Value Over Cost: Senior Pictures Are All About the Memories
Price is often one of the first things many of us focus on when thinking about professional photography sessions, and that’s natural. Heck, right now everything seems to be getting more expensive, so it’s only smart to know beforehand what you’re investing in.
The keyword I used above is investing. I’m pretty much a pro at justifying purchases, but I can list a whole lot of things I spend money on that don’t qualify as investments. Somehow, my daily Starbucks fix, random Target runs, and fall flea market binges don’t seem like justifiable life investments! (Don’t tell my husband though. I finally convinced him that the vintage refurbed light fixture I purchased a couple weeks ago was a necessary investment.)
A Parent’s Perspective
I’m today’s guest blogger, writer by day, and mom 24/7 to 5 kids, Janelle Stahl. Also known as Marissa’s Mom. I’ll take you behind the scenes and tell you exactly why I’m so glad we didn’t use a cheap photographer, but chose instead to have our daughter’s senior portraits with Magical Memories by Michelle. This is my sweet girl, Marissa, Class of 2020 from Red Mountain High School.
The Real Investment
Think of all the years you’ve spent supporting your kiddo as they’ve grown up…all the miles you’ve driven to practices, all the games you’ve cheered at, all the events you’ve stretched from the back row to try to catch a glimpse of their growing stardom. Your soon-to-be-grad has put in TONS of time and effort to become the amazing young human they are now, and as parents we get one shot to capture every one of their talents, hard work, and achievements together in a single professional photo package.
When I thought about it that way and put it into perspective, I knew the investment in professional photos was worth it before I could even blink!
Planning, Prepping & Paying: The Lowdown
I’ll tell you all about our experience, and you can decide for yourself.
Was our photographer more expensive than other photographers? Yup. But did I want another round of cookie-cutter $9.95 studio photos with my kid’s hands clasped together under her chin as she made creepy eye contact with the camera? No way.
You’ll find photographers who are more expensive and some who are less expensive, but nothing—and I mean NOTHING—is better than word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals from people who have had excellent experiences with the professional you’re about to hire. That’s one of the main reasons we went with Magical Memories by Michelle.
From day one, Michelle was focused on building a relationship with our family, especially our daughter. Her goal was to make sure she felt comfortable and got the senior pictures of her dreams. And trust me, now that our little bird has left the nest and flown out of state to college, the lovely photos we have hanging around our house and the keepsake box full of heirloom images are comforts to us as we wait for her next visit home!
But Was It Worth It?
I’ll admit it…we spent more than we originally thought we would. Before the photo shoot, we had this thought that it would be easy-peasy to choose our favorite few photos, throw them into a collection, and call it a day. Let me just warn you now that the portrait selection process will be THE single most difficult task you’ll face throughout the entire senior portrait process.
Why? Because every image you’ll be shown will be amazing, and you’ll have the task of narrowing down your favorites from a field of a gazillion fabulous choices. The struggle is real!
We spent EXACTLY what we were quoted for the photo shoot, and Michelle’s work was impeccable. The “problem” came in when Marissa’s proud parents decided to purchase everything but the kitchen sink when it came to keepsake images! Are we glad we did it? Absolutely!
The One Thing All Moms Do
I’m one of those moms. For my first kiddo, I have a Sears Portrait package dating back all the way to 1994, in 6-month increments—all stored neatly in a plastic tote to protect them from humidity. The second kiddo has her fair share of portraits, too, all stored in the same tote. It gets a little skimpier for the kids after that. The days start to fly by, things get busy, and before you know it those staged studio sessions grow fewer and further between. I also faithfully purchased the school portrait packages, twice per year, per kid. (By now, I’m pretty sure I could have purchased a yacht. Ok, well at least a really nice boat.) Care to guess where those pics are stored? Yup, in the plastic tote.
Why the Tote?
Because those pre-planned packages come with approximately 50 of the same image of your child making the same face, with their head tilted at the same awkward angle. If you’re lucky, the school pics happened BEFORE recess. Otherwise, you’re also the proud owner of a lot of pictures of sweaty, dirt-streaked children with hair that you didn’t even know could defy gravity like that. These pictures are in the tote because there are only so many people you can gift them to on Christmas, Hanukkah, Mother’s Day, and Groundhog Day. (Yes, when you have that many of the same image, you become a very creative gifter.)
