Those of you who have been working with me for a long time may be wondering why you see so many high school senior sessions on my feed these days. For years I was the family portrait photographer, the kids photographer, and I take fantastic headshots. I am still shooting family sessions and headshots, and if you need to update yours, click here! That being said, for the past couple of years, people call me the “senior photographer.” Why? Partly because my kids are right in this demographic. My eldest is a sophomore in college, and my youngest will graduate from high school this year with the class of 2020. Parents of kids leaving the nest: I am right in the thick of it with you. These kids are my people. These last few years I have also learned something pretty cool – photographing high school seniors really lights me up.
I spent some time this week thinking about why that is. I’ve been told by so many of you that my portraits truly capture the personality and character of the kids that I am photographing. That’s the best possible compliment I can receive. Why do I love it? Well, first of all, it’s because I love these kids. I love getting to know them, discovering what makes them tick, and playing with all of that during their session. I love taking somebody who loves to be in front of the camera, and watching them bloom, shine, laugh, and sparkle – and all the things that make a photo session amazing.
What I love even more, is taking somebody who feel uncomfortable in front of the camera and watching them open themselves up to me, make themselves vulnerable, and end up having the time of their lives. I love watching their faces when they see the portraits we’ve created. Their expressions are stunned and they ask, “Is that really me?” They see their best selves reflected back in the images, in a way that’s authentic, awesome, and ALL ABOUT THEM.
From the beginning, it’s been my mantra to be a storyteller.
“Let’s tell your story,“ has been my tag line for a very long time. I believe that telling the story of the people I photograph is my most important job. A high school senior is at a beautiful crossroads. They’re beginning to realize who they are, and yet they are just scratching the surface. They are real, authentic, crazy, and somehow both innocent and wise. I love hanging out with them, and I love telling their stories.
A big part of the senior portrait experience is our consultation. This is such an important element in the process because it allows us to get to know each other and dig into who they are and what they’re about. Yes, we also go over pricing, products, and all of the nuts and bolts, but this time is really about communicating all the cool stuff that makes them who they are.
It’s amazing what comes out of these meetings! One senior spotted a former client in a flight jacket, and said to his mom, “Oh man, I wish I had a flight jacket.” We started talking about how he takes flying lessons and within minutes we added a location shoot at the airplane hangar where he takes lessons WITH PLANES…and a sweet flight jacket.
Another senior guy and his family have an incredible story to tell that has shaped and molded their family in ways that have influenced countless lives. This guy’s dad is a real-life hero who gave his life to save many in a rescue mission over Iraq. Bringing the memorial flag and his dad’s truck to his session was just one of the incredible ways we wove his story into his portraits. Greyson also hunts, climbs, loves to fly fish, and rocks a bow tie, so we were busy!
One of my Class of 2019 senior girls wanted to spend a day going to several places that held special meaning for her, some just for fun, and some because they’re part of her heart. We started in a greenhouse, drove to a small town she loves, visited an incredibly cool antique store, and ended at the camp that’s been part of her life for many years. We had too much fun and captured some of my favorite images.
When you book your senior session with me, you (or your senior) will get a questionnaire to fill out to help get you thinking about how we can start this conversation at the consultation. Senior parents, consider the things that have shaped your child as they have grown into the incredible, unique human they are now. Seniors, take some time to think about how you want to tell your story. What can we weave into your shoot that is cool, different, or just totally part of you? It doesn’t have to be an airplane. I shot an entire session at a Starbucks. It just has to be about YOU.
Oh, and if you spent time studying in Europe, are a major bibliophile, and have an ACTUAL Gandalf scarf, I will find you a castle with a library and we will totally go all in. If it gets dark and the windows in the castle light up and suddenly we have a Sherlock Holmes vibe? Yeah. I will go there.
Your life is your story, and the adventure ahead of you is the journey to fulfill your own potential.