Deciding where to have your senior portraits taken may seem daunting. There are so many choices, and you want it to be perfect. After all, it’s your (or your child’s) senior year! Then again, it’s such a busy time, and there are so many choices ahead on the journey into full-fledged adult life that selecting a portrait location may seem like a blip on your radar... so you haven’t even considered it. Either way, we’re here to help and hopefully provide some inspiration.
The first thing to consider when deciding where to have your portraits taken is the time of year. What’s your favorite season? Is season even important to you? You may despise being hot, but love crisp air, layers, sweaters and scarves. If so, a summer session on the beach is probably not for you. If the opposite is true and summer fun-in-the-sun is what you live for, then it’s time to start thinking of all your favorite things to in the summer. Once you’ve narrowed down your time of year, you can really start to think about what it is that you love.
What do you enjoy doing? Where do you spend a lot of time? Chances are you have a place that really means a lot to you, or a place that holds a special memory. Do you have a passion that can be illustrated through your location choice? Do you have a talent, sport, or activity that is a big part of your life? Taking these things into consideration and incorporating them into your session can make all the difference. It’s easy to get photos that simply show what you look like. We want to do more than that; we want to create images that illustrate who you are right now.
So, you’ve decided on the season, you’ve thought about your favorite things to do, now what? Once you’ve come up with a few ideas on where, it’s time to think about the details. What do you want your images to FEEL like? Do you want them to be whimsical, edgy, classic, or some sort of unique combination?
You may have an idea of what you want, but it doesn’t fit in with what you think a typical senior portrait should look like. That’s perfectly okay. Ask us what we think, we'd love to be able to make it work for you. Remember, your portraits don’t have to be typical. Your portraits should be about you. Chose something that when you look back on the portraits years from now, you are transported briefly to this extraordinary time in your life.
So often we find ourselves putting things off for a better time. We wait to do all the wonderful things we’d love to do because we’re focused on all the things we have to do. “I can’t go on vacation because I have X-Y-Z to pay for…” “I’ll wait to do family photos until I lose the Chipotle weight I’ve put on this year.” You get the idea (that barbacoa is worth it though right?!) Most of us tend to deprive ourselves of experiences in lieu of more practical or less emotionally-taxing things. Thankfully, some of us have people in our lives to push us to step outside our comfortable space and seize the moments we have now. Let’s face it, we can’t predict tomorrow, so it is beyond important to make the most of today.
Without getting too in depth, my mom has many health issues that have been going on most of my life. She is very sick most of the time, but somehow she manages to push through the worst of days and work circles around the rest of us. She’s cared for many family members and friends in their time of need, three of them into their final days. No one I know gives more of herself than this woman. I can only hope to make a fraction of the impact that she has made in others' lives. She doesn’t think of herself as anything special, but anyone that knows her and has experienced her selflessness would agree with me. She’s amazing. I’ve always wanted to give her an experience she would never forget and take her to a place she’s never dreamed she’d ever get to go.
This year for my birthday my husband pushed me to do just that. When my husband gave this gift, insisting she be my travel companion, I came up with several reasons why it wouldn’t work and my Mom came up with several more. My husband would have none of it. We were going, and that was final. “Pick a place or I’ll pick it for you”.
It didn’t take much to chose our destination; we’ve both always had a special pull to Scotland. So, my mom and I planned and planned. Then, we went. For 12 days. And it was BREATHTAKING.
For the record, my mom is not a fan of photos of herself. As she gets older she’s even more reluctant to see herself on camera. I guess most women are the same way, but that’s something she knew she’d have to get over. Her daughter and travel companion being a photographer, she was really in for it. I got quite a few dirty “Again? With the camera?” looks along the way, but I was able to capture some images of my mom enjoying herself and even some of her firsts, like her first train ride!
Watching my mom experience a magical place and capturing it with my camera gave me a gift I could never replace. These moments, the ones we deny ourselves so often, are not to be measured by things we should have done instead, but rather by the memories we captured. I’m choosing to measure the worth of my memories by the feeling we got while laughing so hard our ribs hurt and of our cheeks being sore from smiling so much. We won’t look back on the photos and wish we’d curled our hair that day, reapplied lipstick or lost 10 more pounds before we went.
I could write for days about all of the incomparable places we saw, the food we ate and the people we met. Really, it was so wonderful that she and I both decided we want to move there immediately and never look back (with my kids and both our husbands, of course.) I could tell you all about the friends we made, the funny things we witnessed, the travel mishaps (near death one for her, embarrassing/mortifying one for me), and the beautiful weather we had. Those things really made our adventure wonderful, but what I really want to share with you, what I really took away from the entire thing, is that life is short. Don’t wait to make your dreams a reality. Don’t wait to create your memories. The opportunities may pass you by.
A week after we got home, one of my mom’s health conditions worsened. She’s now using a walker to get around. Had we waited, we may not have had the adventure of a lifetime. I can’t ever replace the memories we made together. The photos I have will always take me back to those moments. They will transport me to the places, smells and feelings of the precious time I shared with the phenomenal woman I call Mom. As cliché as it may be, what I got from all of this was to seize the day. Now is always a good time to make beautiful memories.
If you look around the internet these days, there’s been a recent proliferation of blog posts and
articles about why moms should ‘stay in the picture’. Since it's Mother's Day our team thought
it would be a perfect time for me to remind you all of something we've learned.
