Amador Valley High School senior Luke was fun for me to shoot because we are both swimmers. I'm pretty sure he came straight from the pool to take his pictures.
I'm glad we went with this location in San Ramon for his senior pictures because the smooth lines of the office building really complimented his suit.
The leading lines are great for cap & gown pictures too.
Since Luke will be swimming competitively in college, I told him not to have too much fun on their spring break trip to Florida (that's where most east coast colleges do their trip.) "We'll be in Puerto Rico!" he exclaimed. Even better!
He brought along the sunglasses for his letterman jacket shot. Perfection.
I wish you the best of luck at Providence, Luke!
My top reasons for booking a fall photoshoot in the Pleasanton, Dublin, Livermore, San Ramon & Danville areas.
1. Fall Colors brighten up your shots
If you want to maximize your chances of some gorgeous foliage, book a shoot in mid-November! This is especially beautiful if you like to wear neutral or warm colors.
2. Fall temperatures expand wardrobe options
If you'd like to wear a favorite long sleeved top or a pair of jeans to your shoot, fall is the time for you! Add a pair of booties and you have a cute look that won't leave you sweating the entire time (like a summer shoot would!)
3. But it's still not too cold for dresses
What I like about fall is how we have *options*. You can be comfortable in a dress and in jeans. It's just a great time of year in our little corner of the world!
4. Unlikely to need rescheduling
During the spring and summer, I often have to reschedule shoots due to rain and excessive heat, respectively. Fall shoots have a much lower chance of needing to reschedule. Which just makes everything so much easier!
Whether you are taking pictures of high school, college, or kindergarten graduation here's a terrific shot list to get you started along with some handy tips to help you nail each shot. Good luck!
The Standard Shot
First, nail the basic shot showcasing the cap, gown, and all the graduation swag. The key is to find a setting with a background that is NOT distracting. 🚫 Avoid lots of colors and lots of the people so the focus is on the graduate!
Bonus points if it is not in front of your garage. 🤡
Everyone takes the far away shots. But how about some close ups too? Bonus points ⭐️ for having your tassel charm facing the camera.
3. The devil 😈 is in the details! If you've never used an iron before, this is your sign that it's time to learn how to do this. Because the gowns and the sashes come pre-wrinkled for you. (Often, quite a bit.) So smooth everything out so your pictures won't have distracting wrinkle grid lines.
The jump shot is tricky.
First, if you are wearing heels decide if this is even worth attempting: if there's a chance you might not stick the landing, don't do this! Nobody wants to be on crutches at graduation!
Second, you can give this a shot while wearing your cap & gown. But check your camera to make sure you got it. Often the front of the gown pops up and obscures your face.
➡️ Pro Tip: If that happens, just take the gown off and do the jump with your cap.
The Glitter Blow
A glitter blow is super fun!
Now I'll let you in on a little secret: I don't use real glitter. It's an environmental nightmare. So this is all done in post.
But if you are going to do this please lay down a sheet or old blanket on the ground in front of you so it's easy to clean up afterwards.
➡️ Pro Tip: what you want to buy is metallic confetti, in the largest chunks possible. That will photograph the best.
The Cap Toss
The cap toss is a classic. There are two versions.
1. Throw the cap like a frisbee.
➡️ Pro Tip: Aim to hit your photographer in the chest.
For Photographers: Be careful if you are asking a senior to do this who happens to be a competative discus thrower! Maybe ask them to go gentle, or else you may find yourself startled and having your senior say, "Wait, was I not supposed to actually hit you?!?" 😜
2. Throw the cap straight into the air.
➡️ Pro Tip: have the flat part of the mortar board face the camera, and give it a very small toss, again, frisbee style but this time up instead of out.
Signs! Sometimes colleges send out these super cute signs when you get admitted. SAVE THESE! They often have your school's slogan on them and are great to include in your graduation pictures.
Pennants! If you didn't pick one up from the college bookstore when you went to tour, you can get one online. You're probably going to want to decorate your dorm room with one of these anyways, so get it early and get a shot with it!
College Tee/Sweatshirt! Same as with the pennant. You are going to get a LOT of use out of this, so get it early.
➡️Pro Tip: there will be several different design options to pick from: get one that has large, bold lettering in the center (or the mascot!). This shows up better in pictures than text that is small and/or off to the side.
I hope this helps you shoot a wonderful graduation portrait! And in case you were curious about the photoshoots featured in this post: I offer cap & gown shoots to all of my existing senior portrait clients.
There are so many aspects of your daughter's senior year that you don't get to be a part of. But her senior portrait isn't one of them!
Making it special
For this shoot celebrating how far she has come, why don't you both enjoy it together? Here are some ways for the two of you to get the most out of her senior photoshoot experience to build wonderful memories.
