Graduating senior Lilly Mills is no ordinary student. I met Lilly Mills for the first time when she was 3 days old. Her mother Jenny Kelsey Mills and I have been friends since my dairy princess days in the mid-90s. Jenny was a year ahead of me at Cornell and was always there to light the path. I’m so lucky to call her a lifelong friend. Needless to say, it was a huge honor to capture Lilly’s senior portraits. She is SO beautiful – inside and out.

As a dedicated figure skater, Lilly has balanced her passion for the ice with her standout academic pursuits. Lilly will attend Cornell University this Fall to study Animal Science. So it was no surprise that she wanted to include this important aspect of her upbringing – agriculture – into her session. Taking the photos at her family’s beautiful sheep farm was the perfect backdrop to showcase her diverse interests – from animals to figure skating. 

In this blog post, we’ll share tips on taking stunning outdoor senior photos, inspired by Lilly’s unique and diverse background. Her journey is a testament to her grace, determination, and adaptability—qualities that shine through in her senior portraits.

1. Choose the Perfect Location

Just as a skater thrives on a well-maintained rink, the setting for your senior photos should enhance your natural beauty and personality. Consider locations that resonate with your interests or offer a beautiful backdrop. For Lilly, capturing the connection to her family’s sheep farm was important.


  • Look for places with natural light, like parks, gardens, or beaches.
  • Choose locations that offer a variety of backgrounds, such as trees, water, or architectural elements.

2. Timing is Everything

**Golden Hour Magic**

Figure skaters understand the importance of timing—executing a jump at the perfect moment is crucial. Similarly, the time of day can make or break your outdoor photos. The golden hour, shortly after sunrise or before sunset, provides soft, warm lighting that adds a magical touch to your portraits.


  • Plan your photoshoot around the golden hour for the best natural light.
  • Avoid harsh midday sun, which can create unflattering shadows.

3. Dress for Success

For your senior photos, select outfits that make you feel confident and comfortable.


  • Choose colors that complement your skin tone and the environment.
  • Bring a variety of outfits to capture different looks and moods.

4. Posing with Poise

**Graceful Movements**

Figure skating is all about grace and poise, and these elements can enhance your senior portraits. Practice poses that highlight your best features and convey your personality. Lilly might incorporate some of her skating moves into her poses for a unique touch.


  • Practice in front of a mirror to find your most flattering angles.
  • Don’t be afraid to move and experiment with dynamic poses.

5. Embrace Natural Elements

**Flow with the Wind**

Much like gliding effortlessly across the ice, your outdoor photos should feel natural and unforced. Embrace the elements around you—wind, water, and sunlight can add a dynamic and spontaneous feel to your photos.


  • Use props like flowers, hats, or even a pair of skates to add personal touches.
  • Don’t shy away from candid shots that capture genuine moments and emotions.

6. Highlight Your Achievements & Interests

**Showcase Your Journey**

Lilly’s senior portraits wouldn’t be complete without nods to her achievements on the ice. Whether it’s incorporating her skates, medals, or a favorite skating costume, these elements add depth and personal significance to her photos.


  • Include items that represent your high school journey, hobbies, or future plans.
  • Think about creative ways to integrate these elements into your photos.

7. Capture the Spirit

**Tell Your Story**

Every senior has a unique story, and your portraits should reflect who you are and where you’re headed. For Lilly, it’s the story of a dedicated skater who pursued her dreams while completing her education online. Let your photos capture the essence of your journey.


  • Work with a photographer who understands your vision and can bring it to life.
  • Be yourself and enjoy the process—your genuine spirit will shine through in the photos.


Lilly Mills’ senior portrait session is more than just a photoshoot; it’s a celebration of her hard work, dedication, and diverse interests. By choosing the right location, timing, outfits, poses, and personal touches, you can create stunning outdoor senior portraits that reflect your unique journey and achievements.

So, lace up those skates, step into the golden hour, and let your true self shine through each frame. Here’s to capturing the grace and beauty of your senior year, just like Lilly. To book your senior session with Katie, contact us today!

Feel free to share your senior portrait experiences and tips in the comments below. And congratulations to all the graduating seniors—your journey is just beginning!