I used to be that absent mom missing from the picture, but no longer am. Either I was feeling too
chubby after the birth of our 2nd child, or feeling too frazzled and unable to find time to make myself
look presentable after the 3rd, but either way there are gaps in the photo albums where I don’t exist
for a variety of reasons. Those gaps make me sad now that I’m older. I’d love to have a photo of
the way my babies wrapped their little legs around my side and nuzzled into my neck when I
carried them around as I moved through my life. As much as I adore the photos of my children alone,
it’s the rare few of us together that so vividly remind me how their milky breath smelled and how their
soft cheeks felt when I held them close.
And another surprise, to me anyway: when I do look back on the few photos I find of myself from earlier days of motherhood, I no longer cringe at my appearance the way I did when the photos were first taken. Later motherhood me is so much kinder and more forgiving of early motherhood me than I ever thought she would be. The photos evoke feeling now instead of self-criticism. As it turns out, the photos aren’t really about me, anyway. They are about a relationship, between me and my children, which is the thing I value most in the world.
If I could make a recommendation to my friends and fellow moms, it would be to get in the picture, even if you can’t bear to look at those photos now without being hard on yourself. Future you will thank you for capturing the sweetness of the relationship you have with your children right at this moment. That relationship is changing all the time and will never be quitethe same again. Find some clothing that makes you feel good, and piece together outfits for your family. You won’t really care what the outfits are years from now, but a flattering outfit (and maybe a glass of wine!) will help you feel confident going into a photo session and help you do what you know you should: get in the picture more often.
To piece together a family of outfits, start with your own outfit first: choose something flattering and comfortable. In any photo session, it’s important to be able to move and interact with your children. Using your own outfit as a guide, determine the color palette for all of the outfits needed for your group. Try to coordinate colors but not to match everything exactly, adding pops of color and pattern for variety And accessorize! A fun scarf or statement necklace can add interest to an outfit for a woman, just as an adorable hat or pair of suspenders can add pop to a boy’s outfit. But most of, remember that when you (and your children) look at the photos years from now, what you will see is how much you loved each other and not your imperfections or even the awesome outfits you chose.
With Love this Mother's Day,
Growing older has never bothered me. At least, it hasn’t so far. I remember when I was about to turn 30 and I kept waiting for it to freak me out. It never did. Of course, that was the year I got married so maybe I was just so excited for the future, the number seemed inconsequential in comparison.
I had planned on writing out something really deep and profound, but the truth is, a 40th birthday isn’t that big of a deal. The way I see it, the older I get, the more great memories I have, the more friends I have made, the greater the vastness of my experiences and lessons learned. I feel I’m still at a point where life just keeps getting better. I still have so much to look forward to, while appreciating what my life has been so far. I will admit, however, that for the briefest moment this morning, I did have the gloomy thought of “Well, nobody can call me young anymore.” Then I realized that isn’t a bad thing. I don’t WANT to be young. I don’t want to go back to the days where I didn’t realize how confused I was, and and had to deal with girl drama, and worryied far too much about things that really didn’t matter. I rather enjoy the wisdom and peace that comes with age.
Not entirely unlike Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, each decade of my life has had a theme of sorts. Loosely speaking, my 30s were about marriage, motherhood and business. My 20s were about being in the Air Force, traveling, and developing deep friendships. My teens were about education and extracurricular activities (I had a LOT of both.) I’ve always been fully involved in life and I can’t wait to see where my 40s are going to take me.
In the meantime, I’m celebrating today. So far, I’ve slept in, went for the Venti at Starbucks, and now looking forward to mimosas and cupcakes with friends this afternoon, knocking off work early to hang out with the kids and then dinner out with the husband tonight. Life is good.
All images taken at our Yorktown studio. See behind the scenes from this session here.
A couple of months before my 40th birthday, I came up with the idea of documenting the occasion through a photo session. After all, the stages of our lives aren’t adequately portrayed in a single image of a person with a cake. A bit of an anomaly, I’m not uncomfortable in front of the camera, yet in all of the years of being a professional photographer, the only photos I have of myself were as part of family sessions (yes, I pay other pros to take our family photos) or trading a few headshots with a friend.
What I’ve come to learn in this business is that women are often critical about how they look in the present day, yet they look back at old photos and say “I was so pretty then. I wish I had realized it.”
I’m not immune to this. I have my little hang-ups, and overall I describe myself (in every area of life) as ‘superbly average.’ However, my work as a photographer, and particularly with women, helps me frame any negative thoughts in reality. That reality is... we are all fantastic, just the way we are, even if just superbly average. I wanted a series of photos of me, at this age and stage of my life, that I, and my family, could look back on someday. I wanted to look like me, the best version of me, and who I am. Plus, it sounded like fun.
So the day arrived for the session, and I somehow felt ill-prepared. I brought a few armloads of clothing, shoes and jewelry options with me to the studio. I quickly got into my element, though. We turned on music (we almost always have music on in the studio), started chatting, finalized our plan, and then started with makeup.
While Kim was doing her magic, Atlanta set about the studio setting everything up. She came in to check on us every once in awhile. Then it was time to shoot! It was honestly a lot of fun. We opened champagne, of course, because not only were we celebrating the occasion, we were having a great time doing it. Atlanta and Kim really made it easy on me.
That's all for today. I'll post the results of the session tomorrow, on my actual birthday.