Landing Great Prom Photos

January 18

6 min. to read

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Proms are a significant event in the lives of high schoolers, and having some well-prepared images can be a great memory of that evening. Here are some tips how to take the best prom pictures!

For many teenagers, prom night is one of the most important nights of high school, and a lot of time and care goes into getting ready for it. And while there will likely be plenty of selfies and phone shots of both the afternoon prep and the prom itself, having some solid, well-prepared images will make a big difference in years to come. Here are a few tips to help you get the best photos you can of this magical day.

The Basics

1. Shoot Outside

If you’re not used to taking portraits indoors, you’ll likely get better results outdoors and with natural light. Choose a nice, uncluttered background—ideally with some greenery. And since you’ll probably be taking them in the middle of the afternoon when lighting conditions might not be ideal, look for areas of shade or indirect sunlight. 

Landing Great Prom Photos Image12. Use a tripod 

Tripods ensure that you get the clearest, cleanest shot. They also allow you to take longer exposures without camera shake, something important if you end up taking the photos at night or indoors.

3. Use a Shallow Depth of Field

A shallow depth of field will allow you to have a nicely blurred background while keeping the kids in focus. Start off with f/5.6 (groups) or f/4 (individuals). If your lens can go shallower than that, stop down to f/2.8 if you can. (You can always take multiple shots with different apertures.) You can change the aperture by shooting inaperture priority mode or in manual.

Landing Great Prom Photos Image24. Know when to use flash (and when not to)

Flashes are tricky business, especially if you’re using the one on your camera. If you have an off-camera flash, then it can be super useful for creating fill light from a different angle. But if you don’t, the flash effect from your camera can look pretty chintzy. If you find yourself shooting in dim light, try ditching the flash and looking for the best source of available light and/or making sure you have a tripod with you so you can work with a longer exposure. This won’t give you fill light, but it will help illuminate the entire photo. You can also bump up the ISO.

The Details

5. Pose Basics

If you’re taking posed shots, make sure not to have the teens face the camera dead on—it can make your subjects appear larger than they are. 

Try this out instead: 

• start them out facing 90 degrees away from the camera

• then have them turn their upper body 45 degrees back towards the camera

• finish by having them turn their heads straight toward the camera

Also, you can avoid a double chin by making sure they move their head a bit forward (rather than back), elongating their neck.

Landing Great Prom Photos Image36. Ensure That Their Hands Look Natural

If your teens want to hold hands, make sure they just touch hands lightly and/or relax their hands. Interlocking fingers and tense hands can make fingers look funky and shrimp-like (as Pye Jirsa from the SRL Lounge describes it). Resting hands on top of one another also works.

Landing Great Prom Photos Image47. Make Sure to Catch Plenty of Candids

While posed photos show some polish, great candid photos can really bring back the memories. If you’re taking photos in a location you have to travel to, have your camera ready as the kids arrive. If you’re helping your teen dress, capture some of the moments of getting ready. Basically, have your camera ready at all times.

Landing Great Prom Photos Image58. There’s Magic in the Details

Don’t forget to capture the little details that make prom night so special. Anything your teen picked out for this night is fair game—jewelry, shoes, bow ties, etc. And don’t forget the corsage!

Landing Great Prom Photos Image69. Remember to Have Fun

Once you’re done with the posed photos, it’s time to relax and have fun. Find ways to capture your teens having a good time. 

Landing Great Prom Photos Image7Have any other tips for capturing prom night? Let us know!

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