Guys senior portrait session Portland, Oregon

I hear it from other photographers all the time “but the guys are so awkward”, “ugh, I am doing a senior session for a guy and I don’t know what to do with guys, how do I pose them?”

I once felt similar but then I let go of that idea in my head of the “perfect portrait” and remembered I am not doing this for my ideal image but instead, I LOVE shooting seniors because I love capturing their personalities. The session becomes so much easier if you know your client.

Before every senior session I send out a questionnaire with lots of questions to help me get to know a client. Favorite movie, what makes you laugh, what is your favorite sports team etc. I also do an in-person or phone consultation with each senior and this helps me figure out if they are shy or an extrovert. Do they like their photos taken or are they “doing it for their mom”? What type of locations are their favorite? I write things in my notebook and make sure I have things to talk to them about during the session and then …. Then I make the session about more than that “stand here, look this way, smile … click” because … that’s just awkward and if your client feels awkward, they will look awkward. Instead mine goes like this:

“Ok Theo, this is an awesome spot and your outfit colors are looking amazing in this light. Can you stand here and face your feet that way (camera goes up), yeah … good, now can you see that gum on the ground? (click, click), don’t step in the gum, those shoes are way to nice. Oh hey, walk toward me for a second and then talk to me about water polo (click, click click), good! Look at your Mom and tell her why you’re doing senior photos today (click, click - because they usually laugh”

I keep my clients busy and I NEVER stay in one spot more than a couple minutes. Guys have natural stances … how they stand, ask them to “stand like Theo ( whoever they are) and tell me what 5 year old Theo would do at this shoot … Ask him to lean in to that wall on his right side and look to the left and tell you about his girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend and what they do together.

It isn’t about posing at all actually, it’s about making them comfortable and looking like themselves because this is a time in their life they will look back and remember how they really were and not “how we posed them”.

Theo here was a great sport and knew he wanted “something different” from others at his school. Together we chose to go to the Pearl District in Portland and then up to the Pittock Mansion which was phenomenal. We walked and talked, we laughed and joked and all together the 3 hour session felt like 30 minutes … the lighting was perfect and our locations were rad!