In case you live in the Tri-Valley and don't already know who Madi is, allow me to enlighten you. Madi is a level 10 gymnast, which I guess is one step before an Olympic level. When she was 14 Madi was offered a full ride to Oregon State, and since she did a verbal commit then, she's known where she was going to college since she was in 8th grade. Consider my mind boggled.
Now in order to make this all happen Madi, who goes to HS in Pleasanton, commutes to her gym in the peninsula 4 days a week and practices 5 hours per day. Pleasanton USD was kind enough to allow her a class schedule that lets her to head out a bit early for this.
So I knew all this about Madi before our photoshoot, and I was really wondering what a person would be like with that kind of drive and dedication. Was she going to stare me down with steely intensity? Was it going to be all about focus, details, minutes on the clock?
Not at all. Madi drove up with her mom, we talked about outfits, we talked about classes...apart from a few shots in her leos, Madi's senior session was just like anybody else. Actually, I take that back. Madi is both totally casual and pretty silly so her session included more peace signs than I typically take.
Madi's cap & gown mini in the spring is going to be awesome because we're trying to time it for when her sister Lacy is home to get the two of them together: Lacy is already on the gymnastics team at OSU and Madi is super excited to join her in the fall. I can't wait to see you two together!
Grant's photoshoot involved quite a lot of two things that I don't often get a ton of: 1) a huge variety of hilarious outtakes and 2) embarrassing stories about him as a kid as told by his mom throughout the photoshoot.
The best story was about Grant in 3rd grade. Apparently he had a tough teacher and a long patch of bad behavior in class. Finally his mom, Mindy, got to the point where when Grant got a good report home from the teacher she gave him a banana split....for breakfast. "There's worse things, than a banana split for breakfast, right? I mean, there's fruit in there at least" she concluded. I concur.
Grant is on the track team. His main event is the hurtles, but he'll probably also do the 4x400.
We were talking about flexibility because I wanted to have him sitting in some of the shots. He said that because it's the off-season he's not super flexible right now. But during the season they stretch for like 45 minutes a day (!) and he improves a ton.
Grant's dad was an FBI agent, so that begged the question. "Are you going to apply?" I asked? He answered with a resounding "No." He explained that when starting out you can actually make more money in the Livermore PD than as an FBI agent. And that it takes several years of rising through the ranks to finally make a decent salary. You also can't hold any other part time jobs while you work there in order to supplement your income. "They own you" is the consensus. Interesting.
Speaking of owning... Grant is the owner of a Cap & Gown mini session in the spring so I'll be posting more pictures of him then and we'll get to find out where he'll be next year. Can't wait to have you in front of my lens again Grant!
When I first asked Braxton what he was into he produced this crazy list that included about everything I could think of and ended with cliff jumping. So I was like, "water polo, fishing, wake boarding, baseball...cliff jumping. Right. Cliff jumping. Sure." And then lo, I was looking at his instagram and there was a picture of him...jumping off a cliff.
He really does do all these things. And he's actually into a whole lot more that he didn't even mention up front. For starters he is taking the photography class at Amador right now and he has his own photography page. I love getting all nerdy talking to seniors who are into photography and Braxton didn't disappoint. I can really appreciate the complete and utter despair that he suffered when his neg development process went awry and he lost a spectacular shot of two motorcycles that were both popping wheelies that he shot from on top of a bridge. I have so been there. Braxton also had several ideas to contribute to his own shoot involving his baseball glove, which were fantastic.
We talked about colleges a bit-- it is that time of year after all. He explained that he actually submitted 3 apps earlier that very day but had about 8 more to go. He's applying to schools mostly on the west coast but then threw out North Dakota. "North Dakota, huh?" I said. "For aviation," he explained. In addition to an interest in history, finance, and business, he's considering pursuing aviation. He actually has plans to start taking classes at the Livermore Airport next semester.
Braxton plays baseball for two different teams- AVHS during the normal season and a traveling team in based in Danville the rest of the time. He also manages to work as a lifeguard at the Pleasanton Valley Club in the summer, which meant that we knew a ton of people in common. It's such a small world.
Braxton, with all your diverse interests, I can't wait to see where you end up next year!
Can you imagine leaving California in 5th grade, moving to Kansas for the next 6 years, and then moving back at the start of your senior year of high school? Well that's what Kaylee did and all I could think of was how hard it would be to re-establish a group of friends but she just shrugged and said it wasn't a big deal.
When she got back in town she looked up her old friends from 5th grade and it turns out that they still hit it off. I found that oddly reassuring-- that peoples' personalities don't actually change that much from elementary school to the end of high school.
