Tips for Choosing the Perfect Location for Your Senior Portraits

Senior girl with gorgeous backlight posing idea

10 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Location for Your Senior Portraits

There are so many decisions to make when it comes to your senior portrait session and the number one question always seems to be -how to choose the perfect location. Finding the perfect location is of course subjective and really is all about what’s perfect for you. So without further ado – here are 10 tips for choosing the perfect location for your senior portraits.

1. Who are you and what do you want your senior portraits to say about you? Are you artsy? A fashionista? A country girl? A free spirit? A hipster? An outdoorsy casual girl? A sleek city girl? A sports fanatic? A water lover?

Jot down all the things you love and a short description of yourself. From there we can pull location ideas that will help tell the story of who you are and what you’re trying to say about yourself in your photos. Your senior photos are about you and should help to showcase your personality and personal style.

Tally had a very clear vision of what she wanted….an abandoned barn/building and a retro look. When she showed me this location I knew it was perfect for her style and her vision!

Senior girl portrait session in abandoned barn

Senior girl urban portrait session with off camera flash

Senior girl portrait session downtown Richmond canal walk

Ricmond senior portrait session at sunset in country

2. How do you want your senior portraits to look like and ultimately feel?  This ties into question #1 but really is all about the feeling you’ll get looking at your images. Do you want a light and airy feeling? Do you want more of a glamour look? Are you absolutely in love with the country and want tall grass and a casual feel? Are you a free spirit and want your images to have that free feeling and be a bit more candid in nature? Look at the images below and think how each makes you feel different.

senior portrait session downtown richmond canal walk

senior girl portrait session at Amber Grove in Richmond Va with weeping willow

3. Find a location that has a variety of features and spots for portraits. We want to be able to get a variety of photos from your location so choosing a location that has many different features is key. If you’re choosing a country location then look for one with tall grass, a barn, a fence, trees, a swing, etc. If you’re choosing a park location then look for one with flowers, a rock wall, a view of the city, perhaps water access, etc.

All of these images are from Libby Hill Park. A variety of images and backgrounds in one area really gives you options in your final images.

Richmond senior portrait session at Libby Hill Park

These images are from Old Town Fredericksburg.

Senior girl portrait session Old Town Fredericksburg posing ideas

4. Gorgeous light always wins over a pretty background. Pretty light ultimately makes your portraits amazing! If you have a pretty background but insufficient light, too much of the wrong kind of light, or spotty light then sadly your senior portraits will not be awesome. Light is the guiding factor in every place that I choose for portraits.

Keeping this is mind the time of day will always dictate where we go and how we choose our locations. If you want gorgeous sunset pictures while standing in the river then we have to be at the river at sunset! This also means that we can’t be on top of my favorite rooftop location overlooking Richmond at sunset at the same time. So you will have to choose your priorities when choosing locations and look and feel of your images too.

When looking for locations we need to have shade available to us. Taking images out in the glaring sunlight will yield you less than flattering results…shade is often our best friend especially during the harshest afternoon light. Having a location that gives us plenty of shade options is super important.

Amazing backlight senior girl portrait session with orange leaves

Senior girl portrait wearing purple hat posing idea

Senior girl in river at sunset portrait session

Gorgeous light senior girl urban portrait session Richmond, VA on top of parking garage

5. Are there photography restrictions for the location you have in mind? Many commercial locations have restrictions regarding photography sessions. Often there is a permit that needs to be acquired and a fee that needs to be paid. These can range from $25 up to several hundred dollars depending on the location. Keep in mind that permits can take weeks to be approved and are often very limiting in the time we can be at that location taking pictures.

Savannah wanted to have her senior portrait session at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna. We had to file for the appropriate permit and pay the fee.

Senior girl portrait session with tall weeds and backlight

6. What will you be wearing for your portraits?  I know this one sounds a little silly and you’re thinking why should you have to worry about what to wear while you’re thinking about location. Quite honestly your clothing choices can help to make or break a location being perfect. Your wardrobe choice needs to match the feel of the location you choose and also have color harmony.

If you’re the fashionista type and want to wear a fabulous sparkly gown then choosing a location that matches that look is key to the portrait’s success. If you want to wear a blue shirt then the background complimenting the blue and helping it to pop is equally as important.

Goochland High school Senior girl with blue eyes and blue shirt Libby Hill Park Richmond, VA

Urban senior girl portrait session wearing plaid shirt and jeans Richmond, VA Canal Walk

Posing senior girl portrait session with pops of fall color

7. What don’t you want for your portraits? Often times this question is easier to answer than what you do want for some reason. If you know straight up that you hate the woods and trees and grass then we won’t even discuss park locations with green space. If you’ve seen one too many photos of senior girls in a barn then we will not look at barn locations. You get the idea here. Sometimes thinking of what you really don’t want helps lead you to what you really would like.

8. Choose a meaningful location. Choosing a location that means something to you can really come through in your portraits and help to create meaningful images. Does your family summer in the Outer Banks and you’ve spent countless summer days there? Then having your senior portrait session on the beach would be both beautiful and meaningful! Does your grandmother have property out in the country then perhaps having some of your portraits done on that property would be good choice.

One of my senior girls this year Ciera, chose Gari Melcher’s Belmont Estate as the location for her senior portraits. Her farther had grown up on the property and her grandparents were the caretakers for all the gardens and grounds. Having her senior portraits taken there was meaningful for her and her entire family.

Senior session at Belmont Fredericksburg, VA

Sarah wanted a few senior portraits on the Softball field since she has been playing softball her whole life and is going to play softball in college as well.

Senior girl softball portraits on softball field

Shelby wanted pictures with her horse Aero. We coordinated perfectly with the sunset for gorgeous of these two beauties.

Senior girl portrait session with horse at sunset goochland high school Richmond, va

9. Consider the crowds and timing when thinking of locations. Easiest put busy locations look busy! That’s great if the look you’re going for in your portraits is busy, hustle bustle, city life or if you don’t mind portraits with hundreds of your best friends. However if you’d like less people in the backgrounds of your photos or don’t want to have to wait for a lot of people to walk by then choosing a less busy location is important.

People always seem to love the cherry blossoms in DC. I mean they are gorgeous!! But cherry blossoms and the Tidal Basin in DC means thousands of people. So unless you’re willing to get up at 3am for sunrise portraits in DC in order to avoid the crowds then find a location with beautiful spring blossoms in a less busy place.

10. Think outside the box! Sit down and brainstorm awesome ideas. Take a look at Pinterest for some inspiration. Think of friends and family and people that you know that may have access to a location that isn’t accessible to everyone. Think awesome Private Residences, event venues, fields, wooded areas, rooftops, vacant lofts, skyscrapers, maybe an airplane hanger or a place with vintage cars. The sky is really the limit here.

I’m open to shooting most places we just need to be able to get there and have access. I am willing to travel to the beach or the bit city. I’m willing to climb fences and lay on the ground in the middle of streets to get that perfect shot.

I knew someone who knew someone who knew someone for this amazing rooftop image overlooking Richmond.

Senior girl wearing tulle skirt on rooftop overlooking Richmond, VA

I hope these tips for choosing the perfection location for your senior portraits helps you find the most amazing location for your pictures. This is something we will discuss during your pre-session consult at the studio. So come with ideas in mind!

Make sure to check out more of my senior portrait work over on the portfolio section of Amber Kay Seniors.

Email or call me with any questions and to schedule your Richmond senior portrait session today!  / 540-848-1812


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