Shopping- 1 month+ beforehand
Whether you are working with a personal stylist or pulling together looks on your own, figuring out her outfits is a great way to bond with your senior.
When I was in high school, I used to love going shopping with my mom. We had a tradition of taking a "lunch" break for frozen yogurt (don't judge!) to rally before hitting up more shops. It was so nice to have that one-on-one time with her because my little brother didn't have any interest in clothes.
Now is also a good time to talk about meaningful jewelry. Do you have any family heirloom pieces that she could wear to her shoot? If you have been thinking about a special item to pass down, this photoshoot would be a wonderful occasion to capture your daughter in the new-to-her piece.
Spa Day- a few days beforehand
Getting ready for the shoot is one of the best parts! Why don't you both get pampered for the occasion?
Whether heading out or creating a spa day at home, the two of you can enjoy the little things.
Mani/Pedis are a great place to start. She's going to want to have nice looking nails for her shoot. But why don't you join her?
Mom mom started taking me out for mani/pedis in middle school. But getting mani/pedis with my mom is still one of my favorite things to do, all these years later. We always choose different colors, but it's fun to talk about all the options and sit around reading magazines.
If you are heading out to the spa, massages for both of you are a terrific idea.
But a Word of Caution! If your daughter is interested in a facial, now is not the time. It's possible that her skin might still be puffy or irritated a few days after a facial so it's best to leave that treatment for after the shoot.
Girls lunch- the day of!
Today's the day! Your daughter might be a little nervous about her photoshoot. Why not have the fun distraction of getting lunch from your favorite cafe? Whether it's dine-in or take out, lunch or brunch, having a meal from a place you both love is just one more way to make the day special.
At the Shoot!
We will be working together to make your daughter look and feel her best at the shoot and you play a pivotal role!
Also, I often save the dressiest look to shoot last. Which means that at the end of her shoot your daughter will look her most fabulous. And since we end close to sunset, now it's time for dinner.
Post-Shoot Dinner Date
Why not call in a reservation or take-out at one of your favorite restaurants? Cap the day with a terrific meal over which you both can tell your whole family about how much fun you two had at the shoot.
I want this entire experience to be wonderful for both you and your senior. Hopefully you two can enjoy one or all of these bonding opportunities together surrounding her senior portrait photoshoot.
Samantha Grant Photography is a boutique studio in Pleasanton, CA specializing in high school senior, teen & tween portraiture.
To find out more about the photoshoot experience with Samantha Grant Photography click the button below!
If it's not soft, cute, or smells good I don't want it! Here are some of my top picks for excellent holiday presents this season. Look out for some local vendors!
I can't speak to being soft or smelling good, but we'll definitely take cute pictures at any shoot! Get in touch to snag a gorgeous gift certificate, wrapped and ready to place under the tree. That special teen or tween in your life will have a big surprise in opening this goodie and then get to spend the rest of the holidays planning what to wear on their big day. What a special treat!
They would tear this to shreds the moment I got up to get myself another cup of tea. But if you don't have that problem, go make someone in your life feel incredible with this. It comes in a bunch of colors.
The Farmer's Wife is based in Yuba City but the Raley's on Sunol sometimes carries their products. If you buy one as a present, you'll have to get another one for yourself. It's not a big tub, but a little goes a long way.
What I impressed me was how MINTY the chocolate mint cookies were. It wasn't subtle. And I really liked it.
My husband took one look at the greenish cookies and said, "I bet those are packed with food coloring" and you know what? They aren't! The green color comes from SPINACH. Never would have guessed.
Go support Dan at his storefront in Livermore or at the farmer's market. Comfort food at it's finest.
Local favorite, Jam Jar Posies makes floral displays that have that effortless airy look. She mixes fussy with wild; her bouquets are delightful.
Again, something I can't have because the cats attack flowers in vases as if they were silent burglars, hanging out patiently in the middle of the table.
Not that I wouldn't love one of these. But I'd need to put a cage over it, or something.
It says it holds 5lbs of candy. It could probably hold a heck of a lot of surgical masks mixed with cute little hand sanitizers. Crazy what we scramble for these days...
Heading over to the pumpkin patch to take some pictures? Here are some tips to help you get the best shots possible, even with just a phone.
1. Plan Your Pumpkin Patch Outfits
Even if it's 85 degrees out, you can still make it look like fall by wearing the right colors. Think about deep, rich tones. And if you wear white, go with a creamy off-white.
2. Pick a fall nail color
3. Shoot with your back to the sun
Shooting with your back to the sun will mean that you can get the bluest of blue skies and super bright orange pumpkins.
Yes, it does also mean that the people in the pictures will be looking directly into the sun. To help with that, do a "three, two, one" countdown with their eyes closed and have everyone open their eyes on "one."
