14 Tips for Taking Stunning Prom Pictures

It's easier than you think to take totally Instagram-worthy prom pics everyone will love.

Published March 17, 2023

From finding the perfect pose to getting the most flattering light, taking your own prom pictures doesn't have to be stressful. In fact, it's actually pretty easy to get some amazing shots that really show off your outfit and capture this important moment. These tips can help you get beautiful, memorable photos!

Leave Plenty of Time for Prom Photos


When you take prom photos matters. You don't want to feel rushed or have to quickly figure out how to pose for these pictures. Everything needs to be pretty chill so you'll look and feel relaxed.

A prom photoshoot takes at least an hour, so the best time to take photos is about an hour and a half before you need to leave for prom (or dinner if you're going out to eat ahead of time). If you're doing solo photos, you could do those first and then have your date or friends arrive for the rest of the pictures. Take your time to keep the stress at a minimum.

Find the Best Light for Prom Pics


Your best light for prom photos is...shade. Yeah, we know; it seems like it might be dark or too moody. The truth is, though, bright sunlight casts weird shadows on people's faces and isn't the most flattering. You want soft light instead, which is usually found in the shade.

If you're lucky enough to get an overcast day for prom, you can take photos anywhere you want. But if the sun is out, look for a tree or a pavilion at a park to get the prettiest pictures.

Pick the Perfect Background


The background you choose matters. We're not telling you to hang up a sheet or anything. Just look for a spot that doesn't have a ton of clutter (this means people walking around, cars, a random grill or patio chair, that kind of thing).

Some perfect prom backgrounds are stands of trees or flowering bushes, your front porch if it's mostly clutter-free, a grassy field, or any spot that is a fairly uniform color. You don't want tons of pattern or anything too crazy happening because it can detract from the whole point of prom pictures: the people going to prom.

Get Some Full-Length Solo Photos


Finding the perfect prom dress or outfit isn't easy, so you need a photo that really shows it off. This should be a full-length shot, and the pose is very important. This is prom pose is a winner if you want something sinuous and graceful:

  1. Turn your body and shoulders so you're facing slightly away from the camera; this is called a three-quarter profile pose.
  2. Put your weight on your back foot and bend your front leg just a little.
  3. On the side of your body closer to the camera, place your hand on your hip and keep your arm relaxed. Let your other arm rest next to your body.
  4. Turn your head to face the camera and smile naturally.

For more of a power pose, try standing with your weight on your back foot and your hands on your hips or in your pockets. Lean slightly forward as you look at the camera.

Capture Your Relationship With Great Prom Poses for Couples


Prom is an important milestone in any relationship, and you want your photos to show how you feel about each other. The perfect pose will show the joy you feel with your prom date while still being flattering for both of you. This is a slimming pose that shows off some of the back of a dress or outfit. Here's how to do it:

  1. Have one person stand facing the camera with their head and shoulders angled just slightly.
  2. The other person should face them, placing one hand on their chest and the other arm around their waist.
  3. Think about something hilarious to get some natural smiles.

Remember to Take Some Prom Photos With Your Best Friend


Poses for romantic partners and dates are one thing, but it's also important to show how much you and your best friend care for each other. Try this simple pose for two people:

  1. Have each person stand slightly angled toward each other and also toward the camera (kind of a 45-degree angle).
  2. Both of them should put their weight on their back legs and a hand on the outside hip.
  3. They can put their arms around each other and slightly angle their heads together.

Get Some Great Shots of You With a Few Friends


Did you get ready with friends before prom? Get a shot of the group too. For almost everyone, the key to a flattering photo is having your shoulders at a different angle than your head. If you turn your shoulders sideways to the camera and look straight at the lens, you'll look great! Do this with friends for a group shot everyone will want to frame. Here's how:

  1. Have two people sit back-to-back and turn their heads to face the camera.
  2. If you want to add more people to the photo, have them echo the position of the first two, facing their shoulders away from the first two and looking at the camera.
  3. Have everyone smile.
  4. Take this photo from a little above eye level. This makes the shot even more flattering.

