5 tips to achieve natural looking poses from seniors

  • 5 tips to get natural poses from seniors

5 tips to achieve natural looking poses from seniors

Oh how I love working with senior girls!  The clothes, the make-up, the fact that they actually WANT to have their photos taken… in my book, spending time with a senior and her mom for her portrait session is like a fun filled 2 hour playdate.

Of course these teens want to have amazing photos, so they’ll do pretty much anything you ask of them.  But even though they’re excited and will totally cooperate for you, sometimes they cooperate just a little too much and are so worried about doing it “right.”  The result of this silly self-imposed pressure is that they wind up being a little stiff and overly posed in their photos… obviously completely opposite from the look we’re going for.  To combat that, here are 5 things I keep in mind to achieve natural looking poses from my senior clients.

1.  Have them bend back.

Believe it or not, I have this senior leaning back slightly from her waist.  It’s an ever so slight lean, and the result is subtle.  But what this little action does is work against the propensity to keep a stiff torso which looks so unnatural.  Also, it often makes them giggle because they’re not exactly sure how to do what I’m asking, and they wonder how far to go before they’ll fall over.  In the moment of laughter, that’s when I press the shutter.

senior photography tips by Jodi Arego

2.  Have them lean forward.

I like to tell my girls to lean in towards me like I’m telling the most intriguing story that they just can’t get enough of.  Leaning into the frame helps the viewer engage with the subject… she feels like she’s taking the initiative to connect with you.

how to pose a senior by Jodi Arego

3.  Talk a lot and don’t be afraid to be silly.

My senior sessions are typically like a 2 hour gab fest.  We talk prom, we talk boys, we talk college.  The more we’re genuinely engaged with one another, the more authentic the senior’s expressions will be.  And it will be easier for me to say something that gets a laugh and a relaxed body position when we’ve already been chatting away.  At the end of the session, my girls usually give me a great big hug before getting in their cars to leave.  I know they’ve genuinely had a great time, and the images with their face lit up in a real smile confirm that for me.

posing seniors for photos by Jodi Arego

4.  Give those hands something to do.

One of the things senior clients worry about is what to do with their arms.  Without direction, they’ll very often just stand there flapping their limbs by their side wondering what they’re supposed to do.  Give those arms and hands a place to go.  She can slide her hands in her pockets, twirl her hair with her fingers, or casually play with her long, dangling necklace.  Once she’s not preoccupied with what she’s supposed to be doing, her expression and posture will relax.

natural senior photography poses by Jodi Arego

5.  Create movement.

The photos where I’ve captured the senior doing something are almost always my favorite.  Walking, spinning, laughing, etc, are great prompts to provide alternatives to a standard pose.  If at first it seems forced, don’t be afraid to repeat the action over and over a few times until you get a more comfortable response.  Images with movement are a fantastic complement to the more posed images in your gallery.

how to make a senior look natural in their pictures by Jodi Arego

Do you have favorite tips for capturing natural expressions from your senior clients?  Share them in the comments below.

About the Author:

Jodi Arego is a natural light photographer living in Houston, Texas with her husband and three children. All too aware that “the years are long, but the days are short,” she views photography as a way to celebrate life, connect with others and to express the stories of the heart. With camera in hand, she draws from her own deep sentimentality to show beauty in the simple, the ordinary, and the imperfect. She also enjoys working with high school senior clients as they celebrate the milestone of their graduation. Visit Jodi Arego online.


  1. Kendra Jul 09 2014 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    This is awesome and exactly what I needed. I struggle a lot with posing and feel like a lot of my senior poses are the same over and over again. Thank you for all the great advice!

  2. Kristen Richards Jul 10 2014 at 10:52 am - Reply

    Hello, my tip for seniors from my experience so far is to help them have fun with the shoot. I make ask them fun embarassing questions, such as do you have a boyfriend and is he good looking? LOL I almost always get a beautiful happy smiles. I also have the parents step away from the shoot because it tends to make them nervous and make them feel like a watched pot! I learned this the hard way. 🙂 These are my tips and tricks for getting natural smiles and relaxed bodies.

    Make sure also to not cut off body parts, learned this the hard way too! I always make sure the portrait is full body from head to toe or the top half wih arms and hands in view. I have attached a great example of mine to show!

    http://www.krichardsphoto.com will be live in a few weeks! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


    Kristen Richards

    Katy, TX

  3. Rachel Mc Jul 21 2014 at 11:18 am - Reply

    These are great tips! I think #4 is what I struggle with the most.

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