Seniorologie » The Study of Senior Portrait Photography

  • Welcome to Seniorologie! Learning, taking notes and studying are all things we have in common with high school seniors. As photographers, we are as much students as any senior! Seniorologie is an inspirational blog dedicated to the study of senior portrait photography. We will post unique sessions, behind the scenes, marketing, business tips and more! And if you are a senior, we have posts for you too! Whether you are looking for a photographer in your area, fashion tips to help you get ready for your session or inspiration for your upcoming shoot, we have it! So sit back, take notes, learn and be inspired!

Building Each Other Up – {SHARE THE LOVE POST IT NOTES}

Back in December 2014, I was sitting at my computer editing away while listening (and half watching) the Meredith Viera Show.  I stopped what I was doing when I saw a young girl on the show sharing her story of how she decided to encourage other girls in her school by posting post it notes on lockers, doors etc that had a short, sweet and encouraging message.  Soon her entire school was covered in bright colorful post it notes and others began to share their words of encouragement.

As I was watching the show and listening to the story, I thought ‘why can’t we do that for the photography industry?’  My mind started working and thought what if we could send digital post it notes of encouragement to others in the industry.  I quickly called up two of my friends in the industry and asked if I could run an idea by them.  Latasha Haynes of Ike & Tash and Spanki Mills of Spanki Mills Photography are two woman who inspire me on a daily basis so I knew they would be the right ones to talk to about this idea.  We tried to set up a Skype call to discuss this idea but with our busy schedules it just wasn’t possible.  So group texts began and I shared my thoughts of how we could take this idea by this sweet teen and turn it into an encouraging moment for our industry.

After all, we all sit at our desks, working from home or a studio, mostly alone so wouldn’t it brighten someones day to know they are inspiring others or doing a great job and someone out there sees that.  Of course Latasha and Spanki were both in love with this idea so I thought why not share it with all of you!

If there is a photographer or business owner out there that has either inspired you, motivated you or encouraged you through direct contact or just by their work, let them know!  If you are friends with other photographers in the industry, brighten their day with a little digital sticky note of encouragement.  I have created a few digital notes that you can use to share the love.  Simply take one of these, post it on someones Facebook page or post it on Instagram and tag someone you are inspired by in your post and use the following hashtags:  #sharethelove, #buildeachotherup, #stickynotelove, #seniorologie.  Let them know what or how they have helped you in this business.  Let’s all build each other up and not be afraid to reach out to others in the industry and give them a compliment!

To participate in the Share the Love Post It Note movement, click here to grab your favorite (or all!) post it note and start encouraging others today!


Geni Bean - I LOVE THIS IDEA!!! I remember reading about “the post it note” girl also and what a sweet idea. I”m soo glad you’ve brought this to our industry! :)

Senior Style – {Spring Fashion}

Today’s Senior Style post is from our guest style contributor Mandy Evans.  Check out Mandy’s take on some of her favorite spring trends!

Daylight Savings has come and gone and as the light continues to get a little bit longer with each passing day, I know many of you are ready to get out and enjoy some Spring photo sessions! As graduation for most seniors is just a few months away, now is the time to start planning your Spring senior session with some of the newest fashion trends of the season. I hit the shop floor at The Uptown Boutique to find out about some of the hottest looks for Spring!



One of our favorite fashion trends this spring are STRIPES! We can’t get enough! From blazers, tunics and maxi dresses. Stripes are easily dressed up with accessories or you can keep things basic with a great pair of sandals. This maxi dress by Liola, is on point with a unique tiered hemline.


STATE LOVE is still going strong, we absolutely adore these super soft t-shirts by Charlie Southern. We paired Paige’s tshirt with distressed jeans and an acid denim top. To dress up this denim chic look just a bit, we added this super cute and girly fedora that adds a touch of color with a band around the base.


After a couple of long winter months, I am so excited to see bright and vivid NEON colors returning to the shop floor. We dressed Cami in an amazing bright orange sweater, which is the perfect weight for Spring and paired it with ruffled FLORAL shorts and booties. Love this casual and flirty style for our sporty girl.


