonal lines with a bent knee, elbow, or by leaning my subject.
Prompts are a great way to get natural expressions and most of these can be used with all the poses mentioned throughout this tutorial. The idea behind prompts is to elicit natural smiles and laughter through their response, rather than saying “smile, laugh, say cheese!”.
In every single pose I’ve suggested, you can get loads of varied images without needing to move your subject. Simply make small changes through the prompts mentioned throughout and above, by moving yourself, and by taking multiple different frames.
Take half body shots, full body, head and shoulders, head, and full wide shots. Incorporate some negative space. If shooting in an urban environment, highlight that through the inclusion of surrounding buildings, the skyline, gritty walls, traffic, street lights and fences.
Move yourself around your subject to shoot front on, side on, up a little higher, and down at eye level.
Try different focal lengths as well… focal length is not all about changing the distance between your camera and your subject – it actually affects the look of your shot.
Fences are fun to play with, in that you can have them hold onto it with one hand and sway back in the opposite direction.
If you’re shooting in a natural environment, showcase the beauty.
Just like any other session…remember to have FUN! Your senior girl will be just as nervous as you are and probably more! I like to joke around with them about their parents being AWESOME because they hired the “Most amazing photographer EVER!” which is usually good for some genuine laughs and smiles.
Kellee Kromarek Hann is a portrait and family photographer who works both on location and in studio, based in Fargo, ND. If you want to see more of her work, check her out at Soul Tree Photography Studio.
We hope you enjoyed this grad photography posing guide and if you try some of the tips, we’d love to see your work! Share on Instagram and tag #clicklovegrow so we can find you!
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