As a senior portrait photographer, I’m constantly tuned in to the location station! Whether I’m out running errands or hanging out with friends, you can bet I’m scouting for everything from dry creek beds to trees with character to unsuspecting ditches with enough pizazz to pull off an incredible photo background.
You’d be surprised at the number of brick walls and sandy washes full of desert scrub brush I’ve encountered and morphed into fave picture spots with just a little flick of my magic wand. When most people see dust and dead plants, I look for nuggets of beauty in our landscape that I can incorporate into senior photos. I’m on the lookout for the few tiny flowers that thrive in our dry climate, the bits of green, the wildlife, the places to play—and I find a way to pair them with individual client styles and personalities to create cherished photo keepsakes.
No Stress, Just Smile
Bri and her family didn’t have a ton of time to dedicate to an hours-long photo shoot. (Understandable! You guys are busy during your senior year, right?) So I immediately knew we needed to find a really great place where we could capture a wide range of photos without having to add a lot of travel time to our schedule. We needed diversity, natural settings, and fantastic backdrops—preferably all within walking distance of each other. In fact, this worked so well, I’ve added this location for a new 1-hour GOLD senior portrait session for the Class of 2022!
Sound like a tall order? Wait until you see Bri’s amazing senior portraits! You’ll think we spent an entire day and traveled everywhere under the sun to get them!
Natural Photos, Natural Look
I love the fact that Bri had an instinctive knack for styling. Her fashion sense and style immediately told her to go for a lovely natural look since we were going to be shooting several of her photos in settings with natural desert backgrounds. Her loose, wavy hair accentuates her face, which is brightened and highlighted with light makeup—a winning look that highlights her beauty!
A quick outfit change took Bri from casual denim to a chic daytime black jegging paired with stylish black booties and a crop top tied at the waist. A true pro at pulling off breathtaking looks, she knows how to pull together an outfit that is perfect for her!
Of course, we always get a little playful on photo shoots, and those who know me well shouldn’t be surprised to see things like grads who are upside-down on park benches! Why? Because having FUN always brings out the true and most relaxed personalities of my clients—and that’s exactly what I want them to be able to show off in their senior pictures.
Enchanting by the Water
Remember that whole thing about needing an amazing photo spot that had EVERYTHING? We found it! In a blink, we were waterside and ready to start shooting again.
Bri was prepared for photos beside the water with a couple of lovely strappy and flowy dresses that added that perfect casual-dressy touch to the moment. With her strappy polka-dot dress, her black booties take on a completely different personality and stand out as a bold accessory choice. Notice that for these natural waterside photos, Bri opted for minimal jewelry and accessories, letting the focus fall solely on her and her choice of location.
Is She a Mermaid?
Looking ethereal and magical sitting on a rock in the water, Bri is right at home. For this portrait, she opted for a strappy-back white mini dress with bare feet. The placement of the sun as it begins to go down adds an enchanting element, and it’s pretty easy to believe this girl belongs right there beside the water.
Adding Pretty to the Desert
Want to know how to jazz up the desert? How to add glam to the sand, how to dress up the scorpions? JUST KIDDING! No scorpions were harmed in—or invited to—this photo shoot!
But I will give you some top-secret information. If you want to add some gorgeous scenery to your desert photos, simply add a lovely graduate who’s dressed to the nines and glowing with excitement at her accomplishments! I absolutely adore the way Bri stands apart from the scenery in her pretty dress and graduation gear in these photos. You can see how she’s simply beaming as she shows off her 2021 tassel!
You Glow, Girl
As the sun dropped in the sky, Bri pulled out one more outfit. As soon as I saw her rust-colored skirt, I knew the perfect spot to highlight her entire look and make her look like a superstar. Sunglasses and a floppy hat topped off her look, and a couple casual leans against this vibrant wall pulled in the end-of-day sun to create stunning images. Not only is her outfit flattering and stylish, but the artistic play of light and shadow truly gives this client something special to share with her family.
Ambitious & On Her Way
A 2021 graduate from Desert Ridge High School in Mesa, Arizona, Bri is looking forward to continuing her education to become a dental hygienist. She’s a fun, hardworking girl and loves to hang out with friends and family. She even has a trip to England on her bucket list so she can visit family there!
She’s proud of her biggest accomplishments—graduating from high school and getting into East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) to study for her future career.
Her goals are to simply enjoy life and not rush things. Asked to leave behind a piece of advice for future freshmen, Bri says to have fun and avoid drama, because it’s toxic. (I knew this girl was smart!)
She’s off to do incredible things, and I can’t wait to hear what’s next for her!
Center Stage: A Musician, a Dancer & The Senior Pictures of Her Dreams
When a client comes in for a consultation and already knows they want the ULTIMATE senior portrait package, I immediately go into all-out planning mode! I do this for every photo session, but for Ultimate sessions, it takes a little more time and energy, simply because of the time that will be invested—as well as the outfit and venue changes that will be involved. There’s more moving around, which means even more creativity and more outside-the-box ideas to make sure we don’t duplicate a single pose.
