humboldt county portrait photographer

How to Dress for Your Spring Senior Session

Throughout your four years of high school many pictures are taken, capturing fun filled moments you will remember for years to come.  Out of all the snapshots you will take and memories you will make, there’s one kodak moment that will stand out more than the rest, one that is so meaningful, it will last a lifetime.  Your senior portraits.

Senior portraits are treasured photos taken by a professional photographer, they capture the pure teenage innocence and freshness, as it’s poised on the brink of adulthood, ready to enter college or begin a career.  Because senior portraits capture such a precious moment in your life, you will want to knock this photo session out of the park! Here are some helpful tips on how to dress for your spring senior session!

Plan on bringing more than one outfit.

You should arrange to bring at least 3-4 outfits to your photo session in a variety of colors, not just your favorite hue.  When choosing which outfits you want to bring, include different styles, such as casual, semi-formal, formal or outdoors. By having a variety of styles this will give you an opportunity to get creative and allow your personality to shine through!

Professional photographers have a great eye for color and lighting, so don’t be afraid to bring an array of different hues.  Having a variety helps see what colors of your outfits stand out the most, depending on the location of your photo shoot. For example, if you are planning on having your photos taken in some of Humboldt County’s Redwood forests, wearing an outfit with a deep purple hue in contrast with some green redwood sorrel in the background can make for an exceptionally beautifully vibrant photo!

Remember to bring accessories for all of your outfits, from footwear to jewelry and hair accents.  Since several full-body images are also taken, make sure to check your socks and shoes! You will want the right shoes for the appropriate outfit and also want to make sure your socks match! You never know, that full body shot might end up being your absolute favorite pose.

Check your clothing prior to the photo shoot to make sure it isn’t spotted or faded, and be sure to transport your outfits (you can wear one when you arrive), on hangers to prevent unnecessary wrinkles.

Visual simplicity with your clothing is important.

It’s important to not bring outfits with words or designs, stripes or pictures, except possibly your school logo.  You want your face, eyes and true expression to be the focal point, not the words on your shirt.

Color is important.

Solid colors are highly recommended for most or all outfits of choice.  For outside pictures, think of spring and summer colors of sky blue, pale green, watermelon and dark peach to complement the outdoor setting.  Again, depending on the lighting and where your desired location is for your photo shoot, colors may vary.. Bringing a variety of different hues will help you and your photographer make the best selection of an outfit, for each destination location and photo op!

Help accentuate your best features with your clothing.

If you have a more slender build, spaghetti straps and short sleeves will accentuate that feature.  Turtleneck tops tend to look best on people with longer necks. If you have more of a round or square shaped face, square-neck tops will look great!  Thinner faces tend to look great with rounded-neck tops.

Be selective with the jewelry.

Try to avoid wearing attention-grabbing jewelry.  You want the photograph to accentuate your face, eyes and personality, not draw unwarranted attention to your jewelry.  Also, Jewelry can date a photograph very quickly. Classic jewelry pieces are best.

Apply natural makeup but with a little flare to it.

I know it can be tempting to get very “glam” when having pictures taken but this could very well make you look like a complete stranger in your senior portraits.   Be sure to apply some of your makeup as you normally look on a day-to-day basis. It’s important to keep “who you are” conveyed in your photos. Adding a little additional makeup to dress things up and compliment who you are, is also okay and can really tell the story of “who you are” to “who you are becoming”.  Just try to find the balance of keeping your true self in your photos.

Be comfortable and confident.

Last but not least, be comfortable and confident on the day of your shoot!  Your outfits should reflect who you are and your style. Don’t be afraid to be bold!  Feeling good about yourself is key to an amazing photo session! When we feel great about who we are, that is the energy that gets put out into the universe!  Positive, happy, confident, feel good energy gets portrayed in photographs through your smile, your body position and poses. Let your personality unfold and create snap-shots you will look back on and smile for a lifetime!


How to have a great Semi-Formal Experience!

