Close up to hands with corsages

How to Take Great Prom Pictures (Ideas, Poses & Tips)

The prom is a landmark event in a teen's life, so make sure you capture fantastic prom photos with these popular poses and tried and tested tips.

Prom pictures are the best way to immortalize this fantastic time in your life.

You spend a lot of time searching for the right prom dress or suit, hair style, and everything else you need to make this night perfect. You need to capture all that effort in an ideal photograph.

Here, I’ll give you some tips and tricks to take cute pictures on the night of the prom. I’ll include prom photo ideas and technical advice on posing and lighting.  

Whether you’re a photographer hired for a prom photo shoot or you’re the one graduating wondering how to look your best, this article can help you out. 

How Do You Take Good Prom Pictures?

In this section, I’ll give you some tips to get good prom pics whether you’re a professional photographer or not.

I’ll also include some prom picture ideas to get kickstart your creativity. 

1. Depth of field

a young man in a tuxedo standing in a forest.

Credit: Kamshotthat

All portraits benefit from a blurry background. This makes a good separation and makes the subject stand out from the background

To achieve this effect, you need a narrow depth of field. You can control the DOF by combining different factors. A wide aperture will help you to blur the subject. 

Also, it’s easier to blur the background with a telephoto lens. Distance is another essential element. The closer you are to the subject, the narrower the DOF.

Also, keep the background further away from your subject. This will ensure that, even if the depth of field is a bit deep, the background is out of focus.

2. Shoot at different distances

a woman in a pink dress posing for a picture.

Credit: Becerra Govea Photo

Experiment with different distances – both physical distance and focal lengths if you have them. This way, you can get a beautiful headshot and a full-body one where you showcase the prom dress. 

This variety of shots will make your pictures more dynamic, and you’ll have a wide variety of photos to choose from.

3. Close ups

a group of women in long dresses standing next to each other.

Credit: Todd Cravens

While you’re experimenting with different crops, don’t forget to make a close-up of a single detail. It can be the corsage or the boutonnière. 

It doesn’t have to be a very tight shot. You can photograph one of them fixing the outfit of their prom date – for example, putting on a lapel pin. 

If you photograph a group of girls, you can focus on a detail of their prom dresses. Another idea that makes cute pictures is to line them up and capture their corsages.

4. Unposed prom pics

a man and a woman standing next to each other.

Credit: Juan Vargas

Some of the most memorable prom pictures are spontaneous, unposed ones. This is because the subjects are not professional models; they’re young and having a celebration night. 

So, make sure you snap many candid photos. It may be a couple walking together or best friends laughing and goofing around. 

Make the most out of the prep time and breaks – never put down your camera, and you’ll surely take some cute pictures. 

5. Group prom pictures

a group of women standing next to each other in formal gowns.

Credit: Ilhabela

Group photos are tricky. If it’s difficult to pose one person, managing an entire group is even more challenging. 

There are two types of group prom pictures – a small group of best friends or the entire class portrait. Best friends are easier to direct. In part because it’s a smaller group, and they already have a group dynamic. 

Instead, photographing a group photo is not easy. You can pose the group in a line if you have a wide-angle lens. Try to make a harmonious organization based on the color of the dresses or their height. 

Another solution is to pose half the group sitting in front and pose the other half standing behind them. 

6. On the dance floor

A couple dancing

Credit: Long Truong

Unlike wedding photography, prom photos don’t usually include the event. You’ll usually make a photo session with everyone in their prom dresses at home or on location. 

However, you can get some cute pictures if you actually attend prom. Instead (or on top) of taking portraits, you make a complete reportage-style photoshoot of the prom; you’ll capture tons of amazing pics.  

7. Taking prom pictures at home

Two pictures of women dressed for prom

Credit: Amy Kate (left) / Efren Barahona (right)

You don’t need to take prom photos in a studio or a fancy location. You can make professional-looking pictures at home.

So, how do you take prom pictures at home? This is something that works if you’re taking your own pictures or when you’re a photographer hired to work at the client’s home.

Ambient light is easier to work with, but it might not be enough if you shoot in the evening before the event. So, you may want to use a flash. Avoid using the one in your camera; a small flash head with an umbrella may be enough.

If you’re using natural light, schedule the shooting when there’s still enough daylight. Not only that, the quality of light is important too. You need soft light, so make it close to sunset. 

Include some props, such as balloons or a bouquet. Also, choose a clean background that doesn’t steal the subject’s attention.

8. Take prom pictures using your phone

Not everyone has the possibility to hire a professional photographer on prom night. Between prom dresses, flowers, getting your hair done, etc., you may not have the budget for it. 

