Surviving Summer Portrait Sessions

If you don’t live in Texas, haven’t been here or heard about us ever, you might not know that it gets hot here.  I am a native Texan, and every year we approach triple digits and I swear I am moving.  I won’t sugar coat it. Hot its an understatement and it’s flat out miserable.  It gets so hot the pool feels more like a bath than what I desperately want to be a refreshing dip.  But for a lot of my clients, summer is the best time to plan their senior session.  Schedules are flexible, there are extra hours of daylight, and most of the extra curricular activities are on a break.  But, refer back to my first sentence its HOT.

But let me drop a quick little truth bomb, some of my favorite images were taken during the summer.  I know, the idea of being outdoors for a couple of hours, and multiple wardrobe changes – some of which might include jeans or a letter jacket (gasp) – while having a perfect hairstyle and full face of makeup sounds terrible.  But in 20 years, when you walk past that canvas hanging in your moms hallway, right where she hung it 20 years ago, you will both smile at the youthful version of yourself and laugh about how hot it was that I had to photoshop the sweat from under your arms and goodness knows where else.

Tips on surviving summer portrait sessions

So do I have you convinced that Summer Senior Portraits can work? Not yet? Well the unfortunate news is you might still be planning that portrait session anyway because it needs to get done before yearbook deadlines.  But fret not, I have a few heat busting tips to help you survive the heat and keep your hair and makeup looking fresh.


ALL.OF.IT. You don’t want to spend your time or worse PAY someone to have you looking fabulous only to have the humid zap your luscious locks for what could easily be mistaken as a tumbleweed.  Look, if your hair is anything like mine, if I straighten it, it will immediately turn into a somewhat curly mess and if I try and curl it, it will double in size and fall flat.  Don’t ask me how it works, its just science somehow. And while I know Texas like everything bigger, a frizz ball mop is not at the top of the list.  Volume should be intentional not accidental.  But luckily there is this product called hairspray.  Its incredible and allows you to hold the style you intend it to have. But this isn’t like a quick dusting before heading to the movies with your beau, I am talking helmet that bad boy.  Spray it immediately after you finish styling (maybe even while your styling).  Spray it again right before you leave, and again when you arrive at your location, and again after every outfit change. My absolute favorite hairspray for outdoor styles is Kenra Platinum Finishing Spray. I used this stuff for my outdoor June wedding where it rained immediately following the ceremony (so extremely hot and ridiculously humid).  My hair did not budge.

Shine Spray

Hairspray is great for holding on to style, but frizz is sneaky and you may find yourself looking to tame those flyaways.  This product is essential if you are wearing your hair straight. Even the straightest hair needs taming from time to time.  And in my experience the more you touch hair, the less it does what you want.  So during our session, my favorite thing to do is spray a bit in the palm of my hand and smooth it a coupe inches down from the roots.  If you have curls, spray your palms and twirl you curls loosely and let the fall naturally.  You do NOT want to rustle up the roots or attempt to comb through your curls. The less you can touch it the better, and ideally only with product in your hand.

Blotting Paper

You’ll probably sweat.  It’s not fun and its not necessarily pretty but it is a reality. The blotting papers can help save the day! The worst thing for makeup is to wipe.  You will remove your foundation and power and leave streaks all over your face.  Thats even WORSE than a few sweat drops across your forehead.  I would first use a towel to very gently blot away the sweat. The follow with blotting paper. It will help decrease the shine that happens from our glowing summer beauty

Waterproof Eye Makeup

Have you ever accidentally gone swimming in your full face of makeup, then wiped your eyes?  The raccoon effect is real, and while sweating at your outdoor summer session isn’t exactly that wet, you get the idea.  If your skin is glowing from more than your highlighter and you go to wipe the sweat from your brow, your makeup is going to smear across your face. Not cute. And to be honest its not easy to correct in photoshop either, so its best to just avoid this whole situation by starting with products that are meant to withstand the elements.  I still highly discourage wiping your face during you session at all, but now if it happens at least your eyes will still be in place.

Powder and Lipstick

At least!  Bring your whole makeup bag if you can.  I don’t expect you to have time or desire to redo your face at every outfit change, but having the option to touch up with some powder and lipstick will keep your face looking fresh, even if it doesn’t feel that way.


And not just during our session, though thats important.  Drink tons, and tons of water before and after your session too.  The heat is rough and its hard on your body, and you don’t want to feel the symptoms of dehydration right in the middle of your session.  So drink extra water that day, and like actual water not soda or sweet tea.  The caffeine works against you, so while its delicious it will not necessarily keep you from feeling faint.

