"I created her," is what Lucy's mom Karen told me. She delivered this line completely deadpan after I showed her the back of the camera, in the middle of Lucy's shoot. Yes. Yes you did. Nice job!
Lucy is attending Chapman University in the fall. She wanted to incorporate some of her college gear in her shoot as well as some dressier and more casual looks.
Wind can be difficult to work with at photoshoots but sometimes you need to embrace it. I love the movement in her long hair...
Lucy has a shark tattoo on her back. "It's to remind me to constantly keep swimming," she explained. She also loves nature and exploration. Love. It.
Lucy, I hope you have an amazing time this summer exploring Europe and are rested and ready to rock it at college in the fall!
"I got this dress this morning," is how you can give your photographer a heart attack. Just don't tell me. I don't want to know. Let me think you've had this outfit ready to go for the last 3 weeks. But yeah, that's what Hailey admitted when I told her that I loved it. To everyone else: don't leave it to the last minute because you might not luck out like Hailey!
However, let the record stand that Hailey was the originator of the "accessories in individual baggies" planning epiphany. So when you get your two-day pre-shoot email from me with the last minute checklist of planning prep, and it talks about this, you have Hailey to thank!
During her planning call Hailey explained that she really wanted a rustic look for her shoot. She was going to wear neutrals. So instantly I knew that this farm and field would be perfect for her shoot.
"The photography opera!" is what her mom Micaelanne called it. And by "it" I mean me, and the happy noises I make when I'm excited about a shot. I was quite operatic at Hailey's shoot apparently. But seriously, how can you *not* get excited when you see a shot that you know will turn out like this?
While we were at this farm, in between takes, we managed to see baby goats, ducks, chickens... it was seriously like our own little mini petting zoo.
When we got the heck out of Dodge for the ultra rural part of the shoot the tall grasses were in their full spender. This meant two thing:
1. Hailey's sister, Rachael, would start throwing the little grass heads at Micaelanne's chest and, like a dart board, they would totally stick in her shirt.
2. I, in a moment of inspiration, would pick an adjacent bundle of wildflowers for Hailey to hold and, in doing so, manage to rip the dang things out by the roots. Here, hold this 3 foot tall bundle of stems with this clump of dirt! Pretty!
But it all worked out. Micaelanne made it out in one piece, I clipped the flowers down to a normal configuration, and Hailey got some lovely shots in the golden sunset.
"I broke my arm-- the same arm-- 4 times," said Kendra. The saga of how it happened each time, the metal plates, all the hospital visits...did not sound like fun. So imagine my surprise when Kendra explained that she wants to go to medical school.⠀
"I just really find it all interesting," she said. I love the fact that Kendra was able to take what most people would consider pretty crummy experiences and channel them towards a bright future.⠀
Speaking of future..."I was soooo worried that she wasn't going to do a good smile in her pictures!" Kendra's mom admitted to me when they came to pick up their artwork. ⠀
Which was surprising to me, because Kendra's smile was totally natural in all the pictures from her senior session!⠀But this comment was based on a pretty extensive history of Kendra doing either cheesy or grimacing smiles. But no worries here! Obviously somewhere along the way she figured it out.
Something else she figured out? Bringing along a concealer stick to use on her legs!! ("I read your post about how most people have random bruises on their legs and don't even realize it and already *knew* that I had some from diving!") So yeah, there was a little bit of leg touching up going on. Which was AWESOME.
I honestly think that all the careful prep that Kendra put into her session is an excellent indicator of her impending success in the pre-med track at Baylor! Keep it up Kendra!
"I thought about being a hand model," Ashley mentioned off-hand. (Off-hand...heh heh). ⠀
This finally came out after I mentioned over and over how incredibly elegant Ashley's hands were. I probably came across as some total weirdo because, really, who spends that much time thinking about hands?
What gives? Well after the eyes, the hands are the most expressive features that we have. If they look stiff and awkward then YOU look stiff and awkward. ⠀
It's crazy but hands can make or break a shot.
But back to Ashley. Girl, if you have any free time while pursuing that bio major at UW, I really do think you could give this hand modeling thing a shot! You're a total natural! ⠀
Speaking of natural, I was talking with Ashely's mom, Liz, about how she would like to display the artwork from Ashley's photoshoot and she told me the craziest story. On the topic of matching artwork to your home's decor...she has this friend who is an interior decorator, who not only matches artwork to her decor, but also matches...her dogs. She actually chose dog breeds and colors to match her interior. Crazy? Or brilliant?!??! If you were in the market for a new pet, would you consider this!??!?
Taylor, captain of the varsity basketball team and also captain of the varsity stunt team, is one of the busiest seniors that I've come across. So it's pretty much a miracle that we found time for her to do senior pictures. But thank goodness we did because it was a blast.
Upon arrival she emerged from the car fresh as a daisy in an adorable yellow party dress and... a pair of Ugg slippers. Which was smart. It was kind of chilly and we did need to walk a bit from the parking lot over to where I wanted to take pictures. Note: feel free to bring comfy shoes and change into the cute ones at the last minute! This isn't prom- you don't need to torture yourself in heels the entire time!
So we got to the spot. "Hop into that drainage ditch over there!" I direct, with enthusiasm. The drainage ditch? "Yes! That drainage ditch!" Up for anything, Taylor found the spot, her mom Andrea got the reflector just right and we started shooting up a storm.
Some rather gallant passers-by asked us if we needed some help. Like as if we were looking for something, maybe? But doing so by having Taylor sit really still and not look at the ground? Funny!
