As soon as I met Rae and her family, I knew her photo shoot would end up being a standout! Rae breezed into my office all smiles and energy, and she was ready to roll up her sleeves and participate in the entire planning process. I love that kind of participation from my clients because it helps me figure out what they like right off the bat!
The Perfect Venue for Rae’s Vintage Style
I picked up on her creativity from the get-go, and when she threw her initial idea out to me, I was excited to get started with research. Rae requested a ‘50s-themed photo shoot, which is one of the coolest things ever—but it does require some upfront recon work. It was an exciting prospect, because the theme she selected is one of my FAVES, and I couldn’t wait to check out what our area had to offer.
Milkshakes, Fries, Diners & Dives
There’s no way I would call this charming café a dive, but since it appeared on the popular Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and received a visit from Guy Fieri, it officially qualifies for the title! Thanks go out to Chase’s Diner in Chandler, Arizona, for allowing us to hang out for an extended period of time with outfit changes and camera equipment in tow. After spending a couple hours there, we can definitely attest to the DELICIOUSNESS that awaits when you visit. (If you make it past the pastry display, you’re a strong, strong person. None of us were strong. We were so, so weak. You’ll know why when you see the chocolate cake!)
Rockin’ Her ‘50s Style
Rae went all-out for her ‘50s-themed photo shoot, and when she showed up dressed to the nines from head to toe, I was bowled over! She was prepared, and it was clear she had been serious about the planning that went into her senior pictures. This gorgeous girl can pull of any look she wants to, and when it comes to jukebox jams and fifties fun, she walked into the diner ready to Rock Around the Clock!
Rae looked like she stepped right out of the fifties in her red dress with white polka dots. Her outfit perfectly complemented the diner’s décor, and all we needed was a milkshake!
The halter-style dress Rae chose highlighted her shoulders and brought the focus to her face, showing off her hair and makeup—which she’d done like an artist! A flared poodle-style skirt turned the dress into absolute perfection, and the only thing that made it better were the strappy red heels she paired to pull the entire look together.
I told you this girl can pull of any look, right?!
From Flirty ’50s to Vintage Va-Va-Voom
Before we wrapped up the shoot, Rae had one more surprise to add to the mix. Tapping into her sassy side, she pulled a red leather jacket and black leather pants from her bag. She stuck with the color theme, but when she emerged with this wardrobe change, she amped up the mood of her photos from “Flirty ’50s” to “Vintage va-va-voom!”
Deciding on a Theme
How do you land on a theme or a style for your senior pictures? Everyone is different, and it all depends on your personality! Look at other photo shoots for ideas, but lean into your interests when you plan your session.
That’s EXACTLY why I loved working with Rae. I could see her personality shining in every photo I took at Chase’s Diner. She was in her element, and we had such a blast stepping back in time for a few hours.
Super-Fun Thing to Know: This lovely girl graduated EARLY and plans to be a midwife. With her kindness, compassion, and smarts, she’ll have no trouble achieving every goal she sets for herself. I’m excited to hear about what she does next!
How do I know when a photo shoot is successful? When nerves turn to smiles…and even (gasp!) laughter!
You might be surprised to read this, but sometimes it’s difficult to get senior guys to relax and fall in love with the idea of a photo shoot. In fact, the idea of senior pictures often starts with Mom or Dad, and the young men go along to keep them happy.
But once everyone has decided senior pictures are a FANTASTIC idea, it’s my job to make sure that, by the end of a photo shoot, everyone is happy. (Don’t be surprised if you get a goofy mom joke thrown at you. Desperate times call for desperate measures, after all.)
Joy for the Future
I love working with graduating seniors for lots of reasons, and Cole epitomizes every one of them. He warmed up quickly to the camera, and it was amazing to see the excitement he has for the journey he is about to embark on. One of my very favorite things about my job is sharing just a little bit of that excitement and joy—and being able to capture those moments so they can share them with loved ones.
Finding the Magic
My goal is to set clients at ease, get them talking, and maybe even get a few laughs—because that’s when the real magic happens. When the nerves fall away, that’s when true personality makes its appearance, and that’s when I can capture photographs of the young adult everyone knows and loves. THOSE are the senior pictures that Mom, Dad, and the entire family are looking forward to!
The Zoolander Fear
We quickly zeroed in on Cole’s hobbies and interests, and he warmed up to the idea of a photo shoot that involved all the things he’s loved throughout his school years. He was also a fan of a photo shoot that would NOT involve people saying things like, “Work it.” or “Turn, turn, spin, snap!”
For many clients, the fiasco of a Zoolander fashion show may be the closest they can imagine to a photo shoot—and that is terrifying! I always reassure them that their photo shoot will be ALL ABOUT THEM and the things they love. A little bit of information and preplanning go a long way toward making grads feel comfortable in front of the camera.
Taking Basketball to the Streets
After learning one of Cole’s favorite pastimes is basketball, we didn’t waste any time finding a way to work his love of the sport in with his affinity for the downtown urban vibe he’d previously mentioned to me in our client meeting. The great thing about finding an awesome location is that you can usually get several shots there. Amazingly enough, every one of Cole’s basketball photos was taken between some generic downtown Chandler buildings, so we didn’t have to travel far to get them!