Semi-formals are one of the special high-lights of the high school experience.  I remember all the chatter in the halls at school, all the talk and excitement everyone felt, girls talking about the latest dress styles, how they were going to do their hair & makeup and of course, who their date was going to be.  It’s a night full of fun, laughter, time spent with friends and of course, dancing! There are moments in high school you won’t forget, and a semi-formal dance, is one of them! Here are some important steps to take to help make this a night you simply won’t forget!


Plan your Appearance


It’s all about the dress.  Set a time and a date ahead of time with friends to go pick out the perfect dress.  It’s best to start looking a couple of months before your semi-formal. There are various styles and types of dresses you might want.  Be sure to choose something that you love and that you feel the most confident and comfortable in. You want to feel great in what you are wearing!


Find the perfect accessories to match.  It’s a great idea to choose accessories to go along with your dress, after you picked out the perfect one and the shoes to match!


Will it be a tuxedo or suit?  Tuxedos tend to be more on the formal side and traditionally worn at evening events.  A suit is more casual and is considered appropriate for both daytime and nighttime occasions.  If you know who you will be taking to the dance, you might want to check in with her and ask what color her dress is.  You can add a little color and flare to your outfit by adding a few colors to match her dress.


Hair do’s & dont’s.   Decide first who you want to have do your hair.  If you are going to create your own style and do it yourself, start thinking of how you would like to have it. Once you’ve decided on a hairstyle, buy any products or supplies needed (hair spray, clips, curlers etc.) ahead of time, and start practicing so you get your desired style dialed in!  If you want to have a hair stylist do your hair, be sure to book your appointment in advance to secure your spot. Don’t dye your hair right before the dance because you never know what could go wrong! It’s always best to dye your hair a couple of weeks before so you have time to fix any mistakes that might happen.


Decide how you want to do your makeup.  Look at makeup styles online that you like and buy the makeup you will need to perfectly execute the look you are going for.  Practice before the dance so you have it down on the day of. Be sure to only wear the amount of makeup you feel comfortable in.  It’s your choice if you want to go with a lot of makeup, a little or even none. The most important part is that you feel comfortable and beautiful on your night!

Get Ready with your Friends


A little get together.  What better to get ready for the big day then to be surrounded by your friends!  Spend the day talking, laughing and helping each other look your best! There’s nothing like being around positive energy and creating memories you won’t forget!


Dates to the Dance


Your date.  You don’t need a date for a formal dance, but if you want one start figuring out who you might want to take in advance.  If you don’t have a significant other, think about a friend you could ask to go with you as your date or who you think might ask you.  Choose someone who you think you will have fun with!


Going with a group.  Whether you go with just your friends or with a date, go to the dance in a group.  Plan your group a few weeks before the dance. Ask your friends, your date’s friends, and their dates if they want to go together.  It makes doing all of the pre-get together and after activities a lot more fun!


Take pictures


Decide where to take photos.  Once you have your formal group determined you can then decide where you want to take photos before the formal.  There are many different places in Humboldt county you can take some great photos: a backyard, an elegant staircase, a garden full of flowers, on a hilltop overlooking a valley, or along the bridge near the Benbow Historic Inn just to name a few.


What’s for dinner?


Plan where to have dinner.  Have dinner somewhere that everyone in your group likes before the dance.  The restaurant should be near where the dance will be held. Once you have all agreed on a place, make reservations ahead of time because the popular restaurants fill up quickly!


How are you getting to and from the dance?


Figure out your transportation.  There are many options for getting to formal, depending on your budget and what you are wanting.  Taking a limo is definitely a fancy stylish way to arrive to the dance, but may not always be in everyone’s budget.  You can always select a parent or two to drive!


Make a plan afterwards!


What to do after the dance is over.  What you do after the dance is entirely up to you.  Have an idea in mind of what you want to do. A group of your closest friends over for the night is a great way to end an evening!  You can stay up late reminisce about your favorite memories from the dance around a bonfire in the backyard!


In the blink of an eye you will be graduating and your high school years will be over before you know it.  Take moments like the semi-formal dance, and make memories you won’t forget!


