Senior Portraits: A Photographer’s Perspective

JessiKorch_seniorportraitsAs a photographer, I’m starting to get requests for graduation photos. This means requests to take photos, make the seniors look their best, and help cement the Penn State memories within a single click of a camera.  Let me provide my photographer’s perspective on senior photos so the relationship between the client and photographer can be at its best, producing the best possible photos.

The process of taking senior photos does not stop after the photo shoot.  Most photographers use post-processing to color balance and remove blemishes or unwanted marks. Photoshop is the favorite post-processing program amongst many, including myself. If you are wondering why the photos cost as much as they do, it is because of the extra time it takes to pick the best photos and edit them.  Here are some tricks so you can get the best photo without the excessive post processing:

1. Wear basic makeup to even out the skin tone, such as foundation and concealer.  A blended application can allow photographers to not edit out every mark or blend the foundation line in with the natural skin.

2. Personalize your hairstyle to your favorite look and eliminate frizz.  If too many strands of hair stick out, the photographer has to remove each strand without ruining the face and background in order for the hair to look neat and carefully stylized.

3. Straighten out the cap and gown for a neater look.  The wrinkles create extra shadows that can take away from your face.

4. Pick an overcast day for your photography.  You then get even, soft light on your face without having dramatic shadows.  Softer shadows or even a lack of are more flattering to the face and figure.

When taking senior portraits, Penn State’s hot spots are the Lion Shrine, Old Main and the Penn State University signs on the borders of the campus.  They are campus landmarks and are perfect backdrops to prove that you are indeed a Penn State grad.  However, these spots tend to either have a line or get crowded with other people who want to take the same photos.

Want to mix it up?  Try different locations and be sure to bring comfy shoes to get from one location to the other. Photographers go location scouting so they find cool and unique places to recommend.  Here are my top favorites:

The main building for your major

It is more personalized to who you are.  There are always unique characteristics to these buildings that make them fun and worth having in your photos.

The Penn State Arboretum

This locale may be a bit of a hike off campus, but it is worth it. You can pose next to bamboo thickets, a lotus pond, an array of pumpkins for the fall and seasonal foliage. At the top, there is a pavilion that overlooks the mountainside.  Posing by the curtains or in front of the mountains make the photos even more breathtaking.

Millennium Science Complex

This is a recently planted garden right off of Shortlidge Road.  You can sit on a bench along the winding paths and be in front of heavily tended plants.

Palmer Museum of Art and nearby sculpture garden

If you are an art aficionado, try a photo near the museum.  You can pose next to one of the paws or be under one of the archways.  The sculpture garden is a unique setting with avant-garde pieces.  One of them also makes for the perfect seat to pose.


There are so many different characteristics to the downtown district.  Plus, it’s where many students go for shopping, food and entertainment also every weekend.  Try the alleyway by the Tavern for a neighborhood approach or even the outside of the lower level stores on Calder for their benches and tables.  The murals add a colorful vibe as well.

Couple’s milestones

If you plan to take any photos with your significant other, try places where you had your first date or shared some of your best memories.  Whether it is the creamery, a certain spot on campus, or even outside a particular shop, capture what matters to you both.

It’s your senior year and your last chance to capture your life as a student. Make it count so you when you look back years from now, you can say you were at the places that mattered to you the most.

Photo by Jessica Korch


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