8 Poses for High School Seniors

In this comprehensive photography posing tutorial for professional photographers, discover 8 essential poses specifically tailored for high school seniors. From casual and natural to elegant and confident, learn how to expertly guide your subjects for captivating portraits. Join us as we delve into the art of posing, exploring key techniques, composition, and tips to enhance your photography skills. 

Equipment Used:

Camera: Canon EOS R5
Lens: Canon RF28-70
Light: Natural Light

Team:

Photographer: Sal Cincotta 
Model: Blaire Winter

Today, we are going to cover pretty quickly eight simple poses that will change the way you photograph high school seniors. Every photographer I know always struggles with posing in general, but then they definitely struggle when they are working with young teens. In general, it’s always an awkward moment. If you put these eight simple poses in your back pocket and start there, every one of your shoots will be a lot smoother, a lot easier. And then of course, from there, I like to say season to taste. You’ll start figuring out what works for you, what doesn’t work for you, what works for a teen, and what doesn’t work for a teen. If you have these in your back pocket as a place to start, your images will start looking stronger and stronger and help build confidence for your senior, because now they clearly understand what you’re asking to do, and they know that it’s looking good.

#1 Hands on the Hips

So first up on the poses, we’re going to spread our stance. Real simple, hands on the hips. But don’t make this so vanilla. Just pop that hip a little bit. Teach them to pop their hip, right? Either right or left, whatever looks and feels comfortable, each kid is going to look and feel a little bit different.

Looking at the Camera - Vertical

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

Looking away from the Camera - Vertical

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

For bonus credit here, I’m teaching you eight poses, but really, they’re going to be looking at camera and looking away. So now, those eight poses are going to give you 16 different looks. And so, it’s very similar to what we’d call flow posing. Not only that, we can shoot it vertical and shoot it horizontal, and that also increases our looks, doubles them up.

Looking at the Camera - Horizontal

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

Looking away from the Camera - Horizontal

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

So now, with that one pose, I’ve gotten four completely different shots: looking at camera, one, looking away, two, vertical. Looking at camera horizontal, looking away horizontal. So now, one pose just gave you four looks in your portfolio and the images you’re going to show your clients. So keep that in mind. It’s like bonus pro- tip. It’s like you’re just getting all this extra stuff for free

#2 Hands in Front

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

#3 Arms Behind the Back

Arms behind your back. Now, when you go arms behind the back, give me a little bit of flex so I can see through the arms here. This becomes really important just to get a little bit more depth. Roll the shoulders forward. I want to see those collarbones. And then shimmy the shoulders a little bit.

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

#4 Hands up into the Equation

Now, we’re going to bring hands up into the equation. And this is where people really struggle for a number of reasons. You’ve got to manage this correctly. So I’m going to tell her what I want her to do. Let’s go one hand on the hip and then this hand just right here next to your face. Beautiful. Very soft hands, chin down.

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

So the thing that’s important here are angles, right? So we’ve got an angle coming off her chest or her shoulders, angle here, angle back up. And then you don’t want this hand getting straight, right? It’s got to have a little bit of that angle, and that makes it a much more pleasing shot. And trust me, if you have to come in here and just show them what you’re looking for, that’s okay. We do it all the time with our kids. It looks awkward. It’s going to feel awkward. And if you’re coaching them through it, it’s actually a good thing. 

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

#5 Bang Sweep

Then something else I like to do again with hands, is take her other hand. Whatever side of her face her bang is at, I want that hand to gently pull her hair back. And again, we’re going to have the same problems. When you ask kids to pull their hair back, they don’t know how to make it look right naturally. It’s just super awkward. It’s like this big monstrous hand. Again, their hand should be very soft, almost like they’re holding a pencil

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

So, what you should focus on is her shoulder area. Watch what happens to her shoulder when she puts her hand on her hip. Shoulder looks completely different when she puts her hand across her body. It just depends on what you’re looking for and how you’re going to frame this up. Okay. So you’re seeing even once we get to the pose, I’m still finessing it to get it to look just right. So the pose has to be in the back of your mind as you go through this, for lack of a better term, flow of poses. But I would do this on a brick wall for a high school senior. I would do it in front of an ivy fence, and on and on. It doesn’t matter that I’m in the studio. I would go through this flow and give her as much variety as possible.

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

#6 Hands-Over-the-Head

Now, every kid is not going to be able to pull this hands-over-the-head pose off, right? And that’s okay. That’s why you want to have this in your arsenal and you work up to it. What you don’t want to do is get with a high school senior and just be like, “Hey, let’s start with the most awkward post humanly possible. Let’s put our hands over our heads, because you do that every day.” No, you don’t. And that’s why it never looks and feels right. So we’re building to this as we go

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

#7 Arms Crossed

Now, let’s go to arms crossed. This is all about attitude. But something to make it look better is, when you cross, now I want your shoulders to shimmy.

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

#8 Lower Body S-Curve

Now, we’ve gone through several poses here to give us a nice plethora of shots. Any parent would be happy with it. The kids would be happy with it. But let’s keep making it stronger. Now, what we want to do is mess with the lower body, which I haven’t even touched. So let’s go ankles together, hands on the hips. Don’t put them perfectly symmetrical. Make them asymmetrical. Pop the hip a little bit for more angles. What we’re doing there is creating a beautiful S-curve in her body. It’s very asymmetrical, the way we have her hands.

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

Now, I’m just going to keep building off this. I’m building off all the looks that we’ve been working through. And once you’ve done this with your senior for the first outfit, the next set of outfits is going to be simple.

Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200
Settings: f/2 @ 1/400, ISO 200

And there you have it, guys. How easy and efficient is that in moving through your poses? Get out there and crush it!

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