Meet Sayler, Class of 2018. She looks fresh as the morning dew here, am I right? What would you say if I told you that it was actually *97 degrees* when we took this shot in full sun? I would say that Saylor is amazingly impervious to heat! Her mom and I were juggling water bottles and misters and doing everything we could to just function. Sayler, meanwhile, was totally fine.
If you get to know Sayler you'll find that she has a deceptively sweet sounding voice. Don't get me wrong, she actually *is* incredibly sweet and I loved every minute I spent with her! What I mean by deceptive is that she is, in fact, a decisive person and knows what she wants --which I love-- but not necessarily what you'd expect after just casually chatting with her for a few minutes. I actually think that this contrast is going to serve her really well in life. Kind of like that old adage that you can catch more flies with honey...She has this honey-voice, but is definitely a catcher.
Sayler's an athlete -- she plays soccer and lacrosse -- and she's got some battle scars to prove it. But when the possibility came up of whisking them away with photoshop she said, "Leave them in." Love it! And I'm not just saying that because it's less work for me; I'm saying that because I love that Sayler sees them as a part of herself, part of a memory, an experience, and not something to try to hide or erase. It's so incredibly powerful to take a part of you that others might perceive as a "flaw" and valuing it as something that makes you unique.
Sayler's in the midst of college applications right now: one down, several more to go. She's mostly applying to schools in Oregon and Colorado. When I asked about writing personal statements she mentioned that all the schools she's applying to this year have writing prompts on heavy topics. And I do mean heavy. But she does have experiences to draw on and it sounded like her writing samples are going to knock it out of the park.
Sayler, you did an amazing job at your senior portrait session. I can't wait to catch up with you in the spring for your Cap & Gown shoot and find out where you will be next year!
We headed out to a dock by her house at sunset, captured some headshots, and played around on the beach until the light ran out. Middle school can be such a challenging time in a person's life- socially, emotionally and academically. With tween photoshoots my goal is to make your daughter feel beautiful, confident, and ready to take on the world as she transitions to high school.
I was going to title this post "Death, Garbage, and Inappropriate Jokes" but Jordynn's gallery is so lovely I just couldn't bring myself to do it. So first I'll tell you a little bit about Jordynn and then I'll get to all that other crazy stuff.
Jordynn already knows that she wants to get her teaching credential. During her senior year she is student teaching in a second grade classroom at Alisal Elementary. But here's the best part: she's student teaching... with the same teacher that she HAD for second grade at Alisal. How awesome is that?
So during her session we took smiling Jordynn shots and serious Jordynn shots. I asked her to do my "big fake laugh" and can report that Jordynn has the worst fake laugh ever. I would say "Ok, go!" and she would give the weakest little "heh heh." But then I would call her out on it and she'd start laughing for real. Her real laugh is *fantastic*.
We lucked out during her shoot because it started off overcast and then the sun came out. Best of both worlds, really.
Towards the end of the shoot I asked Jordynn if she'd be willing to forge across to the opposite side of the nearby stream for the last location. She donned a pair of random pedicure flip flops her mom had from the car, which promptly ripped apart in the water, and then proceeded barefoot up the bank.
I dragged over a log for her to sit on and we started shooting. It turned out there was a can of Modelo in the frame so to spare myself the time in photoshop I did a little "real life" edit. (Note to self: buy more hand sanitizer for the camera bag.) The scene was beautiful. The scene was perfect. Well, I thought it was until I glanced to my left...
Not 5 feet away from me was the well rotted carcass of a mid-sized mammal. I quickly looked back at Jordynn hoping that she hadn't followed my gaze. She had. "What is THAT?" she asked. I took a deep breath, which at that point started to smell, nodded slowly, and said, "You look stunning right now." And we kept on shooting.
I'm fairly confident it was a raccoon. But you know what? Jordynn kept right on going like it wasn't even there. I was so impressed.
