“Photographing Seniors” – by guest contributor Renee Bowen

We are honored to have Renee Bowen on Rock The Shot today.  Renee has such stunning pictures and has taken the time to share how she does it!  Thank you Renee.  Enjoy this wonderful article on photographing seniors.

So excited about Rock The Shot!  I’m always looking for more ways to connect with people online ~ see what everyone is up to and just generally get inspired.  I think that no matter how far along you are in your career, there is always room to grow!

That’s why I’m happy to share some of my recent Senior Portraits here ~ I shoot a wide variety of events and portraits, but if I’m being completely honest…..seniors are my favorite.  Shhhh…don’t tell anyone 😉 I think the main reason I love shooting seniors so much is because we have entirely too much fun.  I shoot editorially and on location,  and give myself free reign to just create and be imaginative on these shoots.  Because we’re shooting outdoors and sometimes in new locations, you just never know what opportunities will arise – you have to be ready to improvise on a moment’s notice and be ready to notice a great setup when it reveals itself.  It also helps that most of my seniors are pretty much open for anything!   Oh to be 17 again!

One thing that makes my senior shoots a little different is that I include professional makeup application before and during the shoot.  I feel this is necessary, not only because the girls love and it makes the experience more special, but also because it makes my editing a whole lot easier.  😉  If they already look amazing straight out of the camera, my work is halfway done!

My workflow also changed when I started using Adobe Lightroom.  (I’m currently running LR 3)  Before this, I used Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop, and although I still use PS5,  I rarely open it.   I’ve found that I can get most, if not all, of my editing done efficiently in LR.   Presets = awesomeness.  I have purchased some and made my own as well….cannot recommend LR enough.  Get to know the the adjustment brush….it. is. amazing.  If you are finding yourself buried under mounds of editing….you might want to take a look at LR – and the tutorials are super easy to follow too.  I’m literally always online so if you have any questions you want to throw at me, here’s how you can find me:

Rock the Shot:  http://www.rocktheshotforum.com/forum/member.php?1655-reneebowen
Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/ReneeBowen
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ReneeBowenPhotography
Blog:  http://www.reneebowenblog.com
Formspring: http://www.formspring.me/reneebowen
Portfolio:  http://www.reneebowenphotography.com
Seniors:  http://www.reneebowenphotography.com/Seniors

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Shayla - February 21, 2011 - 3:10 pm

Thank you for this article. I am a self taught photographer, and this is the way I have been starting to edit more and more; but being self taught I always question myself! I had been wanting to use LR more then I have been but I didn’t know if things like the way it blurs/softens skin was “acceptable” (although I liked it I worried it was maybe too aggressive).

Anyways, I love your pictures, and feel liberated after reading this!

Thank You!

Jen Chesnut - February 21, 2011 - 6:30 pm

Gorgeous work!!!

Renee Fender - February 21, 2011 - 9:06 pm

Quick question – I primarily use LR too. What are your favorite preset sites? I have some I’ve created, some I’ve purchased, but am always open to finding new presets!

Megan - February 22, 2011 - 12:30 am


Christy Lee - February 22, 2011 - 2:23 pm

These are awesome shots! So glad to read this, I’m really wanting to get into Senior portraits and this is exactly what I had in mind when creating my style. Thanks- and thanks for the advice on Lightroom too- I’m still getting my “sea legs” with editing. Most all of my photos are purely organic with very light editing in Aperture. Good to know about LR!

Nicole - February 23, 2011 - 8:02 pm

Thank you for sharing. I love Seniors too! I’ve been on the fence about Light Room. I tried the 30 day trial but didn’t play with it much. Now I am regretting it. If you could explain the difference or help me see why I need it, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you!

Renee - February 24, 2011 - 9:59 pm

Great questions, guys! Ok, trying to answer in order :)

Renee: I like Pretty Presets http://www.prettypresets.com and Rebecca Lilly – http://www.rebeccalily.com/
I also follow http://www.presetsheaven.com ~ some nice free ones there & tips and tricks; more of a sharing site for photographers. What’s great about presets is that you can make even ones you purchase more your own…by easy tweaking….good for beginners to LR!

Nicole: Yeah, I was overwhelmed by it at first too….but you really need to watch tutorials to “see” what it can do. I have found that I can be so much more efficient in LR; it’s faster for me that PS – don’t get me wrong, I do love PS for certain things (hello, liquify tool!!!!) If LR could do THAT, I’d be a happy girl. But LR has freed up more time for me – and I was literally doing nothing but editing….so for me, it has sped up that process by syncing & copying and pasting the adjustments…I also have gotten to the point now when, during a shoot I will already know what kind of processing I will do with that photo with my own presets – so I shoot with that in mind.

A GREAT site for many tools and tips on LR, btw is
http://www.digitalphotobuzz.com – love it

I’m glad you guys felt inspired to try new things! Keep it up – being self taught is nothing to be ashamed of, Shayla! It’s hard work no matter how you come to the knowledge…and by continuing to shoot a LOT and learn new things, you will constantly challenge yourself to become a better photographer. Making mistakes is necessary for that process 😉


shannon - February 25, 2011 - 5:15 pm

seniors are FUN! Thank you for sharing some lil tips and some of your amazing shots! :)

Tiffany Farley - February 25, 2011 - 7:12 pm

Love this article!

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