Take the BEST Homecoming photos ever!

Here are some helpful tips that I have picked up over the years. And yes, most of the photos are from weddings.

But the principles and ideas are the same.

1. Choose lighting over location.

When it comes to real estate, we all know the drill. Location. Location. Location.

And when it comes to important photos, what do we stress about the most? Location. Location. Location. But the secret is, knowing how to work with natural light is SO MUCH more important than the location. (The photo below was taken on the side of a garage and the one above was taken in an old barn!).

For example, here are some photos that I have taken in backyards or at a local park. - nothing fancy, just greenery and beautiful lighting. When it comes to photos, we often stress about getting our subject in front of a field of flowers or under a gazebo. Or we drive all over town to get different backdrops. But the people in the photos are what truly matters. Let’s make them look their absolute best, no matter where they are!

SO, what can you look for? When photographing a group, the side of a building or under a large tree will help you get perfectly even lighting. Ideally, you would shoot the photos an hour before sunset, but that never works out with the times that dances usually start. Large areas of shade will be your best friend.

2. Make light work for you, not against you.

Nine times out of ten, I photograph with the sun behind my subject. About ten years ago, this backlighting would have led to a lot of silhouettes and horribly lit images. But now, our phones and cameras are advanced enough that shooting into the sun tends to work well. Plus, every photo app has the option to brighten your shadows. Keeping the sun behind your subject helps them stay more evenly lit, and can create some beautiful directional lighting behind your subject. If you don’t have a ton of shade available, this is a great option. And also helps avoid squinting and blinking.

3. Don’t stress too much about posing.

When do we look the least like our natural selves? When we are posing. And no one hates posing more than teenagers! (And no one hates photos more than teenage boys). Go easy on them. This is their day, they are crazy nervous, and this is supposed to be fun. Here are some examples of easy, natural poses that don’t require a lot of effort. 

  • Look at eachother and laugh.
  • Hands in your pockets.
  • The classic “prom picture, where couples stand mirrored toward eachother, and places their hand on the chest or arm of the other person. (See photo below).

And I highly recommend getting individual photos before the rest of the group arrives. Would you want all of your coworkers watching you get your headshot taken? Probably not. We are all more self-conscious when there are more eyes on us.

4. Working with the group.

Just like laundry, when working with a group, keep your clothing colors separate. Try to keep any similar colored dresses apart. Pink and red don’t need to be next to each other, and neither do patterns. For suits and tuxes, keeping black and navy apart can be helpful, if possible. The trickiest part of photographing a large group is getting everyone to look at the camera and smile at the same time. I recommend taking twice the amount of images that you normally would. Just to be sure. And don’t forget to keep shooting in between the more staged shots to get candid laughs and more genuine smiles. That’s how to make candids TRULY candid.

5. But what if it rains?

There are probably worse things than rain on the day of homecoming, but not for a 17-year-old. Try to work with what you’ve got and not to stress. There are two unexpected places that may work in a pinch. Covered porches have AMAZING lighting. Have your subjects stand with their back to the building/house, and face out. This directional lighting will keep everyone evenly lit (and hopefully dry.) In this case, the photographer will be in the rain, so find someone to be your umbrella holder! And shockingly, garages have great light. Turn off the interior lights and open the garage door. Boom. You’ve got yourself some almost perfect studio lighting. And don’t worry about the bicycles and Christmas decorations in the background. Those can likely be blurred out.

6. Please, please, please promise me… you will not use your flash.

Flash photography is hard. Like really hard. In fact, I still struggle with it at times, and I am ten years in. Unless it is way too dark and there is no more natural light available, keep your flash off. Turn off any overhead lighting in your home. Work with window light, work with natural light outside, and keep everything else turned off. The photos will be so much easier to edit or color correct if there is only one lightsource.

And if you do break your promise, and you do use your flash or warm-toned interior lighting that makes the photos look orange or yellow, turn the picture to black and white. That’s the easiest way to take a not-so-great image and make it a showstopper. 

7. Hire a pro and split the cost!

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Spend the night living in the moment. Chat with other parents. Make yourself available for lipstick touch-ups and pinning cosages. And most importanlty - GET IN THE DAMN PICTURE. These are moments you will want to remember. Hop in a couple of the photos. Though this is an additional expense, splitting the cost with other parents can make it SO affordable!

Hiring a pro will also help you manage getting all of the photos to the other parents, and take some stress off your shoulders. Do I have you convinced? Well, I might be available! Book your homecoming session now!

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