5 Steps to Perfect Homecoming Photos

With homecoming season upon us, consider these tips to take full advantage of all the photo opportunities.

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Step 1) CHOOSE A CLEAN BACKGROUND

If possible, choose an outdoor setting with some greenery—trees, bushes, anything with green or flowers. Place the subjects several feet in front of the background. No one looks good in a tux with a full garbage can behind them or an advertisement-littered telephone pole growing out of their head.

Pick a spot where there is a relatively "clean" background or at least one that fits in with the idea of prom. Look around your home and yard and to find the least distracting option.

Here are a few ideas:

  • A few feet in front of a shrub wall (it blurs to make a nice green background).

  • In front of the limo.

  • On a staircase.

  • In front of a blank wall.

If indoors, take a couple minutes to select a posing spot and clear any clutter out of the background.

Try to avoid direct sunlight. If you have no choice, place the sun behind your subject and off to one side and force the flash to fire. That will create a highlight on their hair, but you’ll have to balance the lighting with some front light from flash or reflectors.

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Step 2) FIND (or create) THE BEST LIGHT

Good lighting will make the biggest difference in your homecoming photos.

  • Find a spot where the light is relatively bright but no one will be squinting (a shady area outside can work well).

  • Check your camera menu for a feature called something similar to "force flash", "flash always on", or "fill flash" to activate the flash even though the camera thinks there is enough light.

  • Tape a small piece of wax paper over the flash to diffuse it. This softer fill flash will create a pleasant light on the teens' faces even when in they're in the shade.

Play around with your camera and flash the night before so you know exactly how it's going to work. Teens will become very impatient if you're fumbling around.

Step 3) WATCH FOR SQUINTING

Good lighting will make the biggest difference in your homecoming photos. It's best to take photos out of direct sun where you avoid squinting and shiny faces. Shadows thrown across faces at odd angles can take away from a great photo. If you notice harsh shadows, move to a different location.

  • If you diffuse your flash as mentioned above, you can combat most of those shadows.

  • Sometimes, it is even a simple matter of changing the angle of your subjects to minimize the shadow.

Step 4) STABILIZE THE CAMERA

If you have a tripod or monopod, use it. If not, set the camera on a stable object. The worst possible way to shoot is to hold your camera out in front of you with two hands. The camera will move and the image will be blurry. IF YOU HAVE TO HOLD YOUR CAMERA BY HAND, HOLD YOUR BREATH AND TUCK YOUR ELBOWS INTO YOUR SIDE TO SHOOT.

Step 5) HELP EVERYONE RELAX

Start by remembering to relax and have fun yourself! Then let the happy couple get close to each other in the photo. Cheeks touching or a hug adds a lot to a special occasion image.

Everyone is nervous and feels a bit awkward about being so dressed up and being with a crowd of kids and parents. Encourage the kids to loosen up and shoot some fun candids. Add the little sister or brother for a shot or two, or the family dog.

Once they've relaxed, ask them for "one last shot" and casually get them closer. They'll look more relaxed in the photos if they don't feel too posed.

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