On the walk back to the car I found out that Jordynn's mom, Chris, is an agricultural inspector so I asked her about those tall golden grasses that I'm always working with. I've always wondered what they were. She wasn't sure then, but she remembered this conversation at Jordynn's gallery reveal and there she looked it up.
Wild Oats. Yes, that's right. I couldn't help myself, "Wild Oats?!?!?" I exclaimed, "as in "sow your wild oats??" Ha! I actually get this question fairly often, so the next time someone asks me if I happen to know what that plant is I'm going to have a really hard time not cracking up.
At any rate, Jordynn: it was an honor and a pleasure to photograph your senior portrait. Thanks for the adventure and I can't wait to see what happens during your Cap & Gown mini session in the spring!!!!
Meet Megan, University of Oregon class of 2021. Megan's mom reached out to me to see if I could schedule a shoot with Megan before she left for school; we managed to pick a blazing hot evening for the session but the golden hour turned out to be *magic*.
Megan's session was absolutely packed with meaning, which I love. The location was one where she and her mom often go for walks together. She was also wearing a necklace that she got for her 16th birthday, and an engraved bracelet from graduation.
Being in the midst of planning her dorm room decor, when Megan came to her gallery reveal session one of the first things that she noticed was my throw pillows. That's a first! Discussing her color palette of pinks and neutrals brought back all the excitement that I remember having in getting my own dorm room ready.
Megan is currently undeclared but she's taking a class in sociology and in education this fall and leaning towards an education major.
I'm so glad that I got the opportunity to capture this moment in time with Megan. This entire session was about the transition from high school to college; that inflection point between enjoying the familiarity of home to diving into the energizing newness of a big move out of state and into the rest of her adult life. Megan, I wish you all the best and I hope you have an amazing intro week!
Marissa is, quite possibly, the most disciplined and conscientious person I know. Not only is she vegan, but she also makes sure that the clothes she buys are ethically sourced and the products she uses are cruelty-free. Because of Marissa I now have connections with local makeup artists who use exclusively organic products.
Marissa cares very strongly about animal welfare but she's not just talk; she volunteers at Valley Humane Society taking care of cats and kittens.
She's also a member of a on-campus group called SAIC that gives a voice to students and strives to make positive changes at the high school.
Marissa went to a summer camp that focused on teaching teens how to become activists in their communities. I love that she brought this t-shirt to her session because I feel like it's a true reflection of who she is.
I'm so glad that I got to meet Marissa because it reminded me how my every day purchasing decisions can actually have an impact toward positive change.
I love shooting in downtown Livermore. There are so many interesting walls and fences and little nooks and crannies; it's possible to get tons of variety of imagery within a very small walkable radius. And every time I go I discover something new. This photoshoot started out at one of my favorite spots which features a highly unusual *turquoise* (swoon!) brick wall. I wanted to begin there because my model brand rep, Adelle, happens to have blue eyes and I thought this wall would really make them pop. Sure did!
Her eyes really are this color. No photoshop magic here, I swear. Adelle has this great collection of glasses so I asked her to bring some along. I've heard this particular style referred to as "1980s serial killer" glasses. Funny, right?
After the brick wall I thought it would be a good time to hit up some graffiti. (Attention taggers of Livermore: can you please up your game? I like your color palette, but please can you work on your hand lettering?) Anyways, luckily for us the graffiti was right next to some corrugated metal. Location GOLDMINE!
This next spot was a total fluke. The third place I wanted to try wasn't going to work because of the light at that time of day so I thought "let's just go find an abandoned lot." So we found one and walked across it, and low and behold was this sign... "Purity Cleaners". OMG. I literally was speechless, dumbstruck by our luck.
The other side of the lot had a few trees and and abandoned trailer. Score!
A little behind the scenes here with a reflector...
Select dates in November are still available for senior portraits. Book now in order to reserve your sunset session.
I am a high school senior portrait photographer in the SF east bay area.