It’s hard to believe that the end of your high school career is nigh. But no matter how much you want to savor the last few weeks with your squad, there are still a million things you’ve got to do before you can settle in and enjoy yourself. When you’re not DIYing your graduation cap to match your BFF, you’re probably hard at work finding them the perfect grad gift — all on top of studying for those pesky finals.

Luckily, there’s always your senior photograph to look forward to — a chance to look back on all the amazing friends you’ve gained and really put an awesome stamp on the end of your senior year. We chatted with expert photographer Sarah Jane Simplicio from Artona for her best tips and tricks for taking an awesome senior photo that’s timeless, exciting and totally you.

Artona Senior Photo One

1. Choose a stress-less makeup and hairstyle. We all want to be able to pull off Miley Cyrus’ iconic nubs and Nikki Minaj’s flawless neon eyeshadow, but the day of your senior picture is not the time to experiment. Go with something classic and elegant. The worst thing you could do is have your friends and fam flip through your pics and not be able to recognize you.

2. Bring your bestie, not your boyfriend. Whether you want them in the picture or just there for support, Sarah advises, “Bring your friend who you’ve been close with since eighth grade. Your pet counts… besides, they’ve probably been more loyal to you than some friends you know,” she jokes.

3. Make it personal. Senior photographs are meant to capture your true interests, so don’t settle for a meaningless prop. “Bring a prop that you can’t live without,” Sarah counsels. From the sport you’ve been playing for most of your life to your favorite teddy bear (no judgment, says Sarah), making your photographs as personal as possible is a sure-fire way to make them unforgettable.

Artona Senior Photo 2

4. Choose the right outfit for you and your family. Just like your makeup and hair, a classic outfit is always a winner. But let’s say you fall in love with a gorgeous dress that your parents aren’t quite enthralled with. According to Sarah, your senior photos are as much for your fam as they are for you. Just give them this one, she advises. That doesn’t mean you have to completely throw out your personal style — remember to “be recognizable” — just make sure your parents love your outfit as much as you do.

5. Bring your kindest attitude and best character to the photographer. “Leave your bad attitude at the door,” says Sarah. If you’re super stressed and terse with the photographer during your session, “it’ll be reflected in the picture.”

6. Be mindful during the big day. When the day comes, you’re probably going to have a million things on your mind — from getting your makeup just right to coordinating times and pick-ups with your friends. Just make sure that you take enough time to breathe, relax and really enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience. You’ve earned it, grad!

Do you have any tips for taking an amazing senior photo? Tweet us your comments by mentioning @BritandCo.

(Photos via Artona Group)