And Then Life Happens
The years have a funny way of zipping past us in a blink, and before we know it, that little boy we stuffed into a snap-bottom sailor suit for baby pictures has graduated trade school. The red-head who dressed up as Ariel has gotten married. And the next one is getting ready to graduate. You reminisce and realize that eventually all your studio photographs were replaced by in-the-moment snapshots, often blurry, sometimes unrecognizable, but full of memories. This was me as Graduation 2020 approached and I proudly watched another kiddo prepare to graduate. This would be the first one to leave home to go to college though. She’d be going out of state, flying the coop. Maybe it was an early case of homesickness in reverse. Or a minor mid-life crisis. Or potentially even a feeling of mom-guilt at having realized there was a substantial lack of photographs to document the most recent years. Whatever it was, when the topic of senior pictures came up, I was ALL IN!
Let’s Call the Portrait Studio
Thank goodness for friends, luck, and being in the right place at the right time. You see, I had the good fortune of mentioning this topic in the presence of Michelle—yup, the very Magical Memories one. She told me what she does, how she loves to work with seniors for their portraits, and how she really differentiates every photo session and focuses on building self-esteem and confidence. She laughed at the perplexed look on my face. “Yeah, I missed all that at Sears and Walmart,” I told her. I was intrigued, and I’m not gonna lie. I checked out her biz as soon as I got home. (As well as her google ratings. Trust me; they’re up there!)
The Big Difference
I was convinced Michelle was an awesome photographer, but I knew she wasn’t cheap. I wanted to know the true difference between what we would get if we went with her vs. doing pics ourselves or even going the traditional studio route. Boy, was I schooled!
Here’s what I learned:
You won’t get a “45 pics for $19.95” coupon at Magical Memories, BUT at the Bulk Photo Producers (we are NOT down with BPP ever again), you won’t get the experience you get at Magical Memories. I couldn’t even believe everything our daughter’s senior portrait experience included…sure didn’t get all this at a discount BPP:
- Loads of prep-time with Michelle
- Amazing Style Guides & help with fashion & make-up
- Guidance & referrals for hair & makeup pros
- Access to a stocked-to-the-brim Style Closet
- A 3+ hour photo shoot at multiple locations (moms, wear comfy shoes!)
- Professional retouching…but only what we wanted
- Out-of-this-world keepsakes
I also learned that my already-amazingly beautiful and talented daughter had another side to her—one that I had never seen before. I probably wouldn’t have gotten to see it if she hadn’t been working with Michelle. Here’s what happened.
I don’t know how to explain it. Michelle has a way with these kids. I’ve now seen her work with Marissa, my daughter, as well as a few other grads, and she puts them at such ease in front of the camera. She develops a rapport with them that, within 15 minutes, makes the camera, the worried mom, the make-up bag, the cell phone, and everything else magically disappear. (See what I did there? Magical?)
When we first stepped into the ditch (it’s beautiful, don’t worry), Marissa was stiff. And she might have been ‘tromping like an elephant,’ although Michelle would only say something like that out of love. BUT…
And it’s a big BUT! Within 10 minutes, those two were laughing like sorority girls at a carwash fundraiser. The props, the stress, the mom, the heat? All of it forgotten!
A complete transformation occurred before my eyes, and I was able to stand back and watch Michelle capture images of my daughter. The beautiful daughter that I see every day. The girl that I’ve seen for 18 years as she’s grown and flourished and learned.
At her senior picture photo shoot, Marissa was looking forward to a limitless future. Graduation, college, competitive diving, working toward a career, so many things! And at that same photo shoot, I was filled with dreams for my daughter’s future; but at the same time I was able to look back and see—just for a minute—that little girl with the freckles and curls who carried a very ladylike purse full of pacifiers with her when she was four years old. (Gotta be prepared!)
I don’t know how Michelle did it, but at Marissa’s senior picture photo shoot, she managed to take Marissa through an entire journey of the things that have contributed to the wonderful person she is today. We had fun. We laughed. We were exhausted. I saw my girl transform in into the carefree, lighthearted spirit she’s always been right in front of the camera. And it happened in such a natural way! Michelle captured the glint in her eye. She captured the way she tilts her head when she’s being goofy. She captured how she loves her dog, Savannah, more than anything else in the world.
I can’t tell you how long Marissa’s photo shoot lasted, but I can tell you it was longer than three hours. And I can tell you that never once did Michelle get tired! We were the ones to call it…she wore us out with her energy, ideas, and enthusiasm for her art. And in the end? Did we end up with a packet of cloned prints of the same image? You can bet we did NOT! We invested in heirloom-quality keepsakes that will last forever! We have a beautiful image box, a wall collage, and plenty of different prints to share with the entire family. We even have a flash drive full of her digital images and slideshow!
