90 Minute Senior Session | How to Achieve Variety and Quality Portraits in Less Time

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

90 Minute Senior Session

If you’ve ever photographed a senior session, you know how much time and attention you need to give each one. After years of practice and honing my craft, I’m going to explain how I’ve streamlined my sessions. I now shoot efficiently without making the client feel rushed or sacrificing the quality work I demand of myself.

All of the images in this post were photographed in under 90 minutes at my Columbus portrait studio and neighboring outdoor location!

Stay tuned for my tips on how to streamline your own workflow, too!

High School Senior - Young lady in woods looking over shoulder into the camera

Meet Kayla

Kayla is a high school senior this year. If you’ve followed my work, she probably looks familiar. That’s because we’ve actually known each other for a few years, and she’s been the subject for a few of my projects.

Kayla is an advocate for social justice and women’s equality. She’s an artist, a reader, and an accomplished swimmer.

Kayla plans to forge her own path after graduation by studying Social Justice and Documentary Film-making. I can’t wait to watch her journey unfold and see her leave her mark in the world.

Indoor and Outdoor Senior Session - Kayla, Senior 2021 Columbus, Ohio

A Common Misconception

Even though Kayla and I have worked together on portrait projects in the past, she still arrived for her senior session a bit nervous, especially about posing herself. I’ve found this to be a common anxiety that many clients have, even the clients who have joined me for portraits multiple times. They all feel like they need to pose themselves.

Kayla said, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” I helped her get over the initial jitters by reminding her, “You know me, Kayla! I got you! It’s my job to guide, pose, and have you looking your best. We always end up creating beautiful portraits together!”

After this gentle reminder of how amazing she’d done in past sessions, everything flowed naturally.

Lewis Center Outdoor Senior Session - Young Woman in Woods

What a 90 Minute Session Workflow Looks Like

We began Kayla’s senior session in my studio, located just outside of Columbus, Ohio. I like to start with indoor studio work first. It helps us get comfortable working together without dealing with the outdoor elements. Studio work also lays the foundation for posing flows (more on that later).

We moved through a few outfit changes and included some images of her in her school's swimsuit. She’s been a competitive swimmer since she was eight-years-old. She brought her swimsuit along but didn’t think she wanted to be photographed in it. Her mom and I both said, “We get it. What teenager wants to sit in front of a camera in her swimsuit? But you’ll want these memories years from now.” And she agreed.

Once we completed work in the studio, we went to a spot right outside my studio. It has perfect light as well as tons of trees and paths. It’s convenient, beautiful, and private.

Within 90 minutes we were able to get many different looks! Indoor, outdoor, casual, dressy, soft, and dramatic. Learning how to shoot quickly and efficiently doesn’t mean your clients have to feel rushed, and it certainly doesn’t mean the work you create is of less quality.

2021 Senior Photography In Studio - Competitive Swimmer


I’ve learned to implement these steps over my years in the photography business. I've been able to streamline my workflow during the sessions and in post-production!

Pro Tip 1: Lead with small talk

I’ve learned that a little “small talk” before shooting can really put the client at ease. It helps build trust and connection before having a camera out.

Whether it’s the first or fifth time meeting with a client, leading with small talk lays the foundation for a great shoot together.

Pro Tip 2: Wardrobe recommendations

Unless it’s a family shoot (wardrobe changes with little kids? Any parent knows that's a nightmare...), I always tell my clients to bring several changes of clothes. More importantly, I ask clients to bring clothes they feel comfortable in.

When you feel more comfortable, you'll feel more confident! And when you're wearing your favorite clothes, it shows.