About the author

David is the owner of Oluanai Photography based in Billings, MT. We are a high-end portraiture studio with extensive experience with seniors, commercial, small business content, weddings and family portraiture. www.oluanai.com

Senior Photos

After wedding photos, senior shots are probably the most meaningful photos someone can take. They celebrate an incredible achievement, mark a major milestone in becoming an adult and they are photos that will be referred to for the rest of someone's life. They should be done well, be timeless and capture the fun life-filled essence that is youth.

Despite our Covid inspired month long pajama, family time, slumber party, I've started getting the calls and booking shoots that mark the beginning of senior season 2021. For those of you who have conquered Netflix and are thinking ahead to senior photos I've listed 12 epic ideas for senior photos for the more adventurous seniors to consider. Before I do, I have some ground rules...

  • Every senior shoot needs the "parent" shots: simple happy smiling photos your mom and dad can share at the office and hang on the wall.
  • You can do more than 1 concept. Senior shoots are usually 2-4 hours long, you have time to do multiple ideas
  • Be creative and think about who you are... these photos will last a lifetime!
  • Have fun with it!

*all of the following photos were taken by us here at Oluanai.


These ideas are called essential because they can be shot in and around the studio in down town Billings. They don't require a long shoot and the set-up is minimal so you can get a lot with a basic package. They are a good way of getting a lot out senior shoot without breaking the bank.

1. Studio Portrait

Studio portraits are a classic option. They are much less common today so even though studio portraits are very familiar they will actually be unique without being over-the-top. They also have a lot of staying power since they are such a timeless concept and they can range from traditional to wild (see idea #4).


2. Show off your skills

For a lot of kids a walk around downtown can give them an opportunity to show off some of their dancing talents. Dance shots are strenuous and require talent to turn out good, so they aren't for everyone, but if you're a talented dancer, this could be the way to go!


3. Downtown Walk

A simple walk downtown in a creative outfit goes a long way for portraits. A simple headshot done well can stand out without a lot of flair. The neutral colors of the streets are flattering to skin tones. The tall buildings and signs really frame some great shots. And the variety in colors allow for some changes in tones.


4. Colored Lights

I don't recommend you do a whole set with colored lights, but if you like the concept, adding a few of the these can be a lot of fun. Saturated colors, cool poses and fun wardrobe can ad a splash of variety to your senior photos. Something to think about :)

Editorial Ideas

These ideas are a little more involved. They require a team transport gear, set things up in a new location, and take a little more time to pull off, that's why at Oluanai they are part of the Editorial packages. The logistics involved with these shoots usually require a little longer shoot but it gets you out of downtown and studio.

5. Girl In Field

Probably the most popular senior photo shoot is "girl in field". I try to avoid the cliche as much as possible, but it's popular for a reason. The texture of a field makes an image interesting. The tones can range from natural to dramatic to high fashion. The feel of the photo can be editorial (seen here) or happy and light hearted (featured banner photo at the top of the post). Girl in field is also a general parent pleaser. While it is the most common way to go with photos, we do our best to make these shots stunning. The quality of the images will make the shot stand out, even if the idea might be popular.

Rachelle Kathleen

6. A Beautiful Wooded Park

Wooded parks are great because they tend to give a full frame to photos. The trees provide a lot of composition option and the colors lend themselves to a lot of different types of feels. You can go whimsical (seen here), bright and airy, PNW, or more traditional natural toning, all of which can look amazing. Parks also allow for a lot of variety in wardrobe. You can be casual, boho or go big with a gown. You can't go wrong with a wooded park and it's a great alternative to the girl-in-filed photos.


7. Smoke Bombs

There are a lot of back smoke bomb shots out there, but they can be really great if you do them right. They come in lots of colors and high quality smoke bombs are available now - don't think $3 toys from fourth of July. You probably wouldn't do a whole shoot of smoke bombs, but it could be a great addition to a day of shooting.


8. Architecture Focused

Let's go to your favorite spots around town and get some classy shots in settings that speak to you. It can be modern, classic, rustic or grungy. Either way, be creative. Guys who like the power look (seen here) can get some epic photos in a cool building.

9. Bougie

Go all out with a dramatic look. A gorgeous gown in studio, or around town can make for some magazine worthy images. Oluanai can help with finding wardrobe and accessories. Your senior photos could have a lot to say if you're open to a big look.


The idea of exclusives is that they are shots only you would have. Most senior photos tend to look the same. Exclusive concepts are designed to make seniors stand out with photo ideas that are spectacular and unique to them.

10. Highlight your passions

Set up and paint a canvas in the middle of downtown. Play a piano in a field. Ride your horse through a river. These are amazing shots that you'll never see your friends get, but you can. Think about what you're passionate about and Oluanai can give you something spectacular.

11. Destination Shoots

We're not stuck in Billings, MT. You have a great concept? Destination shoots, gives you a one-of-a-kind sense for your photos. If your location is within 3 hours of the studio there's no extra cost. Want to go somewhere really far away? Just include travel costs and we're off to wherever you want to go.


12. Dramatic Athletic concepts

If you're a skilled athlete, the sky is the limit of what you can do with photography when you have an experienced photographer. We've shot professional dancers and athletes for over a dozen years. We have a ton of ideas for you to make something incredible with your talent.

Contact Oluanai