These are some of my favorites, too.
As we were headed to our next location, I caught this great image of Cole and his brother Wyatt together…in a parking lot!
On the Way to Success
Cole has big plans for his future. A 2021 graduate of Gilbert Classical Academy, he has his sights set on a career in the medical field and hopes to get into nursing school as he continues his studies. He’ll be attending Arizona State University, and I’m sure he’ll do everything he has planned and MORE! He is such a smart young man with so much support behind him that I know he’ll go far.
An adventurous spirit, he plans on going to Europe one day, and he’d love to have a nice car, too. Cole is such a diligent and hard worker, I’m sure he’ll reach all the goals he sets for himself!
If Cole could give a piece of advice to incoming freshmen, he said it would be to just take things one day at a time. With hard work and perseverance, they’ll get to the finish line.
Things are heating up here in Arizona, and now that graduation is over, you might find Cole chilling out and playing video games until it’s time to get geared up for college. He also enjoys swimming, which just might win out over basketball—at least until we get temps that are under 110 out here in the desert! He says his friends describe him as a relaxed and laid-back guy, and after working with him through the planning, photo shoot, and image selection process, I can say they’re definitely right.
One of my favorite fun-loving and easygoing clients, Cole was willing to try different poses and locations, and he ended up with a huge variety of images that his parents loved.
Bonus fact: He’s a triplet! And he was flexible enough to combine his photo preferences with those of his siblings to end up with a mega selection of photograph keepsakes their parents can enjoy forever. See the entire triplet photo shoot here!
How did we pull it off and make everyone happy with their photos? Great question!
When the Thompson family contacted me about a senior picture photo shoot for triplets Wyatt, Tally, and Cole, I was ready to grab my equipment and run out the door immediately. Not only is this one of the most amazing families—with a fantastic trio of kids—I was thrilled to have the opportunity to shoot senior pictures for three siblings at once!
Getting it Right…For All of Them
Planning a photo shoot for one graduate can be tricky. Every detail has to be right. Plus, I want to make sure everything is exactly the way my clients envisioned it. From wardrobe and location planning…to hair and makeup…to specific poses and times of day, there are a million decisions to be made.
Now, multiply that by THREE and you get a whole lot of crossing your fingers, holding your breath, and possibly even looking for four-leaf clovers in your free time.
But there was no need to worry about how well these sibs would work together. They each had their own brilliantly creative ideas, AND they had their own individual styles lined out and ready to share. They were on top of it and ready to roll!
A 2021 Gilbert Classical Academy grad, Wyatt is an energetic and driven basketball player with his eyes on the prize of one day working in college athletics. He plans on going to business school, and he would love to work with the school’s athletic department. Wyatt is proud of his accomplishments in basketball and the leadership skills he has gained from his years of hard work. He’d one day love to go to a Texas Longhorns / Oklahoma Sooners football game.
Make way for the artist! She graduated from Gilbert Classical Academy alongside her brothers and plans to attend NAU to major in Secondary Education or Art Education—or both. Creative with an affinity for urban style, she loves the art scene and would one day love to go to Florence, Italy, the birthplace of Renaissance art. Full of adventurous plans and innovative ideas, Tally admits she also just wants to start by spreading her wings and adulting well on her own. I have no doubt she will succeed in whatever she sets her mind to! Click here to read more about Tally’s photo shoot in Downtown Phoenix!
Also a 2021 Gilbert Classical Academy student, Cole plans to have a career in healthcare and is looking forward to attending college in Arizona. He’s a laid-back, fun-loving guy, and in his spare time, you might find him playing video games or basketball. He’s up for adventure but knows one of the most poignant parts of graduating is leaving high school friendships. Cole is looking forward to getting into nursing school in the future and to traveling to Europe one day!
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
So how did we make a triple photo shoot work so that everyone got the senior pictures of their dreams? It all goes back to a major belief I have about every client I work with: communication is key.
We did a lot of planning, and I really wanted to get to know each of the triplets before their sessions so I could make sure their personalities would shine in their photographs. Sure, they have a LOT in common, but these amazing kiddos are unique and individual, and they ALL have so much to share.
I knew we were going to need more than a single session to capture everything. After getting to know them and talking it over with the family, a plan formed pretty quickly. We did two complete photo shoots:
Downtown Phoenix: We chose a downtown location complete with modern images, artistic locations, urban backgrounds, and everything else that simply screamed ‘Tally!’ This was our artsy day, and it was full of paintbrushes, color…and boundless energy. See more of Tally’s photo shoot here.
Chandler: We chose a variety of locations in Chandler, including Downtown Chandler, that would appeal to both boys and their love of basketball—and we worked the timing so Tally could pop in for a while. This let me get shots of all the siblings together.
Believe it or not, we were able to get ALL the basketball photos the boys wanted (some of my absolute FAVES!) between just two buildings. And of course, we had to include a nod to their family tradition of grabbing a photo with Tally and Wyatt smashing Cole in between them. The family loved that image so much that they chose it as the cover for their 11 x 14 keepsake photo box, and I love it so much it gets its very own hashtag… #SibSmash!