To my previous two kiddos: Mom is very, very sorry. I think I have some very fine snapshots of your graduation from about twenty rows back (although they feature the back of some stranger’s head). I promise to get fabulous graduation photos for my grandkids! To the next two: Your graduation photos will also be with Magical Memories by Michelle, so they will be equally as fantabulous as Marissa’s!
Was It Worth It?
Yes, yes, and YES! Michelle’s way of capturing every nuance of Marissa’s personality was truly magical, and I’m so grateful that we will always have the professional images of our girl as she was getting ready to make her way out into the the great-big world! Thank you, Michelle!
Build Confidence & Create Memories: Fun Ideas for Teen Photo Shoots
Everyone knows time goes by too fast…especially if you’re a parent watching your little tike toddle into near-adulthood in the blink of an eye. How in the world did THAT happen so fast?!
We wish we’d taken more pictures, created more keepsakes and albums, tucked away more tangible reminders of those years that flew by. Well, I’ve got a secret for you! You don’t have to wait until senior year to have a fabulous photo shoot for your teenager.
I don’t have to tell you…kids change a LOT from the time they’re 13 or 14 years old until they graduate a few years later. So why aren’t more parents scheduling photo shoots for their teens? Here’s what I’ve heard…
They don’t want to ruin the fun of their senior session by scheduling extra teen sessions. The worry is that it might put a damper on the excitement of graduation photos, but nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, look at a teen photo shoot as a great warm-up and a way for your teen to get comfortable in front of the camera. That way, their senior pictures will be even more exciting!
Changing Throughout the Years
Think back through the years and remember how much your kids have changed. Think about the missing teeth and then the braces, the experimental haircuts, the unique fashion trends, and the trial runs at different sports. Every kid goes through so many stages before they finally reach that pinnacle year…SENIOR YEAR!
One of the best things ever is to be able to look back at those photos and see how they grew into themselves on their way to becoming fantastic young adults! And trust me, as a mom who just sent a daughter off to college, these photos are priceless when you’re waiting for them to come home for a visit!
It’s true. Graduation gets here WAY before we ever expect it to. And while our teens are itching to get out into the world, we cherish all the moments of watching them get to that point. So proceed with eyes wide open…don’t blink or you’ll miss something amazing!
Is a Teen Portrait Session Worth It?
A thousand times yes! A photo shoot for your teenager is a valuable investment for so many reasons. Not only does it build self-assurance and get them ready for senior pics, it gives family and friends the opportunity to have wonderful keepsakes that let them watch one of their favorite young people grow up.
Boost of Confidence
I hear it from every mom that walks into my office. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
“My daughter is beautiful, but she doesn’t see it.”
“My teen works so hard at sports and school, but she’s still lacking confidence.”
“I thought my child would be in the same sport throughout junior high and high school.”
Yes? You’re not alone! I’ve been through all of these things with my teenagers, and it’s why I believe that taking a time-out and celebrating your child at this age is so important.
What’s in a Teen Photo Shoot?
My teen photo shoots are very similar to a senior portrait session. Clients can select a daytime session or a combination session that includes daytime and nighttime photos. If a teen wants to include a pet, a favorite sport, hobbies, or other things that truly make their personality shine, I’m all for it. Let’s go for it and make your teen stand out like the star they are!
This girl has to be one of the luckiest kids on the planet! She’s from Idaho, but every summer she visits her aunt and they do something special together. When Aunt Heidi realized they hadn’t had professional portraits done of Marissa in quite a few years, she gave me a call and we started planning! The hardest part was keeping all of this a secret from Marissa’s mom since it was going to be a surprise for her.
What to Wear for a Teen Photo Shoot
The guidelines are the same for nearly any photo shoot. You’ll want to choose outfits you feel good in and be sure the clothes you choose fit you properly. Plan to bring at least 6 changes of clothes so we have a good variety to mix and match.
Not sure if you have the right styles and don’t want to spend a lot on clothes you’ll only wear a couple of times? Problem solved! Just check out these awesome outfits from my exclusive Style Closet! Since Marissa was visiting and hadn’t planned on a photo shoot, she took full advantage of all the different outfits available for my clients. She loved the vintage floral style paired with a red necklace, but then she selected one of the most popular dresses in my collection, the blue and white floral, which is beautiful in the water. She had her white shorts, so we paired that with a green crocheted top and leaf print wrap. It all came together beautifully!
This young lady looks fabulous in yellow and shows it perfectly in this popular jumpsuit. During her Arizona visit, she also had her hair highlighted, which you can see just a little in this image.
