What to Wear for Senior Pictures During Your Grad Session


Your Grad Session Style & Session Guide

Senior student sitting on edge of building in suit looking off into the distance surrounded by  plants taken by GunnShot Photography

What to expect

Before the session, we’ll discuss your envision for your portrait session – location ideas, clothing ideas, hair and makeup looks, and everything in between so that you can feel super prepared on the day of your photo shoot.

Most people have never experienced a professional portrait session before so everybody feels a little nervous and awkward to start. You don’t know where to put your hands. That’s normal! Don’t worry – I’ll walk you through it and those jitters won’t last long!

My goal is to capture your style and personality, so the most important thing for you to do is just be yourself! Once we’re at our location I’ll look around to find spots with great lighting. I’ll show you where and how to stand, sit, or lean. Relax and have fun!

What to wear

The question I’m asked most often before a senior portrait session is “What should I wear for my photos?”

During the consultation, we’ll work together to coordinate outfits, locations and plan your dream photoshoot.

The most important thing is to be authentic. It is important to wear something that is comfortable to you, reflecting who you really are. If you never wear dresses in real life, maybe a dress isn’t the right way to go for this picture. Your clothing should reflect your personality! Depending on the length of the session, you might consider up to 3 outfits (casual, formal, and one that expresses your personality, favorite sport, or hobby). This gives you a nice range to choose from. Remember that we want to show who you are.

Additionally, there are times we will be laying down, sitting on the ground, leaning, walking, and maybe even dancing so you want to be comfortable!

Overwhelmed with colors? Pick a palette!

Start by picking a palette of 2-3 colors. Let this be your starting place. When putting together your palette, think in terms of tones: rusty reds, burnt oranges, mustard yellows, deep greens and blues, beige, cream, black, shades of gray, etc. These are all colors that you’d naturally find in the earth’s landscape and that will make any skin tone look amazing in photos. Also think about tones that you like, as well as colors that look great on you. You know what looks you best, so plan towards whatever makes you the most confident!


When planning your outfits, make sure that you have a variety of looks! Choose from these categories: casual, cozy, dressy, preppy or edgy. I always recommend choosing 2-3 of those categories and finding outfits accordingly. This provides a beautiful array of looks during your portrait session, so each outfit looks dramatically different!

Muted Colors

Skip the tiny prints and patterns because they do not show up in the photo. Also, if you have too many wild patterns or lots of text/imagery on your clothes, it’ll distract from your face. I like to recommend solids or simple patterns like subtle stripes and polka dots.


Layers are a great way to introduce some depth and variety to your outfits, as we can shoot the base outfit both with and without the added layer. I’m obsessed with when my seniors layer outfits with sweaters, jackets, and cute tank tops. Plus it adds so much dimension to your images and makes for super fun posing options!

FIT your style into your location

Always keep your session location in mind when choosing your outfit. Are you going to be on the beach where there are plenty of neutral tones or under a tree surrounded by bright fall foliage? Select a color palette for your outfits that will complement the setting. Pick out items of clothing in colors that will complement your background and not compete with it.


When planning your outfits, don’t forget to plan accessories. The right accessories allow for a variety of shots to be captured. Even if you go for a simple jeans and white t-shirt, you can add stacks of bangles, long necklaces, statement pieces, scarves, hats, bright shoes, and other add-ons that can make or break an outfit! Whatever you chose make sure the accessory coordinates with your outfits and adds a stylish, elegant touch.

Be Comfortable & True to Yourself

If there are pieces in your closet that make you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable, don’t include them in your session! Find clothing items that you can move around and sit comfortably in, we will most likely be sitting on the ground, laying down, walking, and doing other things that could be difficult if your clothing is uncomfortable! We want you to feel the most confident and comfortable in your outfit choices. Choose outfits that are timeless and classic. Trust me. You’ll look back at your portraits 20 years from now and still love them.

dress for the season

If you’re getting senior photos done in the fall, think of cozy sweaters and jackets. You want to be comfortable and not freezing because you are wearing a summer dress, so just plan accordingly. On that same token, it’ll look silly if you show up wearing snow boots in the middle of a flower field and green grass all around.


Don’t ignore what goes on your feet. Wear comfortable shoes, boots or go barefoot. Try to avoid heels. So bring options when it comes to shoes!

Plan your outfits in advanced

I always recommend you try on your outfit before the day. The more time you allow yourself to plan your outfits, the less stressed you’ll be.

Hair & Makeup

I highly recommend all of my clients to invest in professional hair and makeup. If it is in your budget, hiring a professional for your hair and makeup will make a drastic difference in the quality of your photos. Also, your nails are easy to overlook. Make sure they look nicely filed and clean; they will be shown in your photos. If you’re going to wear nail polish check for chips and repaint them before your session.