So, many people wonder how do I take prom pictures with my iPhone?

The great thing about using a smartphone for your photos is that you can be anywhere. So, find a location with good light. It can be indoors or outdoors; just make sure there’s enough light so you don’t need the flash from the phone. 

Find a backdrop that’s either interesting to interact with or very simple, so it’s not distracting. A solid color wall if you’re inside or trees when you’re outdoors always look good in photos.

Use a tripod and the self-timer. This way, the photo will look more professional than a selfie. Lastly, put your phone in Portrait mode. This will blur the background, and you’ll stand out more. 

How Should I Pose for Pictures for Prom?


Whether you’re on your own, with your prom date, or with your best friends – here are some posing tips to look your best. 

1. Turn 45 degrees

a woman in a pink dress holding a pink flower.

Credit: Becerra Govea Photo

One of the most flattering poses for portraits is to turn your body at a 45-degree angle. The head should still be facing toward the camera. This works for all genders and body types.

2. Don’t forget about the hands 

a woman in a black dress and a man in a tuxedo holding hands.

Credit: Kevin Yang

Once you get into the pose, don’t forget about your hands. These details are the ones that can make or break a portrait.

The guys can put their hands on the pants pockets. Also, they can use their hands to fix their clothes – pulling the sleeve of their shirt or adjusting their tie.   

Women can use the purse as a prop to give their hands something to do. If it’s a clutch bag, hold it at an angle; if the purse has a handle, grab it with both hands in front of you. 

You can put your hand on the waist if you don’t want to include props. Otherwise, you can put your hand up to touch your hair or under your chin.  

If it’s a couple’s portrait, they can be holding hands.

3. Establish the PDA level for couple photos

a man and a woman sitting on a bench.

Credit: Hunter Newton

If you’re a professional photographer, remember that your clients are the prom couple’s parents. You want to make cute pictures that are romantic but appropriate. 

Once you agree on a PDA level (‘Public Display of Affection!), you can decide which poses are best. 

5 Tips for Looking Attractive in High School (Prom) Pictures

Remember that prom pictures are a way to capture this unique moment in your life. So, the way you’ll look your best in your prom pics is by feeling confident and enjoying the experience. 

a woman in a red dress and a man in a blue suit.

Credit: Christian Bowen

Here are a few tips to help you out.

  1. Don’t experiment on prom night. If you’re going to do your hair and makeup differently from what you usually do, make sure you try it beforehand. Remember that a style that looks good on Instagram photos of other people may not be ideal for you. So, stick to what makes you know or experiment in advance. 
  2. Smile. So, how do you smile for prom pictures? Try to relax your facial muscles and think about happy things. Laughing naturally is the best smile.
  3. Practice some poses. If you’re wondering how do you stand in prom pictures? – the answer is that it depends on the poses. Look at pictures online and do the poses you like in front of a mirror. This way, you’ll learn how you look your best. It also depends if you’re taking your prom pics with your prom date, best friends, or by yourself.
  4. Use soft light. Hard shadows can create unflattering effects like dark circles under the eyes. The most flattering light is soft light. Using natural light, take pictures during the golden hour or stand in the shade. Otherwise, use a diffuser such as a softbox or an umbrella for artificial light. 
  5. Have fun. After you spend all the necessary time getting ready, just relax and enjoy. Have you ever noticed that confident people having fun on the dance floor look great, even if they don’t know how to dance? The same principle applies to prom photos. Stop worrying about your hair style and prom dress, and start having fun. Maybe take some action portraits while you jump or dance. 


What time should you take prom pictures?

Consider at least one and a half hours for the photo shoot. So, schedule the pictures depending on when they must leave for prom. 

How much do prom pictures cost?

This may change depending on the area. It also depends on how many prom pics you’ll receive, etc. However, hiring a prom photographer costs – on average, between $75 and $125, according to 

How long do prom pictures take?

Usually, a prom photo shoot takes an hour. However, it’s a good idea to take a break in between so everyone can relax, fix their outfits, etc. It’s best to estimate an hour and a half. 

What do you wear to prom pictures?

A prom dress and a suit are the most common outfits. However, you can choose to have a themed photo session with your friends or more casual photos with your date before you get ready for prom. 

How much should I charge for prom pictures?

A good way to establish your fees is by understanding the market. See how much the photographers in your area charge and establish where you stand within that range.

Some aspects to consider are your expertise, the duration of the photo shoot, and the number of photos you’ll deliver. Ultimately, only you know how much your time and vision are worth. 

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Shotkit Writer & Camera Gear Reviewer

Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.

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