This is who she is NOW, and in a few years she may decide she likes her natural blonde or some other hair color. But seriously, it’s stunning!!! I guarantee Mom will be thrilled to have these as Marissa goes through junior high and high school. And when her senior portraits are taken, she’ll love being able to compare and see the differences in Marissa as she’s grown up.
I had to get a picture of her stunning new hair color! As you can see, when the sun captures it just right, the trendy purple highlights peek through to give just a smidge of an edgy vibe to Marissa’s already on-trend look.
A Special Note from Mom
Marissa has the greatest laugh, her creative mind and love of writing makes her stories fascinating to read. It is very heart- warming to watch her mentor the young 4H kids and the way she explains how to show rabbits. Her smile and laugh are so infectious…looking forward to watching her make the world a better place!
The greatest laugh? Yes, I’d have to agree! Believe it or not, this image was taken just off the side of the road. When we caught sight of all the summery yellow colors, we had to stop and make sure they were part of Marissa’s photo shoot. The romper she’s wearing is one of three in this style, each a different size and color, so I have lots of options for every client.
Another concern I hear from parents is about braces. They often wonder if they should wait until teenagers’ braces are removed before planning a photo shoot. Well, I guess you can, and I admit, years ago, I might have thought the same thing…BUT as it turns out, I love the pictures I have of my kids in braces because it reminds me of an entirely different phase of their lives!
Remember that whole thing about life going by too fast? Those braces pictures are pretty nice to have when you have a grown-up kiddo who’s ready to move out into the world on their own. Plus, what kid isn’t over-the-moon excited to pick the next color of rubber bands every time they go to the orthodontist? It’s a rite of passage, and just look at that gorgeous smile!
Remind Them They’re Beautiful
I submit my images to many national and international magazines for publication, and I’ll admit, when I first got published I was beside myself. I couldn’t contain my joy! Now that feeling has shifted.
Don’t get me wrong; I love getting acknowledgement from my peers and other pros, but you know what’s even better? Spreading that joy to my teens! When I get to share the news that one (or more!) of their photos has been published, they’re so proud and excited. And with good reason! It’s a big deal to have your photo highlighted in one of these industry-leading publications. The magazines themselves are glossy and beautiful and high-quality. Add to that the fact that clients who are published are surrounded by hundreds of other gorgeous, runway-worthy teens–and they see themselves as part of that.
Marissa was lucky enough to have TWO of her images published in the premier issue of Teen Years Magazine! Below are her two winning images.
Marissa is quite the artist. She saw an image I did years ago of a high school girl with her sketchpad, and we decided to use that as inspiration for this picture. It was a treat for her to share her beautiful artwork with me. I can’t tell you how much I truly enjoy getting to know all my clients and watching them grow. I have a passion for photography, but getting a glimpse into the lives of these talented teens is something I love even more.
Marissa’s second winning image was taken at a nearby park toward the end of her session. I love how the early teen years can take kids from near-adulthood right back to childhood again. That’s why this photo of Marissa enjoying a carefree moment on a swing set is near and dear to my heart. And it’s just one more reminder to capture those growing-up moments while you can! Bonus: Marissa has always loved swings, so I didn’t even have to convince her this was a good idea. Every piece from this outfit is from the Magical Memories Style Closet, and it looked great with the light blue sky and green trees. Although we did have a few mishaps with the hat flying off!
Want to see more teen photo shoots at Magical Memories? You might enjoy these posts:
Alex and Mavery: Best Friends
Published in Teen Years Magazine
Teen Photo Shoot at Night
Meet Skylar: East Mesa Teen Photo Shoot
Brother & Sister Photos | Planning a Photo Shoot for Everyone
Everyone who knows me knows I love a challenge, so when Kate and Ben stepped into my office, I was ready! Ideas started flowing, and when I got to know this pair of siblings, I couldn’t wait to get started planning an amazing photo shoot they would both love.
Together with mom, we talked through all their likes, preferences, and especially all the talents and skills they’d want to make sure we highlighted in their graduation photos. And let me tell you, this is one seriously talented and accomplished duo!
Seriously Laid Back
One of the best parts of my job (there are so many BEST PARTS!) is getting to see the many sides of every graduate I work with, and Ben is no exception. He’s serious about his studies and his future, and he’s invested in building his skills (just wait ‘til you see his welding projects!), but when he wants to kick back and relax, he’s pretty serious about that, too.
Ben’s easy-going, free-flowing printed shirt and reflective shades were the perfect way to show off his casual style. It was super-fun to work with the reflection in his lenses and capture his carefree grin as we kicked off the day. And talk about hair envy! Those locks soaked up every bit of the sunshine, and with a laidback lean, he pulled off a dashing in-the-moment look.
