Senior photographer Tracy Moore shares how she delivers more than pretty pictures. She’s changing lives with adventurous sessions and authentic community.
Beyond Posing: Tracy Moore’s Senior Portrait Business for Adventurous Girls
“I’ve always loved working with girls, and I had this dream job in my head…” says senior girls photographer Tracy Moore from her studio in Billings, Montana. “So, what I did with my senior portrait business was to incorporate adventure and confidence-boosting.”
Every person’s life is rich with milestones worth recording: special birthdays, family events, holidays… And when graduating seniors take the step from childhood into full-blown adulthood, that’s an occasion worth marking!
Senior pictures don’t have to be formal studio experiences, though. Tracy believed these senior portraits could be an exciting, adventurous experience. That’s how Tracy’s Tribe was born.
A Tribe for Every Senior Girl
“I created this program that I run every year for senior girls where we have destination shoots,” Tracy explains. In fact, she’s brought a whole new level of awesome to locations for senior portrait sessions!
“We just choose places that we want to go to every year” she shares. “So, we’re like, okay, let’s visit Glacier and Thermopolis, Wyoming, or Big Sky, Chico, Yellowstone.” (Can you imagine how your seniors would feel having their pictures taken in such remarkable places?)
“We’ll book a weekend or a week or two weeks, then we invite our Tracy’s Tribe seniors, and we do their full shoot in a cool spot,” says Tracy.
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Under Cover Ideas
Senior portrait locations don’t have to be outdoors. Be ready to suggest some awesome indoor or under-cover location ideas if the weather isn’t cooperating!
Great Destinations = Great Senior Portrait Experiences
Outdoor locations offer tons of scope for different styles and picture ideas when it comes to senior portrait shoots. Maybe your senior girls have selected a favourite spot to have their pictures taken. Include that location in their session, and it will add a lot of meaning to their pictures when they view them later.
Get Going: International Style
Tracy has taken things even further, though, by planning an annual international trip with her Tracy’s Tribe of girls.
“Last year, we started doing an international trip for these girls because I really thought about, ‘What helped me be more confident in my life?’ And it was my first international trip solo without my parents or family,” Tracy says. “So, I asked the girls and their parents if they would want to do an international trip and go somewhere, just, crazy, and learn how other people live and get that little spark of travel in them and make them figure out hard things on their own.”
Instill Confidence with Senior Photography
Giving the girls their independence is super important to Tracy. While it’s always lovely to have Mom involved if she and her daughter are close, Tracy acknowledges that sometimes the senior girls need to step away from their parents.
“The parents can’t come [on the trip],” says Tracy. “It’s not even an option. I realized that the girls who didn’t have their parents definitely took away a little more independence and confidence from the trip.”
Though these Tracy’s Tribe trips may not include parents, the seniors are not without guidance. Tracy always wanted to be like a big sister to girls who needed someone. “I had three brothers, so I never got that sisterly aspect,” she admits. “But I know it was needed. I needed it.”
Tracy’s big sister influence on her senior girls is evident as they trust her to make pictures that will make them look and feel amazing.
The Best Poses Begin with Connection
Portrait shoots of every kind are ultimately about connection. If you, as a senior portrait photographer, cannot find connection with your subjects, that will show through in your pictures, no matter how you edit them.
Creating that connection with your senior girls will allow them to trust you and be confident with and around you. Those things are guaranteed to ensure the most amazing senior pictures.
Tracy’s prioritizes genuine connection with her senior girls, saying, “I just want to show them adventure and love of life and give them really fun pictures and be there if they need someone to talk to.” Not every senior leans into Tracy’s offer of support, but that safe space is there – outside of their friends and family – should they ever need it.
Senior Photography: It’s All About Teamwork
Tracy believes that a senior portrait shoot shouldn’t just be about the clients turning up and you telling them what to do and how to stand. No independent senior would tolerate that for long! The shoot, from planning to delivery, should be a collaboration.
What this means is you should be totally open to any senior picture poses your girls might have. Whether it’s trying a certain pose or experimenting with a particular location or look: go with it. Work with them, and suggest ways their ideas might work even better. And if an idea doesn’t work, that’s totally ok! Relay that to your senior photos client, then make sure you give them plenty of other great shots that do work.
Involve the Parents in Senior Photography Planning
Don’t forget about your senior’s parents, too! These portrait sessions are as much for them as for their daughters. So involve them. Ask them if they have any particular picture ideas in mind.
Do check with your seniors to find out if they want their parent to come along on their photo shoot, then talk it through with Mom or Dad, too. It’ll help to reassure them that you’re respectful of their wishes as much as those of their senior.
Tracy remains deeply conscious of the mother and daughter relationship, in particular. She believes strongly that moms, when possible, should be involved in this milestone in their daughters’ lives.
“These moms want good things for their daughters, and they want somebody to help walk with them through these tough times in their lives. And they want them to be a part of something positive, to get involved with charities or have a group of girls around who are going through the same things – girls they can be friends [with].”
Easy Poses to Empower the Girls of the Future
Nerves can be a real issue at the start of a senior portrait shoot. Girls may lack confidence in front of the camera – at least at first. A great ideas that addresses photo anxiety is to have them sit down for those first few shots. People are typically more comfortable when seated. There’s no pressure to strike a pose, and sitting helps to remove that “what do I do with my hands?” question!
Starter Poses: Sitting to Standing
Get your first few shots, then show them to your client, letting her see exactly how incredible she looks. There’s nothing like seeing a senior’s confidence grow! You’ll notice the change as she sits up straighter and appears more confident in each of her senior picture poses.