Flowers are starting to pop up outside, and they are also all over our favorite labels this Spring. Make a bold statement with a large printed FLORAL tunic or dress. We chose this amazing blue tunic by umgee to match Cassandra’s eyes, the added coral lip gloss tied in perfectly with the warm hues in the floral print. (Isn’t she lovely)!


We are so excited that chambray has decided to stick around for another season, because we can’t get enough! We’ve paired this super cute dress with another HOT fashion trend for the Spring, CROCHETED LACE.

It’s all in the planning, use these helpful tips to put together your own Fashion forward Spring look perfect to celebrate your senior year.


Big thanks to these amazing senior models for helping out, and the #uptowngirlgang for doing what you do best! You can find all of these looks at

Mandy Evans Photography

Senior Inspiration – {Michelle Koechle Photography}

Creating a unique backdrop can really set your senior sessions apart!  In this beautiful session below, Michelle Koechle of Michelle Koechle Photography in Flagstaff, Arizona created a beautiful backdrop of colorful ribbon.

“I was inspired by a photo I saw on Pinterest and had saved for quite some time,” said Michelle.

Check out this beautiful session below and read what Michelle had to say about it.  Thanks for sharing your work with Seniorologie Michelle.





What was your inspiration for this photo shoot?
My inspiration for this shoot actually came from an image I found on Pinterest and had saved for quite some time. It was an image of a high fashion shoot with the model wearing a beautiful long dress while standing under a tree of ribbon.

We live in a small town and because of this, a lot of the images for high school seniors here in Flagstaff end up looking the same. I try to look for creative concepts and different locations because of this and my goal for each senior session is to have it in a different location from all the others seniors I’ve shot that year. This way, no one has the same looking images as anyone else who has had their photos taken by me. Adding in the different concepts helps to make each senior’s session unique to them. Monica loved the idea of playing with ribbons hanging from a tree!

Where did this photo shoot take place?
We found a lovely little spot out in the woods in Flagstaff.

Did you collaborate with this senior to come up with the clothing and/or concept for this shoot?
Yes, Monica loved the idea of doing the ribbons hanging from the tree. She actually is an aspiring make-up artist and hopes to pursue doing make-up on the side while she’s in college. She did her own make-up for her shoot and her make-up Instagram is @monicaalgyamakeup

What camera, lens or other equipment was used for this shoot?
Canon 5DMIII
50 mm 1.2 Lens
Westcott 5-in-1 reflector

What time of day were these taken?
Late afternoon


Can you share any post-processing techniques used when editing this session?
My post-processing is pretty simple incorporating some skin smoothing, a boost in contrast and color and removing of any red tinting.

What is your favorite thing about this session?
I love Monica! She was so photogenic and knocked out every pose as if she is a student by day, model by night. Her smile is amazing!

What do you want this session to convey about this senior and about your senior photography style?
I wanted this session to convey Monica’s unique, ambitious and colorful personality. She is so involved in her high school career that it was clear to me we needed to do something different for her.

What is one tip you can share with other photographers regarding photographing seniors?
I think it’s important to make each senior feel confident. They’re going through so much, learning, growing and so many new pressures put on them each day. Their photoshoot should almost be a release for them – a source of fun that makes them feel good about themselves when it’s all said and done.


Senior Inspiration – {Ali Ann Photography}

Color is a great way to express a bright and cheery personality in a photo shoot.  This shoot below tells me that this girl is full of life, fun and loves color!

“Meet Jodi!  She is one of my 2015 Senior Spokesmodels,” said Alison Garey of Ali Ann Photography.  “She brought such amazing outfits and props for her session!”  “I love how the bright and glossy turquoise building photographs and I thought the balloons and her hot pink maxi skirt would be perfect for this look,” said Ali.

Check out this shoot below and read what else Ali had to say about it!  Thanks for sharing your work with Seniorologie Ali!