I’ll admit I had some insider knowledge about Mavery’s senior pictures because this girl has been hanging around my house for about as long as I can remember! She’s besties with my daughter, and that means I’ve had lots of time to chat with her about what she was thinking about her graduation photos.
Let me just say this…I’ve had a few clients that made me feel like I could keep clicking and getting shots all day and all night—and Mavery is one of them! She has a captivating smile, a multi-faceted personality that shines both when she’s smiling and when she’s serious, and she’s a standout in casual AND dressy outfits. When I heard her ideas and saw her adorable outfits, I knew we had a gazillion photo options! It was going to come down to how much energy we both had, and trust me, neither of us was aiming for a short photo shoot!
Any Outfit, Any Place
Mavery can pull off absolutely any look, and we started our day in a nice, casual location at San Tan. She stole the show in a breezy floral jumper and low, strappy heels. Her long, red hair perfectly complemented the combination of blues she chose in her outfit, too! She even topped this look off with a floppy-brimmed hat in a few photos for a jaunty vacay vibe.
Ladies, if you love jumpers and feel comfortable pulling off this look, it’s definitely senior-portrait-worthy! Jumpers are flattering and tend to photograph well. Plus, they make an easy all-in-one outfit you don’t have to worry about pulling together. Simply accessorize…and BOOM…you’re photo shoot ready!
Notice Mavery’s expressions in all of these images. She’s carefree and smiling. That’s because we took our time getting warmed up, chatting, and even having a few laughs before jumping right into posing. I do this for all my clients because I think it helps them feel more comfortable in front of the camera if we have a good rapport before I just start clicking!
I Scream, You Scream
We all scream for ice cream! Whenever there’s a chance to add a sweet treat to a photo shoot, I go for it. Why? First of all, who doesn’t love sweets? Plus, it gives clients chance to take a quick break. And during that break, I often get the chance to capture candid, fun-loving moments of clients as they kick back and have a little fun. Talk about authentic smiles!
No Hat Tricks Here
Why do I love hats? So many reasons! But some of my favorites are the way that hats can add so much texture, dimension, and style—and all you have to do is pair one with a lovely outfit and pop it on your head to get a completely different and updated look.
I had to get a close-up of Mavery’s hazel green eyes and the way the light captured their glow under the wide brim of a sun hat. The hat perfectly framed her face and ended up being the perfect backdrop for her natural makeup, wavy hair, and dreamy gaze.
Capturing Talent & Passion
Mavery has a ton of talent, and I wanted to make sure we captured a variety of her skills in her photo collection. From dancing to playing the ukulele, you name it and this girl can pretty much do it all!
An outfit and location change took us to a waterside location, which was perfect to display her artistic abilities. Her lovely flowery dress perfectly complemented the local scenery, and Mavery looked like she was putting on an enchanted concert when we got to the photos of her with her ukulele.
A dancer at heart, Mavery’s graceful dance moves were also on display beside the water. A change to pointe shoes made things official, and she made it look effortless to extend into her long, graceful lines.
The fun thing about the transition between these photos is that there wasn’t much of a wardrobe change required. A simple change of shoes had Mavery going from musician to ballerina in mere minutes, and in the end, she’ll get to show off more of what she loves in her senior photos.
Don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers during your photo shoot! This is no time to be stressed. Instead, relax and enjoy all the little moments that present themselves. You never know when you’ll stumble across some natural beauty that will add to your graduation pictures in pretty and unexpected ways.
PRO TIP: If you’re here in the desert and you ABSOLUTELY know you want flowers in your photos, it’s a good idea to plan ahead! Think about the blooms you want and consider grabbing a fresh bouquet from your local florist, just in case everything is a little more sandy than…er…bloomy. (We desert-dwellers know that can happen!)
I love Mavery’s bouquet photo because it shows off the absolute perfection of her eye makeup! Seriously, zoom in! It’s a beautifully shaded ombré—slightly darker than she would wear for everyday, because through the camera lens, makeup looks lighter. Her brows are meticulously done, as are her nails, and her lips have the slightest hint of colored gloss. Ladies, this is an AMAZING look when you’re shooting natural photos! In this image, Mavery is the star of the show…exactly as she should be!
It’s a Wrap
Nighttime photos give clients a chance to show an entirely different side to their personalities, and Mavery went all-out! When the sun went down, she opted for casual chic in a faded denim jacket over a white tee—which she wore to perfection! A quick tousle of the hair let me capture a fun-loving, kick-back moment and a super-natural smile that reflects Mavery’s lighthearted and lovable personality.
A 2021 graduate of Desert Ridge High School in Mesa, AZ, Mavery is planning to study to become a veterinarian in college. In her free time, you’ll probably find her hanging out with her friends or watching some of her favorite shows like Big Bang Theory and Disney/Pixar movies. Some of her favorite books are To Kill a Mockingbird, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Book Thief…and so many more!
This bright and beautiful girl is going places, and I can’t wait to see where her next amazing adventure takes her!