This is how you’ll know the moment is right to get her standing. Before you know it, she’ll be striking that power pose (think photos of Beyoncé and a wind machine!) – and it’s a great moment, knowing you’ve helped to empower a young woman.
Angles are the New Black
There’s no better feeling than hearing from a girl that they love their senior photography and that you’ve made them look amazing. But there’s also joy in knowing that it’s not magic or Photoshop that made them look that way. Sure, a good kit, solid skills, and technical knowledge are factors. But when it comes to making your senior girls look gorgeous in their senior pictures, we all know: it’s about the angles.
- against a wall or a tree
- toward you or away
- full-on model strut, leaning back on one leg
These easy photo poses result in great pictures of any senior girl!
Front to Back Poses
Remember: getting the shot can involve a full 360 degrees! You shouldn’t only be capturing pictures from the front. Have your senior girl turn away from you and look back over her shoulder. Or get up high and photograph her from above for some unique angles and perspectives.
Arms and Legs
The general idea is, “if it bends, bend it”. Create angles with elbows and knees, and direct your client to form angular gaps between the girl’s limbs and her torso. This is instantly more flattering.
Also, be mindful of where you crop your images when cropping into limbs, and try not to crop at a joint, such as the wrist or knee. Certain photo crops are more flattering than others!
Get Real Smiles and Genuine Laughter
Humans are uniquely skilled in telling a genuine smile from a fake one. Therefore, getting real smiles and laughter into your senior portraits is key to creating beautiful pictures they’ll love.
Ideas to Help You Connect Authentically
Making a connection with your seniors will help. Ask them questions, talk to them one-to-one, and express interest in what they’re saying. This will go so far to encourage natural expressions in their senior photography.
One of our favorite senior picture ideas for girls is to get your client to fake a laugh. Doing that usually inspires a real laugh – because fake laughing is pretty funny!
Also, shoot through a moment. You might find that the smiles are forced initially, but, as they relax, the real smiles will break through. Keep shooting. You’ll see it happen!
Offer Endless Encouragement
Give lots of positive feedback while working with seniors. Check out the back of your camera, and get excited about the pictures you’re capturing. Let them know how amazing they look, and show them what you’re seeing. The idea is to help to build confidence, because confidence = happy, glowing smiles all-around.
Action for Distraction!
Sorry, we were imagining ourselves as cheerleaders for a moment there… But prompting action and movement during senior portrait sessions is a great idea for getting some awesome pictures!
Don’t think of senior photo posing as nothing more than hand placement or facial expression. Simple movements like walking, running (if their outfits allow), jumping, spinning around, and dancing are fun and make interesting, unique pictures. You can also use the environment to inspire senior picture poses. Get them splashing in water, walking through fields, smelling, picking, or playing with flowers…. If there’s a swing, get them on it!
Some clients may ask about bringing a pet to their senior photo shoot. Pets can encourage great action shots! Walking with them, playing and cuddling with them – all are great senior picture ideas!
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Get Pet-Friendly
It’s worth having another family member join you for the senior pictures if a pet comes along. That way they can care for the animal while you get some shots of the girl on her own.
Inspiring Images, Inspiring Lives
It’s clear from talking to Tracy that what she does for her senior girls goes far beyond simple senior photography. Tracy’s Tribe has blossomed into an opportunity to give back! Tracy’s Closet is the charity arm of Tracy’s Tribe, and since 2018, their clothing closet has provided clothing to girls throughout the Billings community.
Clothes that Build Confidence
Today, Tracy’s Closet helps girls find stylish clothes – not just for senior portraits, but also to help them feel confident in their everyday lives. “It started when I held a ‘Do Good Contest,’ where Tracy’s Tribe girls had to go do good deeds all over the place,” she explains. After rewarding the do-gooders with trips to California and Vegas, she realised, “This has nothing to do with my senior photography business anymore. We just need to open this up for senior girls to boost their confidence.”
The Tribe approached Tracy about a friend who couldn’t afford to have senior pictures taken because she had nothing to wear, and Tracy immediately knew she had to expand her reach beyond providing simple senior photography. “I was like, ‘Okay, well, we have access to so many girls with so many good clothes; I’m sure they could put a bunch of cool stuff together for her.’”
Tracy and her Tribe put out the word, and they were blown away by the response. Now, Tracy has a dedicated “shop” where she displays clothing that girls in need can choose from – for senior pictures or simply wearing to school.
A Place to for Senior Girls to Connect
And as Tracy’s Closet grew, her senior photography studio also evolved. “The whole second story of my studio is now a hangout area for teen girls,” she says. “We have a big co-working desk and a living room area and a snack bar and all kinds of cool stuff.” The space is open after school hours for girls to hang out, maybe to chat or get some homework done – all in a space where they can thrive.
Building Up the Women of Tomorrow
And, ultimately, that’s the takeaway. As Tracy points out, teenage girls are the soon-to-be adults of our future.
“We can all relate, and we all remember how hard high school was, and how horrible it feels sometimes to feel like you don’t fit in and to not have that confidence,” acknowledges Tracy.
Senior portraits for girls are as much about building up their confidence as they are about getting beautiful pictures for Mom. And if you shoot senior photography, you have the chance to be that confidence booster – and change a girl’s life forever.
As a girl who loves both words and photographs, Sarah Wayte couldn’t decide between the two, so she does BOTH! Creative copywriter + branding and lifestyle photographer, the Maltese-Brit now calls B.C. her home (indecisive much?), along with her husband and their fur-babies. Say hi to her on Instagram HERE.