Parent's Guide to make it through Senior Year

The time is here, the official countdown. Six months out, from a soon to be empty nest.  Your first thought and temptation is to spend the year in a sad state of mind, thinking about all of the “lasts” you will be experiencing.  The last first day of school, the last varsity game, the last prom picture or the last birthday at home (this one is the real heart stopper).  It’s easy to feel overwhelmingly sad at such a monumental moment of your life after all, you’ve been there from the start!  As emotional as this moment will be for all of you, I would like to pull you out of the rabbit hole that’s so easy to fall into and instead create a Parent’s Guide to making it through Senior Year, perhaps better known as a “bucket list”.  So here it is!

Hire a professional photographer.

Senior and family photos are two very important moments you want to capture, and you want them to turn out flawless.  Try for that one perfect set of family pictures or that one unique senior pose that captures the heart of who your son/daughter truly is.  I know it seems like the kids are all grown, that the need to document their gorgeous faces has lost its urgency as the transitions slow.  Wrong.  That just-finished-childhood-not-quite-adult look is fleeting.  Get someone who knows what they are doing to capture it. 

Failures - talk about them.

Open up and talk about your own failures and how you recovered from them.  Don’t be afraid to be honest and detailed.  We loom so large in our children’s lives as the people who once held superpowers.  Let them know how those powers often failed you as both an adult and a parent. This will be a conversation that sticks in their mind and that they will thank you for. 

Give a gift they won’t forget.

This moment, these last days, are worthy of a gift you both won’t forget.  Although jewelry and watches seem to be traditional choices for senior year, you can also expand on this and choose something unique and original.  Remember, beauty and meaning, not expense, are the key factors in this purchase. 

Share some of your secrets.

This is the time to disclose what they just might not know about you, things about your life that you glossed over, but now realize that they are old enough to understand.  You will be letting them know that things may not always be as they seem, and that they are now a trusted near-adult, worthy of sharing family secrets. 

Before they are gone, let them go.

Some parents keep their children on an insanely tight leash their senior year.  Monitoring their every move, making them check in constantly.  This behavior drives them crazy, also making them feel they are not worthy of your trust.  Once they are on the downhill slope of their senior year, and that college admission check off list is complete, go ahead and let them take a few victory laps!  Let them go out on a school night here and there or stay out a little later than normal.  They need a little taste of freedom after all, they earned it!

This is the time, for those painful talks.

This is the time to sit down and have the discussion, the one you will wish you had if, God forbid, anything was to ever go wrong.  I’m not talking about where your will is or how you would like to see your possessions disbursed.  I am speaking of the talk where you recognize that you are speaking to a near-adult and you tell them things like, why you love or loved their other parent (this goes for divorced parents also), what makes a good marriage, how shocking it was to find yourself a parent and yet how amazing, what kind of wife/mother husband/father you hope they will one day be.  Keep in mind this will feel sad, but while you are still in that day-to-day high school routine, take a moment to talk about the really big things in life. 

Grab them tight and hold them close.

This is the time to revive some of the things that slipped away from what was once, your everyday normal routine.  Go ahead and give them that morning hug, or kiss on the forehead that was, for years, a nightly routine when they were little.  Don’t be afraid to sit by their bed with a hand on theirs.  This is the moment when we clench them even tighter, hold them close enough to take our breath away, and then, we let them go…

Your child’s senior year is going to be filled with many “lasts” and it’s going to be one of the most difficult times of your life.  This will also be one of the most important teaching opportunities as a parent you will ever have.  Pull strength from within, stand up and face this hardship and make every single moment count.  No one ever said parenting was easy, but it sure is worth it!  You will never get these moments back, so make them count!

Cody's Benbow Inn Senior Session

I was so excited When Cassidy asked me to take Cody’s senior portraits. He was a student of mine when I was teaching PE at South Fork High School. He was always very respectful and polite, and was also an awesome three sport athlete. I love being able to reconnect with students and see where how they are doing and where life is taking them. Cody’s mom wanted to have his senior pictures taken at the Benbow Inn which I think was the perfect choice. We finished up the session at the South Fork High School Football Field with some football images.