What was your inspiration for this photo shoot?
Jodi wanted a lot of color for her shoot.

Where did this photo shoot take place?
Lexington, KY
Around Downtown Lexington

Did you collaborate with this senior to come up with the clothing and/or concept for this shoot?
We collaborated on outfits, props, and locations.

What camera, lens or other equipment was used for this shoot?
5D Mark III
35mm 1.4

What time of day were these taken?


Can you share any post-processing techniques used when editing this session?

What is your favorite thing about this session?
I love all the color she incorporated from outfits, locations, props, lip color.

What do you want this session to convey about this senior and about your senior photography style?
I was want my seniors personality and inner beauty to shine through the images I take. My photography style is also always bright and colorful.

What is one tip you can share with other photographers regarding photographing seniors?
Always make them feel as comfortable as possible so you can capture everything about them.


Topic Tuesday – {Graduation Etiquette}

Graduation is literally just around the corner and as my calendar reflects (I have a shoot every single day of the week in April!), some seniors are frantically trying to get their photos taken in time to send out Graduation Announcments, Invitations and/or Party Invitations.  So how can you as the photographer guide them through this process?  By knowing the rules of etiquette when it comes to all things Graduation.

Many of you may not know this, but prior to being a photographer I owned an invitation business. I created party invitations, shower invitations and more and became quite versed in invitation etiquette.  So with that knowledge and a little research from the web, I have gathered some information that will come in handy for you when your clients order Graduation Cards.

Invitation versus Announcements

What is the difference?  I have parents ask me this sometimes so I need to be prepared with the correct answer so I can be sure to guide them into what they really need.

While Invitations and Announcements look very similar, the wording is where the major difference is.  An Invitation invites the person who receives it to the actual graduation ceremony.  In my area (check your area to see if it is the same), each student is only allowed a certain amount of invitations to the actual ceremony.  Because of this, some of my clients opt to use the school invitation for that purpose then order a fun graduation announcement with their photo from me.

The invitations, whether they are ordered through the school or through me, need to include the following:

  • Date of Ceremony
  • Time of Ceremony
  • Location of Ceremony
  • Name of person graduating
  • High School they are graduating from
  • Class of 2015 or whatever year it is

Announcements are used when a person would like to share with someone that they are graduating but not necessarily inviting this person to the ceremony or party.  It is simply an announcement saying, “Hey I’m Graduating!”:) These are usually sent out to friends, parent’s friends, work associates, long-distant relatives and others who would want to know of the accomplishment.

An announcement usually has the following info:

  • Name of Person Graduating
  • Class of 2015 or whatever year it is
  • High School that they are graduating from
  • Optional:  Name of College they are going to attend

As you can see, the announcement has less information than the invitation and does not invite them to attend the ceremony.

When to Send Out Invitations

According to Emily Post, invitations should be sent out three to four weeks before event and if the invitee is out of town, invitations can be sent up to six weeks prior to the event to give enough time to make travel arrangements.  This goes for both ceremony invitations and graduation party invitations.

When to Send Out Annoucements

According to Lizzie Post, Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter, in an article on, graduation announcements are to be sent after the ceremony has taken place.  I must admit this is something I learned today and I am so glad I did.  This is a great tip for your seniors because they may be thinking they need to send it out earlier and rush to get their photos taken.  But if you wait until after the ceremony has taken place, that gives us photographers a little more time to get those shoots in.

Graduation Party Invitations

Graduation Party Invitations are similar to the graduation ceremony invitations in that they invite someone to attend an event.  The difference being the event itself.  Some graduates have parties to celebrate this important accomplishment.  The party can be mixed with both adults and teens as well as include family and non-family members.  The party can also include those that may have already been invited to the ceremony but they would receive two different cards in the mail…one inviting them to the ceremony and one inviting them to the party.