Mom’s Fave Photo
Of course, Mom’s favorite senior picture always makes the cut, and this one features her three kiddos re-enacting a photo from their childhood. Walking side-by-side over the arched bridge together, Mom can now look back on how far her triplets have come—and on how much they have set their sights on accomplishing!
There’s no doubt in the world that Cole, Tally, and Wyatt will tackle everything they set their minds to—and then some! Congratulations to these amazing seniors. Part of what I love about my job is getting to know my clients and keeping in touch with their success as they move past high school and onto even bigger things. I can’t wait to hear what these three do next!
Make a Splash with Water Pictures: Showcase What They Love
It’s summertime in the desert, and the heat is on! What better time to showcase your love of all things water?!
Meet Alyse, 2021 graduate from Gilbert Classical Academy in Gilbert, Arizona. A valued member of the GCA swim team, Alyse also works as a lifeguard, plays a bit of basketball, loves to paint and take pictures with her Polaroid, and of course, she’s always up for a hangout with friends. After working with her, I’m convinced there’s nothing this girl can’t do!
With so much of her time spent around the water, it only made sense to begin our planning by incorporating water ideas into her photo shoot! So of course, we talked swimming and swim team, and we worked on ways to pull her team uniform into her pictures. She even went bold and decided for a shot of her team suit under her graduation gown. Talk about a fun and creative idea!
When Alyse and her family reached out to me about her graduation photos, I was excited to plan locations, outfits, and ideas to really highlight her high school years. It was all the more fun because of the excitement she brought to the planning process. Described as determined and funny by those who know her, this girl absolutely blew me away with her creativity and willingness to kick back and share a laugh.
Ready, Set, Shoot
Alyse was ALL IN from day one, and her energy and ideas added a ton of valuable insight that helped me find the perfect venues and backgrounds to suit her personality.
It’s great when clients have ideas about themes and locations they really love, because that helps me guide them in overall planning. When I know what you love, what inspires you, and what reflects YOUR personality, I can get us going in the right direction even faster!
Top Secret Uber-Confidential Water Photo Information
Yes, there is water in the desert, and we CAN find it for your senior pictures if you want a similar look. Before hitting water venues, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:
It gets slick out there—especially if you choose a natural location like a lake or river. I can fix a lot of things, but I can’t fix that. Water pics are beautiful but be prepared to tread cautiously and lightly to avoid a slip.
Bring some old shoes or a cheap pair of flip-flops. Don’t plan on wearing your super-chic and trendy booties for your water pictures. They’ll get muddy and mucky before you can say “Cheese!” Guaranteed. (Also, I will never ask you to say “Cheese.”)
Choose the right clothing for water. You’ll want something flowy that makes it look like you live among mermaids, BUT be careful to select outfits that aren’t too finicky about care—especially about getting wet. PRO TIP: Do not borrow your mom’s vintage silk scarf for this shot.
Bring a beach towel (or two). If you decide a flirty splash or a toe dip would make the perfect photo, you’ll definitely want a towel so you can dry off and move on to the next shot.
Go with the flow. If you end up making a bigger splash than you planned, just roll with it and have fun! Free-spirited Alyse took a bit more of a dip than she expected when she hit a slick spot—and let’s just say, she gracefully took a seat in a watery venue. What happened next? She made a splash, of course! And we captured unexpected, fantastic images. Sometimes, the unexpected turns into the awesome!
A Wardrobe That Wows
From team uniform to trendy casual to glam, Alyse had it together when she gathered her photo shoot wardrobe! The whole idea is to have fun with it and let the outfits you choose reflect YOU and your style. When you feel good about what you’re wearing, it will show in your movements and expressions—and that will carry over to your photos.
Every now and then, the camera decides it simply doesn’t like a certain style or outfit. Maybe it’s because of lighting or background or any number of other factors. This happened with an adorable dress that looked GREAT on Alyse in person—but in front of the camera, the angles were lost, leaving her fun and flowy dress looking shapeless and limp.
Funny enough, after trying on an outfit she was on the fence about—a rust-colored ensemble that suited her perfectly—Alyse looked like a supermodel in front of the camera! (Note from your professional photog: I’ll NEVER let anything make you look unflattering! You will look glam & gorgeous… guaranteed.)
As Alyse heads off to college in the fall, her mom will have a variety of photos to keep her company and remind her of her daughter’s high school days. With everything from keepsake photo boxes filled with double-sided images to a multi-image storyboard to a premier slideshow, Mom can keep Alyse close even when she’s off adulting and following her dreams.
I asked her what she would say to incoming freshmen if given the chance. Alyse said she would tell them to focus on grades because those are important—but not to lose sight of making memories, because that’s what you’ll really look back on after graduation.
Alyse is headed to college, and while she’s undecided on her specific major (weren’t we all!), her dream job is to be a cardiac surgeon. Whatever she chooses, with her determination, smarts, and drive to succeed, this girl will rule in her field!
I love to watch my clients grow into their future selves, and I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do next, Alyse. Keep smiling and working hard…I know you’ll make a splash wherever you go!