Grab a Huge Group Shot if You're Going With Lots of People


Going to prom with a big group of friends? Getting an awesome shot of everyone might seem tricky, but it's actually totally doable. The key is a great pose and taking tons of photos so you can choose one where no one is blinking. Here's how to nail the group prom pose:

  1. Have everyone stand in a line. The people on either end of the line should move in just a little to give the line a gentle curve.
  2. Tell everyone to get a little closer, since people naturally want to preserve personal space. Photos look happier when people are touching or nearly touching, though. Put your arms around each other's waists or shoulders.
  3. Have each person shift their weight onto their back leg and bring their other leg forward just a little more. They should each tilt their shoulders just a little away from the camera.
  4. Tell everyone to look at the camera and smile.

Remember to Pose for Prom Photos With Parents Too


This is an important night for parents too, so it's great to get a prom photo that includes them. Keep the pose simple to make everyone look great and get a photo you'll all love for years to come. Try this method:

  1. Stand with your shoulders just slightly angled away from the camera and your head looking at the camera. Keep your weight on the back leg.
  2. You and your parents can put your arms around each other.
  3. Don't forget to smile.

Get Some Hilarious Photos on Prom Night


There's something about dressing up in beautiful prom gowns and swanky tuxes that just begs for a little humor. You'll make everyone laugh with these funny prom picture ideas:

  • Photobomb - A photobomb is always funny, even when it's your dad. When you take your prom pictures, throw in a few well-timed background jumps to get a good laugh.
  • Muscle pose - Just because you look like a prince or princess doesn't mean you can't show off some awesome (and hilarious) flexing power. This is a cute photo to do with friends.
  • Canine date - Sure, you can't actually bring your dog to prom, but you can make it look like you're planning to. Dress your pooch up in a doggie tux or gown and pose for photos.
  • Animal mask - Just as the camera comes out, pull out a hilarious animal mask and slip it on. The contrast between your formal outfit and funny mask will have everyone laughing, whether it's in group shots or solo pics at the dance.
  • Hilarious props - Pick up some funny props like moustaches, hats, and kissing lips. When you're ready to take your prom photos, pull them out for some super cute pics.

Try Tons of Angles in Your Photos


Whether you're going for a photo that's going to have everyone laughing or one you'll treasure for years to come, take the shots from a ton of different angles. Get some close up and some from a distance, plus try shooting from one side or the other.

Don't Forget the Details


Prom is all about the details, right? The corsages, jewelry, bow ties, and pretty much everything else has a ton of thought behind it. Give those little things the big impact they deserve by snapping some pictures that are really just about them. It will help tell the story of your prom experience.

Get Unique Prom Pictures With Film or an Instant Camera


Phone photos and digital shots are great, don't get us wrong. But you can take your prom picture game to the next level with some film photos or instant camera shots. Borrow a 35mm film camera if you don't own one and pick up some film (may we recommend Kodak Portra 400 for flattering prom pics?). You can drop the film off at a local photo shop for developing. The waiting is part of the fun.

If you don't love waiting but still want that retro look, try an instant camera. They still make them, and you can find them at most big box stores. Or you can borrow one and just buy some film. You'll love seeing those little prom photos develop while you watch.

Shoot Some Candid Photos at Prom


While the major prom photoshoot usually happens before the dance, you can keep grabbing great photos as the evening continues. Candid pictures that aren't posed and just show people having fun will probably end up being some of your very favorite shots.

The key here is having your phone or camera out to grab photos. You don't have to make it a big deal or anything. Just take a few shots as people are dancing or sitting around. Try to get ones of your friends laughing and just having a great time.

Quick Tip

When you're taking photos at prom, you'll probably be shooting in low light. Don't use the flash if you can avoid it. Instead, try to brace your elbows on a table or against your body and let the shutter speed be a little slow. You'll get some blurry shots, but they will look way better than if the flash was firing (plus you won't annoy people).

Take Prom Pictures You're Excited to Share


There's so much to think about when it comes to planning for and going to prom, but your photos don't have to be one of the things adding to your stress burden. Just have a good time and try to capture the outfits and moments in a way that makes you even happier. Then share your photos on Instagram or with friends and enjoy your special evening.

14 Tips for Taking Stunning Prom Pictures