Plan a Morning Session

I get it, morning is early.  This time of year, sunrise is about 7am, and the very best light will be the first 2 hours of the day.  So the idea of being up and photo ready at 7am seems like a tall order, and to be honest it is.  I get it, mornings are HARD, especially when you are trying to look your best.  But here is the truth, there is a 15 – degree difference in the heat index from the morning hours to the evening hours.  Would you rather shoot when it feels 86 outside or 102? The actual temperature only changes about 10 degrees, but the sun beating down on the grass and concrete and bouncing up makes it feel so much hotter throughout the day then it actually is. And to be honest, that timing can be flexible depending on the location you choose.  But about 11 am, there is little difference in temperature compared to the evening hours which offer the better lighting.

Frozen Things

The day before grab a couple small towels or wash cloths (bandanas work too!) and get them wet.  Ring them out so they are not dripping wet and freeze them.  Grab a couple bottles of water and throw those in as well.  Right before your session, pack a cooler with your frozen towels and waters.  The water will feel amazing to roll on your back and neck and you can use the towels as you get hot to cool off your neck or forehead. You do not want to wipe your face, but just rest it or dap it to keep your makeup in tact. This is also why you want to ring your towels out before you freeze them.  You definitely don’t want water dripping down your face and clothes.

Primer and Setting Spray

Girl, prime your face. It’s essential, don’t skip this step.  And after you’ve completed your look, use setting spray.  And buy the matte kind, you don’t need a dewy finish, trust me the weather will take care of adding the glow.  Its not perfect, your makeup might still run, but it will slow the process and thats exactly what needs to happen.  I know that your hair and makeup may not last all day and through your planned GNO, but it only has to last a couple hours for our session. So take all the shortcuts and help you can.

Plan AC Breaks

Every outfit change, head to the car to cool off a bit.  You will fell so much better.  And I would 100% rather wait the 10 minutes it takes you to cool off and have you feeling and looking better than to have a head exhausted, sweaty mess of a person who is over it.  Its not fun for any of us so its totally fine to take breaks as needed.

Plan a Hairstyle Change

There is such a thing as the point of no return.  The truth is, we can delay the fall and the frizz, but at some point it will rear its ugly head and we will be forced to deal with it.  The very best option in this case is to  pull your hair up.  Plan a look towards the end of your session that looks great with a style change.  I love a high ponytail, fishtail braid, top knots (half or full)!  And if you hired someone for hair and makeup, many of them will travel to your session with you for an additional fee.  And its in invaluable during these hot months to have someone there to touch everything up. Accessories can hide a multitude of imperfections so plan ahead and bring a cute hate.  On top of being practical all of these suggestions help to add a variety to your senior session and really give you completely different looks.

timber creek high school senior 2019

Move it Inside

I know maybe a studio isn’t your first choice for senior portraits.  But let me tell you, there are so many studio options that are so far from the boring traditional portraits.  I myself don’t work out of a dedicated studio space, and that is on purpose, because it gives me and my clients flexibility to choose the perfect location for them.  If you are not into the big studio lights and cheesy backdrops you’re in luck because studios don’t work that way anymore. There is everything from a perfectly clean white space, to something with a more industrial feel, and even a few with some backdrops but they are FAR from boring.  Just a few options in DFW include:

The Lumen Room – locations in Dallas and Fort Worth

TX Studio

Studio House

The Dark Room

Pink Pineapple Studios

Studio Bellas

And these are just photography studios! Most wedding and event venues allow photographers to rent their space as well.  Brik, 4eleven, and House of Dirt are just a few that come to mind. But literally there are so many cool options.

And you don’t have to limit your options to just an indoor space available for rent.  Love makeup? Let’s do a session at Sephora.  Do you go to the movies every weekend? Well sounds like a movie theater session would fit your personality perfectly.  I did a session in Taco Bell last year. Let your creative flag fly here, there is so much fun you can have when you start to think outside the box.  And you dont have to commit an ENTIRE session to indoors.  Book a studio for an hour, then for the second hour we head outside.  It saves your hair and makeup that first hour and gives you loads of variety from just 1 session.

Well, if you made it this far, I am impressed.  I assume that means you are now considering your summer senior session and I promise, you will survive!


By |2019-07-10T02:47:08+00:00July 10th, 2019|