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Focus on capturing the best glimpse of you

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Published Oct. 17, 2013

Raise your hand if you enjoy having your school photo taken.

We thought so.

Every year of your school career has likely involved standing in a long line in the cafeteria, waiting for the photographer (either stone-faced or really goofy like he was trying to make a baby giggle) to capture your worst smile or illuminate the blazing zit that appeared 20 minutes earlier.

For seniors, the task is a bit more daunting, as there is a lot more at stake. Not only is a page in the yearbook going to record you for eternity, but also your family is likely to fill every room of the house with different poses to mark your transition from high school life to LIFE.

You make an appointment at a professional studio, go there or sometimes to a location of your choice, and the adventure begins.

Chelsea Roach, 21, worked for the national photography company Lifetouch before moving to its senior portrait division, Prestige Portraits. The Spring Hill resident has seen a lot from behind the camera.

"Once I was at a kindergarten shooting pictures for the class when a small boy (flashed) the Bloods gang sign," she said. Taken aback, she quickly told him to put his hands down and asked him where he learned that. "He said his dad had taught him."

She also has a lot of experience putting teenagers at ease during their senior portrait sessions at Prestige's Largo studio, encouraging them to bring things with them for the photos that express who they are. Once a student brought a kayak to the studio, and another brought his drag racer. "He was so proud standing outside with his trophy and car," she said.

tb-two* asked Roach for some tips to help seniors enjoy their portrait sessions and their portraits, too. Though we're not sure about those poses with hands cupping faces or under chins (sure, maybe the hands draw attention to bone structure, but who actually sits that way, ever, in real life?), we think she offers some great advice.


1 Do come to the studio with makeup and props ready. Everyone is on a tight schedule, with no time to wait for you to do your makeup.

2 Do wear minimal, natural-looking makeup. Shades of gold look good on practically anyone, Roach said. If you are pale or fair-skinned, jewel tones such as purples, blacks, blues and greens look the best.

3 Do wear what you feel best in. If you normally wear jewelry, don't think you have to remove it for the picture. The photographer wants to capture the authentic you.

4 Do come in with a sweet, open-minded attitude. If you seem friendly, a photographer will be more willing to work with you, and may even take more pictures of you.

5 Do leave curly hair natural because the photo session may be long enough for straightened hair to begin to frizz and poof up.

6 Do tell the photographer your preferences, such as if you like one side of your face more than the other.

7 Do tilt your chin slightly down if you wear glasses — this will prevent glare.

8 Do dress in lighter colors if you have darker skin, to compliment your skin tone.

9 Do, if you're a girl, tilt your head toward the light. This gives your face a more feminine look. If you're a boy, tilt your head a bit away from the light, giving the portrait a more masculine look.

10 Do be willing to try those hand poses. Good on almost any girl: one hand cupping the side of your face and the other holding the arm a bit below the wrist, Roach said. For guys, the chin on fist looks good, as long as you don't let your face droop down. Your hands draw attention up to the bone structure of your face.

11 Do have good posture. You don't want to look slumped over.

12 Do follow the photographer's directions. They have a trained, artist's eye for this job.


1 Don't fake a smile. A smile that is not natural is so obvious, showing everyone how uncomfortable you were in the photo session.

2 Don't come in with a bad attitude. This will put the photographers and everyone else in a bad mood, and then you can't blame them if they try to get you out of there as fast as possible.

3 Don't over-do your makeup, unless you want to look like a drag queen in the portrait.

4 Don't bring dangerous items to the session. It is not okay for you to bring your favorite shotgun. (Yes, this has happened, Roach said.)

5 Don't, if you are a skinny person, turn completely to the side. You might all but disappear.

6 Don't, if you are a bigger person, turn full frontal toward the camera. Turn away from the camera instead, to make you appear thinner.