Be You

Be yourself. Don‘t stress. Whatever you choose, you’ll crush it. And I’m here to help you every step of the way.

Lastly, be sure to include an outfit that is unique to your style, hobbies, or personality.

This can include school uniforms, sports uniforms, and or an item that represents where you’re headed next. It’s so important to use the opportunity of being in front of a camera to capture not only your look, but your personality.

Girl wearing gray shirt brushing horse at ranch

before your session

Be sure all clothes are clean and pressed. Be sure you have any props ready that you want to be photographed with. This is also the time to be careful of your sun exposure. Sunburns and tan lines are often very difficult to edit after the session, so be sure to wear lots of sunscreen and limit your time in the sun.


If you want something natural and rustic, start brainstorming local parks and natural areas. If you want something a little more casual, maybe the beach or harbor would be a good fit. If you want something more modern and urban there are lots of downtown areas to check out. Since time of day and weather drastically affects lighting, and there may be other people we need to work around, it’s nice to have a location with several good features to choose from. The more variety we have to choose from in a small area, the easier and more fun your session will be! Your school is also a great location with interesting architecture, gardens and signage to commemorate your school.


Shooting at the best time of day is essential. The best time of day is called the Golden Hour and that’s about 2 hours before sunset. You will have a perfect golden light around you and it will warm everything in the lens. Another option is just after sunrise, not many people want this option but it is beautiful and it’s much cooler in the summer months. Keep this in mind when booking with us and taking into account that the best light only happens twice a day!

Your session day

It’s the day of your session! Pack up all of your outfits, shoes and accessories and meet at the designated meeting point. Make sure to eat (hungry subjects aren’t happy subjects) and drink lots of water. Depending on the type of session that you choose, we could be shooting together for a few hours through many outfit changes.

I will guide you through everything and show you poses and more. You don’t have to be nervous! It is my time to make sure you are having the best experience possible and capture you and your personality. This is where we have so much fun, laugh and get the best photos possible.

After your session

About two weeks after your session you will receive an email from me with your online gallery. It will contain all edited images for you to share, download and order prints right from my print lab. After you view your photos, I’d love if you could provide a review of our time together. Word of mouth and reviews truly help my business grow and allow amazing clients (like yourself!) to find me on Google. I greatly appreciate it!!

Frequently Asked Questions about your session

Can i bring someone to my session?

Feel free to bring a friend or a sibling. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone come along to make you laugh and schlep your gear. We love when you have someone along for the fun!

What should i bring to my session?

This session is about you, so bring anything that shows off your personality and interests. Props could include athletic uniforms and equipment, musical instruments or well-loved dance shoes. We want to make your pictures an expression of who you are right now, and these activities are part of your identity.

How do I pick a location?

I have an array of options as far as outdoor and urban locations, but if you have a specific place you’d love to have your grad session done, then I’m totally open to shooting wherever you’d like! I generally like to scout out new locations to check out lighting situations and backdrops so I’m ready on the day of the session.

What if it rains?

The week before your session, I’ll be watching the weather to make sure everything looks peachy. But if it looks like there’s going to be inclement weather the day of your session, I’ll reach out a few days in advance to start formulating a game plan. Typically, if the weather forecast calls for a 50% chance of rain or high winds our policy is to reschedule.

Should I get professional hair and makeup done?

I highly recommend it! It is not a must, by any means, but the impact that really well done hair and makeup has on your senior portraits is quite amazing! I have a few hair and makeup artists that I can recommend.

How long does it takes to get my photos?

I want you to have your images as soon as possible! Most galleries are delivered digitally within 2-4 weeks.

What if i need to reschedule my session?

Please let me know as soon as possible if you have a schedule conflict. I ask that you let me know at least one week before your session if you have a conflict. If you cancel on the morning of your session to play golf or go to the beach, you’ll forfeit your session fee.

I hope this guide has helped to answer a few of the basic and most frequent questions you may have. I want to make your session experience something you will look back fondly on for years and years to come. At the end of the day, though, the location you choose and the outfits you select won’t matter nearly as much as the memories you make. Your future memories are the most important thing to me and I want your session to be a time for you to just be yourself and enjoy it! If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me directly. I look forward to working with you!

Let’s capture your personality. Book your grad session!


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Meet Michelle


I specialize in inclusive wedding photography for all. I went from being engayged to being a Fresno Wedding Photographer when I couldn't find any photographers locally who held my same values.  

Fueled by equal parts coffee and passion,  I believe your story, your love, is beautiful and I can't wait to capture it in images you will treasure for years to come. I believe in real moments and genuine connection. In the kinds of images that remind you of the joy that can be found in the simplest of moments together. 

And I can't wait to get to know you!

I’m Michelle Gunn

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