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Taking the best senior photos, how to utilize graduation pics for networking

Take senior photos that won't embarrass you later in life.
Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Senior pictures are the last hurrah. This is the last time that professional school photographs will be taken. College yearbooks aren't particularly popular, and some universities don't have them at all so the last year of high school is the last year to celebrate one's teenage memories. Picture time can be a fun session for a graduate while showcasing the best in their personality for business opportunities.

What kind of fashion choices should be made for senior pictures?

Hair fashion trends are fun, but senior photos can quickly look dated if the style is modern for the moment but looks old-fashioned the year after. Stick to classic hairstyles -- crew cuts, Caesar haircuts, bob haircuts and evenly straightened (or "naturally" wavy) hairstyles rarely if ever go out of style.

People who wear glasses often make the last-minute decision to ditch them. For someone who wears contact lenses on a regular basis, this is no problem. Pop them in and pose. However, for spectacle wearers who have nose pad marks on their faces, this will show. Be weary of this and try not to squint. Or, just keep the glasses on. Photographers are great about fixing any glares.

Anyone who has ever dyed hair knows that sometimes that color may look good on the box but is a disaster on a person's head. The same can happen with favorite colors. Bring a few outfits. If the photographer only has a few backgrounds and some clash with the outfit, the photographer will usually opt for a different background for that outfit. However, remember that student photographs are not model runway shots. The photographer may only have a limited supply on location that all students must use. So if a student is wearing red and the background is orange, this may be the right time to consider a new set of clothing.

One of the most effective ways to look awkward in pictures isn't just a matter of awkward posing. The outfits chosen are just as important. The most genuine smiles, confident eyes and poses happen when students feel comfortable in the clothes they want to wear. If Mom and Dad are paying for the photos, it may be more of a challenge to wear exactly what the student wants. But if the parents are a little more lenient or the graduate is willing to chip in for portrait expenses, outfit input may be an easier negotiation. Similar to hairstyle selections, pick a timeless outfit for each session. Students and parents can team up to share their style ideas.

How can these photographs be used for a student's benefit?

Senior year is fun, but it's also an opportunity to start thinking about a career, especially for those who choose college internships or to go directly into the workforce after graduating. Create ideas for a location picture, whether it's a photography background or physically in an outdoor or inside area, to use as the main headshot for a media kit, resume, social media business profile or the website of the graduate. This may be a good time to separate personal from private accounts to help boost employment opportunities. Talk to the photographer about the copyright rules for these photographs to see how much would need to be paid in order to use them for promotional purposes. Some photographers give full rights to students while others add on additional rates if using the graduation photography for something other than passing around to family members and friends. Identify the best and most modern photo from the assortment, and use that one on a consistent basis, even on business cards. The background needs to pop almost as much as hair, makeup and/or the outfit.

What kind of input does the student have with the photographs?

Look at the average person's Instagram, Facebook or Twitter accounts and viewers will see random people practicing their best pose. As vain as it may seem, this is a good time for students to do the same. Of course photographers hired by the school will have their classic "tilted head" posing suggestions or diagonal chair positions, but why not try out other pose ideas, too? Yes, the photographer may not be particularly thrilled with the student playing photographer, too, but as with a restaurant meal, if the customer is paying for it, then the best poses matter more than who suggested them. But don't go overboard. If a pose is awkward, doesn't look good in the lighting, or bypasses funny and goes straight to being silly, stick with the professional shot.

Enjoy the moment

As important as hair, makeup, clothing, shoes and a warm smile are, remember that the eyes matter even more. A look of fain is just as important as a wide grin or sophisticated straight face. Avoid frowning, scowling, looking bored or signs of aggravation. Remember that people will want to frame these photographs, not make excuses for them or timidly ask, "What happened?" Get six to eight hours of sleep to avoid baggy eyes. Iron clothing or get it cleaned. And remember the celebratory reason these photos were taken.

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