One other thing to be aware of: your own shadow. If the sun is to your back, be careful that you aren't casting a shadow onto the people in the shot. The easiest way to avoid this is to get down low (either squat or sit down) when you are shooting.
4. Have fun!
Some of the best pumpkin patch shots are ones you won't think of until you arrive and see what there is to play with. But don't be afraid to get silly. Juggle some baby pumpkins, jump in the air. Skip down a lane of hay bales.
Look for motion and emotion. You got this! 🙌
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You've made it to senior year: congratulations! This is a big deal! You want to document it with gorgeous pictures and you deserve to work with the perfect photographer to get them.
For a lot of people this is the first time they have hired a professional photographer. It can be daunting. So I've put together a guide to help you figure it all out, know what questions to ask, and what to look out for (hint- some things here you would not have thought of.)
Tip 1. Ask About Artwork
Does your photographer offers archival quality artwork?
Yes, having your digitals is important, but you also want to check that your photographer offers incredible archival quality pieces of artwork like albums and canvas collections that you will enjoy forever.
I’m not talking about what you can get at Costco. You deserve an album with thick sturdy pages and ink that resists UV light so that the colors in your images won’t change or fade.
When you come in for your gallery reveal/ordering appointment you will get to touch and feel all of the heirloom quality artwork that I
Tip 2. Look for Consistency
Look at a lot of a photographer’s past work and ask yourself, “Do these pictures all look like they were shot by the same person?”
And if so, “Do I like the editing style?”
This is important because if you look at their work and some pictures have a completely different vibe, how are you going to know what you will get out of your session?
You want consistency!
I am known for a consistent look and feel for my photography. “I could tell it was one of your pictures even before I saw your name,” is one of the comments I get from clients time and again.
Tip 3. Hair & Makeup Guidance
Does your photographer give you guidance on hair and make-up? Or are you left to fend for yourself?
I provide all of my clients with a list of professional hair and makeup artists that I have worked with, who understand the look that I want: natural. I want you to look like you, just with the best skin day of your life.
No crazy contouring. No theatrical lashes. When people see your pictures, I want people to think you look terrific. I don’t want them
to even notice the makeup.
And to make sure that you look exactly the way you want, I also provide my clients with a “How to Work with Professional Make Up
and Hair Artist” guide. Because if you’ve only ever booked someone for a prom look, or never before, how are you supposed to know what to do?
This guide is full of tips and tricks to make sure you leave your appointment looking your absolute best and loving your look.
These are just a few things to look for, but they are super important. And there's more.
Download all 10 Tips for finding your perfect photographer
Want to know more? I created this free guide to help people like you find their perfect photographer! I will personally send you this guide to help you get started.
Samantha Grant Photography is a full service boutique studio in Pleasanton, CA specializing in teen, tween, and senior portraiture.
Running a small business is HARD. You quickly discover that you spend a small amount of time on the part that you love (the reason that you started the business in the first place!) and a ton of time on all this other stuff.
Paperwork, spreadsheets, marketing...
And when things aren't working it can be hard to figure out what to do. Which is why mentoring is so helpful.
When I mentor other photographers I like to hone in on one specific topic and do a deep dive to figure out exactly what is going on and how to improve it.
But before you even talk to a mentor- take a moment to diagnose the problem and figure out where you should focus your efforts.
The key here is finding solutions that are tailored specifically to your business. Not generic catch-all advice. Which is why attending conferences or online lectures on these particular topics probably won't help. You may get solid information on the direction of the change you need to make, but none of the details. And of course, the 😈 is in the details.
When I first started my business, paying for mentoring was the best investment dollars I spent. I seriously saved myself years of struggle by asking for help.
So when you are ready, don't be afraid to reach out.
Celebrating High School Graduation
Cap and Gown mini shoots are such a fun way to celebrate your up coming graduation! What better time to update your pictures and create some lovely artwork to put out at your grad party!
Getting Ready for your photoshoot
These shoot are available to any of my senior portrait clients. When you book your date I send out a special guide: "How to Rock Your Cap & Gown Mini" so that you are completely prepared to get all the important shots.
Class of 2020, set your senior portrait date today and we'll be shooting these for you next spring!
It's prom season! One of my favorite times of year. I love enjoying the excitement of prom vicariously through you all, but my favorite part of it is the dresses.
For the past several years I've been invited by Cal High in San Ramon to take part in their Formal Faire. This is a fashion show put on by the Cal High Leadership team showcasing gowns, tuxes, and some wonderful hair and makeup styling. Check out some of the gorgeous looks from the 2019 Formal Faire!
I am a teen, tween, and high school senior portrait photographer in the SF east bay area.