This past weekend was my daughter’s Junior Prom. She went with a group of girlfriends and asked me to take photographs of everyone before the big event. I, of course, was super excited to do so….it’s not every day that she actually asks me to take her picture. 🙂
Unfortunately, the weather was cold and rainy. The girls really wanted to have their photos taken outdoors which left us with limited choices on where to go. We ended up at Sanborn Park in Saratoga because there is a covered structure near a Redwood grove. This spot provided us with a woodsy, outdoor feel with protection from the rain. Despite the inclement weather, we captured a bunch of great shots (in between breaks to warm up and put on jackets).
Since Prom season has officially started, I thought I’d provide you with a few tips for capturing beautiful photos outdoors….
1. Find a Location with Even Shade
One of the key elements of photography of any kind is light and most likely when it comes to prom photos you’ll be taking them in the middle of the afternoon when lighting conditions might not be ideal. To avoid harsh sun or dappled light it is best to find a spot that offers even shade. Look for shade from large trees, sides of buildings or walls. If you don’t have any shade options available, turn your subject’s back to the sun to avoid squinting eyes and shadows on faces. If you are fortunate enough to find a shady spot, have your subjects face the sun to light them evenly (because they are shaded they won’t squint). And if it is raining and you still want outdoor photos, scout out a location that has some type of overhead covering that is open on the sides and provides visual interest like Vasona Park or Sanborn Park.
2. Strike a Pose
I took a few photos of my daughter and her friends where they posed naturally on their own (see the photo above)…it is the typical hands on hip gathered together type of stance. Those shots are always nice but to mix it up and add a bit of interest, I also did a few shots of them where I staggered their stance a bit as well as one where I had them in an alternating sitting/standing position. Doing so added a bit of visual interest and looks a little more unique. Also be sure to increase you aperture in order to have everyone in focus. For these group photos, I set my aperture to 4.0. If you have everyone on the same plane you can shoot a little wider. I probably could have done so but decided to play it safe with the 4.0 setting.
3. Mix It Up
Whether photographing couples or a group of friends be sure to get various combinations of the group. We did multiple pairings so each girl had a photo of themselves with each friend.
4. Be Sure to Get Individual Portraits & Full Length Photos
Prom is a great time to get a lovely individual portrait style photo. Remember to open the aperture so that you blur the background. I was shooting at 2.8 for the individual photos and a little higher for the full length photos (you can see how the rain was pouring in the background in the first photo below of my daughter). I also made sure I captured a full length shot because the dresses were all so beautiful. A few posing tips for individual photos are to have the girls give you a slight twist and to put their weight on their back foot. I also like to suggest kicking out a foot to the side to make them look less rigid. And while the hands on hips is a typical default thing to do with your hands, another nice option is to ask the girl to lightly grab her wrist and relax her hands.
5. Capture Candid Moments
Posed photos are great but equally important are those candid moments in between. I love the candid moments that showcase all the fun the girls were having (despite the cold and rain).
6. Relax & Have Fun!
My daughter and her friends were up for goofing around and having some fun. I brought along props (who can resist mustaches and lips?) and they were game for some jump shots too. These were the interactions that really brought about natural smiles and showcased what a great group of friends they are. Remember, even if it is pouring rain and freezing cold outside the thing to keep in mind is to make the best of the situation. It’s not about having perfect photo conditions, it is about the friendships and the joy of being together and capturing memories that they will treasure for years to come.