Photographers can create graduation party invitations using the images from that senior’s photo session.  Using the information for the actual party, you will need to make sure you have the following on the invitation:

  • Date of Party
  • Location of Party
  • Time of Party
  • Who the Party is Celebrating
  • Regrets or RSVP
  • Optional – what type of party such as formal, casual, etc

Like the invitations to the actual graduation ceremony, party invitations should be sent out three to four weeks before the date of the party and if they are going to out-of-town guests, you should send them up to six weeks prior to the party to allow time for travel arrangements.

Should I as the Photographer Attend

This question was posted by Caroline of CG3 Photography in one of the private Seniorologie Facebook Groups and a lot of others replied.  If you receive an invitation to either the ceremony or graduation party, should you go?

My answer, along with a lot of the others in the groups answer, is that it depends on how close you are to that person.  I feel like I get really close to my girls and because of that I want to support them in their accomplishments.  So if I get invited to a party or a ceremony I try to go.  If it doesn’t work out that I can, they understand but I definitely try to attend.

I think this is a personal decision and one that you have to be comfortable with.  I don’t think it is a necessity that you attend but if you get invited then you should definitely consider it because it would probably mean a lot to that particular client.

Should I Give a Gift

According to Emily Post, if you receive a graduation announcement you should give a gift.  The gift does not have to break the bank but could be something simple and meaningful.  A few ideas of gifts are:

  • Starbucks Gift Card
  • If you know the college they will attend, something with the school on it
  • A Card with heartfelt advice
  • Photo Product – mini album, extra print, notepad, etc
  • Gift Card to favorite local boutique

With graduation season upon us, I hope you will find this post helpful and guide your clients to help them through this season.  Feel confident when they ask you questions about graduation invitations, party invitations and announcements!




Senior Inspiration – {Lunabear Studios}

What is more colorful and fun than a state fair?  This session below took place at the Arizona State Fair and is full of candy, color and more.

“This session was inspired by the song ‘I Want Candy’ and a love for all things sweet from the state fair,” said Lauren Streiff from Lunabear Studios in Phoenix, Arizona.  “Olivia was a blast and absolutely a joy to shoot!”

Check out this fun session below and read what else Lauren had to share about it.  Thanks for sharing your work with Seniorologie Lauren!





What was your inspiration for this photo shoot?
This session was inspired by the song “I Want Candy” and a love for all things sweet from the state fair. Olivia was a blast and absolutely a joy to shoot!

Where did this photo shoot take place?
The Arizona State Fair

Did you collaborate with this senior to come up with the clothing and/or concept for this shoot?
Olivia sent me some photos of her outfit choices before her shoot but at the end of the day I wanted her to feel GREAT – so whatever outfit she felt the most confident in, that’s what I wanted her to wear.

What camera, lens or other equipment was used for this shoot?
Canon 6D, Canon 70-200mm 2.8 I, Sigma Art 35mm 1.4

What time of day were these taken?
Late afternoon


Can you share any post-processing techniques used when editing this session?
I love the look of film so I started with some of my favorite Rad Lab film and slide emulations – but I ended up customizing the levels to make the session as consistent as possible despite the vastly different lighting set ups throughout the shoot. I like to leave the seniors as natural as possible – senior sessions should capture them exactly as they are!

What is your favorite thing about this session?
The colors! I absolute adore colorful sessions and seeing all the colors of the fair and having a model who was happy to laugh, smize and play with me was an absolute dream.

What do you want this session to convey about this senior and about your senior photography style?
Olivia was totally up to wander the fair, eat cotton candy and let me create and find perfect places for her photos. I want all my sessions to be adventures! Where my clients can showcase their personality and personal style and get to come alive – whether that means big laughs or smoldering eyes. I love that this session captures the different sides of Olivia and that we had a blast shooting it.

What is one tip you can share with other photographers regarding photographing seniors?
Let them be themselves! I do my best to talk with my seniors, find out what they love, who’s style they admire and what photos make them swoon on Instagram. Let them guide the session as much as possible and don’t be afraid to explore and try some new things – seniors are fun and adventurous, you should be too.