Written by 6:00 am Photography, Portrait Photography • 2 Comments

Senior Portrait Rules and Resources New Photographers Must Know

Senior portraits have been an American tradition for over a hundred years and were traditionally shot by a school-invited studio where everyone was posed the same way. Today almost anything goes for a senior portrait and that can be lucrative for freelance photographers.

If you’re new to senior portrait photography, here are some things to know:

Photographer taking picture of woman laying on floor

1) Not All Schools Accept Freelance Portraits

Before you market too heavily to certain districts, find out which schools contract strictly with certain studios and which ones are more lax. While any student can commission their own senior portraits for ceremony invitations and keepsakes, some schools will only allow the robe-and-cap standard portrait into the actual yearbook.


2) Specs Matter

Find out the school’s requirements. Many schools want their yearbook shots to be vertical with no props or hands in-frame. If you’re just taking shots for a senior’s invitations then there are fewer rules to worry about.


3) Consider the Professional School Photographers Association International

Particularly suited for those working directly with and for schools, the PSPA provides licensing, insurance options, and handy format guidelines.


4) Prepare to Print

Seniors need prints for their ceremony invitations so print sales are a bigger guarantee from this client type. Don’t be caught unprepared! Get print samples and template tests ahead of time and find out how to prepare your files for print.


5) Railroad Shots Are Vetoed

Just in case anyone missed the memo, posing your seniors on railroad tracks has been publicly condemned. Even if you’re not easily swayed by public sentiment, know that U.S. railroad tracks are private property.

We hope these tips help get you started with senior portrait photography in time for the fall season!

Tags: Last modified: May 23, 2020