Not so funny was the extremely near miss with a bird perched just above Taylor's head. We decided to just completely ignore the fact that poop just fell from the sky, mere inches away and just continue on our way.
Taylor is in the enviable position of already knowing all of her roommates at the University of Alabama. They are actually from all over the country so she'll have people to stay with in plenty of cities after freshman year.
She plans to rush so sophomore year she'll probably be living with some of her sorority sisters. Naturally, we did some headshots for rush recruitment.
Taylor, I wish you an amazing time traveling around Italy this summer and at school in the fall. Roll Tide!
"What do you think about this one?" Morgan texted. She attached an image of this gorgeous white off the shoulder dress. Um....YES! Luckily, she happens to work at the Ella J. boutique in Danville where they sell it and was able to put a size small on hold for herself, stat.
This turned out to be incredibly fortunate because, as Morgan's mom Deanna explained, they had just redecorated their house in a farm house style and needed artwork for the walls.
This dress, in this spot, just called out for a canvas...
But it was hard to pick...
Anyways, Morgan won't be there at the farm house for much longer because she's headed off to UW in the fall.
In high school she got an AP scholar award, scholar athlete award, and academic awards each year on top of being cheer captain and working as a swim coach senior year. Maybe UW will actually be a break for Morgan!
Speaking of break, after graduation Morgan was heading off to Newport beach where she was renting a beach house with 8 other girls from San Ramon Valley High.
Sounds like the perfect way to kick off senior summer!
Abriana is one of those amazing athletes that got to enjoy an entire senior year free of the stress of college acceptance. And I'd love to say "Lucky!!" except that luck had very little to do with it.
What did have something to do with it are grit and determination, both of which came in handy on this shoot. Abriana braved through rain and pretty chilly temperatures to pull off these beautiful shots.
Abriana has been team captain for her swim team for both junior and senior year because, well, she's just that kind of person. The younger swimmers (the "littles") call her "Mom" which, naturally, her own mom finds pretty amusing.
This was at the tail end of the shoot, the chilliest part before heading home. "I want to go to Starbucks and get a hot cocoa," Abriana said, "...and put my hands in it!" Cracked. Me. Up. Abriana, I had a fabulous time with you. Hopefully we'll find a time in between spring meets to shoot a cap & gown mini session but if not have a fabulous time down in LA next year!!!
Did you know that 17 year olds can fly planes...solo? Yeah, me neither...before I met Dylan that is. "Was is scary going up all by yourself the first time?" I asked him. "Not really," he said. "It's a pretty standard flight path you take for that first solo. What IS scary though is when you do a forced downward spiral." Gulp. Yeah, I bet.
So it turns out that, just like the standard parallel park for a driving test, the forced downward spiral is something that you have to prove you can deal with as part of your pilot testing. You better be a pretty calm person in general before taking this on. "Unflappable" is how Dylan's mom describes him. I'm onboard with that one, and let me tell you why...
In addition to proving that he could deal with the downward spiral, Dylan also dealt with an ample amount of heckling during his shoot. Dylan's uncle, the owner of this lovely plane, was around for the shoot and just so happened to be playing the theme song of Top Gun-- Highway to the Danger Zone-- on his phone pretty much the entire time. Actually...it was kind of awesome. Was Dylan phased? Not one iota.
Not surprisingly, Dylan is interested in pursuing aeronautic engineering. ("He wants to be an astronaut," his mom said. To which I replied, "Don't we all?" But, um, he's actually working on it.) He's already been admitted to Purdue, but is still waiting on a few other schools.
Before Dylan's photoshoot I had never been to the Livermore Airport. I've driven past it a million times, but never pulled in and actually walked around. There were several surprises. First, I was totally floored by the fact that you can literally just walk right onto the runway. No checkpoints, no gates. You don't have to take your shoes off- heck, you don't even have to sign in anywhere. Second, it turns out that there are actually a TON of great places to take pictures!
Thanks so much Dylan for introducing me to this fantastic location! I can't wait to see you soon for your Cap & Gown mini session and find out where you'll be next year!
When we were planning her photoshoot Bella mentioned to me that she would love to incorporate flowers. This presented a bit of a challenge, given that it was early November, but I suggested that we start out at Alden Lane Nursery because they pretty much always have something in bloom. I love shooting at Alden Lane; the people there are *so nice.* They always tell me that I'm free to move anything around for the shot, and go out their way to accommodate photography. Sure enough, for Bella's photoshoot they had plenty of flowers and were crazy nice, as always.
This trimester Bella is taking a sci fi lit class where they not only get to read the Hobbit but also get to watch all the Star Wars movies. "It must be really hard to get into that class!" I exclaimed. "I mean, wouldn't everybody want to take it?" But she said she just signed up for it, no problem. One of her other classes is an internship at Kaiser, which sounds pretty perfect since she intends to major in nursing at Ole Miss.
After a bit at Alden Lane we headed over to Shadow Cliffs to catch the sunset.
Between her four classes she's done with school at 2pm (sweet!). But Bella's still pretty busy; she works at Bent Creek Winery helping out with the back room stuff and she also leads a bible study group for 7th grade girls at Cornerstone Fellowship.
During her free time Bella plays the guitar and and enjoys reading and writing poetry. I'm so happy that she brought her guitar to her photoshoot-- I feel like the images of her playing really capture the heart of who she is.
I'm so excited to see you in the spring, Bella, with all of your Ole Miss stuff for your mini shoot! It's going to be a ton of fun!
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.