I also asked her if she found the people in California to be different from the people in Kansas and she said, "Not really." Also reassuring.
Speaking of reassuring, Kaylee's already been admitted to one university (yay ASU!) but she's still working on more applications including her dream school: Colorado State.
Kaylee already knows what she wants to study-- she is going to be a vet, and although Colorado State doesn't have a dedicated vet program for undergrads (most schools don't) she's already mapped out her animal sciences major. And back when she lived in Kansas she got a ton of experience in vet clinics helping getting animals ready for surgery.
She told me that she once put an IV into a llama! "Umm..." I said, "How do you do that, exactly? I mean, with all that fur, how do you even know where the veins are?" Somewhat cryptically she said, "there are ways." Since I am NOT a needle person, I left it at that.
Because a love of animals is a huge element in Kaylee's life she brought one of her dogs, Dany, to her portrait session. Dany was, at times, a reluctant doggie model but I think she did enjoy walking around the Arroyo and hanging out with us for part of the shoot.
Kaylee I can't wait to see you back for your cap & gown shoot in the spring, hopefully in a CSU shirt! Crossing fingers for ya!
My first contact with Tori was through Arianna-- she did Arianna's makeup for her senior portrait session and I was totally blown away by how amazingly perfect it was. Tori has a really good eye for color and also has a trait that I find in precious short supply in makeup artists, which is a light hand. She's good at creating a look that is polished with a bit of shimmer but totally not overdone. You notice that the person looks really nice and put together but their makeup isn't what jumps out at you, and I love that. So I had to ask...
Me: "How is it that you are so good at makeup?"
Tori: "Well I'm into art. And it's kind of like art..."
Me: "I'm 'kind of in into art' too (!) and I totally suck at makeup!"
So there you go. Interest/skills in various other arts do not translate to makeup. It's a whole other ballgame.
Tori is into art. I feel like this speaks volumes about her skill level: her mom wants her to sketch out a design for a tattoo. Let that sink in for a second...
In her current art class there was an assignment to focus on an issue important to you so she chose "acceptance." She drew a place where she felt free to be herself and the finished product moved her art teacher to tears. She claims that she wants to major in education but her mom is advocating for graphic design. Me too!
Tori is a cheerleader. So we took some shots with her letterman's jacket and poms. It turns out that at cheer competitions you have to have this certain face. I asked her to show it to me, thinking maybe this was something we could bring into her photoshoot. So she did it. Let me just say that what I will call "cheer face" is the look of unequivocal enthusiasm. It's not exactly the most, um, genuine of emotions. And actually, call me a total downer but I don't think I'm technically capable of making a cheer face.
I definitely prefer "regular face" in general and (although Tori's cheer face was pretty cute) I definitely prefer her regular face in particular!
Don't you hate it when you run your gels and the bands are all muddled and the data is crappy? Emma and I commiserated about gel electrophoresis, which is something she's doing in her biotech class. This totally blows my mind, by the way, because I didn't even know what a Western Blot was until I took genetics my sophomore year...of college. I can't believe you can even take a class called biotechnology in high school now. Amazing.
Emma does not love having pictures taken. That gives us another thing in common. Unlike me though, Emma has the most adorable dimples and she kept complaining that her dimple was getting tired. So during this shoot, whenever I needed to adjust my camera settings, I would say "relax your dimple."
Emma has the best schedule ever right now. Most of the week she's done with school by noon. On that other day she's done by 11:30am. Part of the reason for that is that she's doing a work study. She has a pretty sweet job: she's a waitress at a retirement community. Emma admitted that the job is challenging but she recently got a raise and is making decent money.
One crazy thing happened during this shoot when we were on this raised trait. I love this path- it's up high and gets great light at sunset. But you know who else likes this path? Lots of people. Especially people out walking their dogs. And that's totally fine except for the couple that walked towards us with their super friendly golden retriever who was soaking wet and off-leash. I asked them nicely to please keep the dog away from the photoshoot because I was really worried that it was going to shake all over Emma in her lovely white romper. And you know what they did? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. And of course the dog ran right up to us! So I got the dog by the collar and walked it around Emma so she would be out of the potential shake-zone. The folks, who we thereafter referred to as "the mean dog people" then spoke loudly about having the right to do whatever they want with their dog in a public park and kept walking. Astonishing.
Thankfully everything turned out just fine. We got our lovely sunset, Emma stayed perfectly dry, and all was well.
I am a high school senior portrait photographer in the SF east bay area.