Graduates of Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Arizona, both Kate and Ben plan on attending Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. But that’s where the similarities in their educational paths stop!
Kate plans to lean on her love of engineering and success in the Academic Decathlon to drive her in double majors of astronomy and engineering physics as she transitions to college. Her dream job is to work as a NASA physicist, so keep your eyes open for even more amazing girl power coming from NASA soon!
Ben’s sharp mind and intuitive nature are guiding him toward a career as a psychiatrist, and he’s already planning to earn his doctorate degree to further his future career. Known for being supportive and fun to be around, he is also artistic, a talented welder, and a history buff.
Talk about mega-talented and driven graduates…it must run in the family!
Sundown in the Desert
Photographers spend a LOT of time honing their talent and working to learn all the tricks of the trade so we can make sure our clients get the very best images possible. But sometimes, there’s a little (or a LOT) of luck involved!
How often do you get to see a sunset this gorgeous? And how often do you actually have your camera ready WITH the perfect clients in the perfect spot to capture it? These ideal moments don’t happen all that frequently, so when they do, I am one seriously thrilled photographer!
There’s so much to say about these photos of Kate! First, just when I thought I’d already seen her looking runway ready, she switched things up and pulled off this beautiful blue dress flawlessly. Not only does it pop against the natural colors of the sky, but she brought along a couple favorite accessories that paired wonderfully with this outfit.
The blue beret could not be any cuter! It adds serious panache and a sense of spunky style to her look. She topped things off with a perfectly color-coordinated gaming die that pulls in a key aspect of her personality, too. An active Dungeons and Dragons club member, this feisty shot is a fun reminder of one of the activities she loves.
Ben pulled off an equally stylish sundown look with a dapper hat, dressy tie, and a confident smile that shows off his engaging and witty personality.
With the desert landscape in shadow behind them and the sky showing off brilliant colors, this sibling duo posed arm-in-arm and back-to-back in coordinated outfits. Both of them dressed to the nines, and they looked ready to paint the town or strike up a dance of celebration!
Artistic + Smart = Smartsy
I couldn’t resist capturing this photo of Kate as she sat down with her sketch pad and made what seems impossible to many of us look easy. It’s one of her many gifts, and she looks relaxed and gorgeous as she shades and blends the lines of her work.
She’s clearly got an eye for style as well! As soon as I saw how crisp and pulled together this look was on her and how it blended with the auburn shades of her hair, I knew we’d have a winning set of photos on our hands. With these images set in a shadowed background, Kate stands apart, and her choice of earth-tone boots, minimal accessories, and light makeup pull the entire look together.
Pro Tip: When you understand lighting, you can create a black background like this, outdoors, almost any time of day!
You might want to check your kitchen drawers to see if your silverware is all accounted for, because if you look closely, you’ll notice Ben’s welding projects from Red Mountain are designed entirely from cutlery! He’s brilliant, witty, stylish, and creative…and he’s not stopping anytime soon.
A welder at Red Mountain, Ben can wield a torch and turn hunks of metal into some of the coolest pieces of art around. From soldiers to jousters to a giant eagle made of butter knives, his creativity and talent are boundless!
Of course, we had to include some great images of him in his welding helmet, jacket, and tee for his senior picture memories. When I saw his gear wasn’t just any plain gear—but instead covered in red flames—it added a coolness factor that demanded to be in pictures!
Green with Envy
Is there a color this girl doesn’t look gorgeous in? The simple answer is NOPE! She can pull off prints, vibrant blue, and everything in between. But this green sweater and coordinating hat have a way of making Kate glow in such a stunning way under the nighttime lights that it simply had to be part of her senior portrait collection.
She’s trendy and chic and looks like she’s ready to take on the world in this model-worthy ensemble!
Dancin’ in the Streets
When the sun finally dropped and darkness fell, it was time to glam things up under the nighttime lights. It was the perfect time for a brother and sister dance right in the middle of the street.
And what better way to celebrate years of studying, hard work, and accomplishments than a twirl under the city lights?
These two are onto amazing things with big goals in front of them. Oh yeah, another great part of my job? Getting to stay in touch and hear about all the awesome things they accomplish along the way!
Get out there and take on the world, Kate and Ben!
Fall Outfit Ideas for Senior Portraits
Yes, I know Phoenix isn’t known for those beautiful fall colors seen across the country, but December and January can bring beautiful colors to the Valley of the Sun! While Oceanana is actually a 2019 graduate, her wardrobe is still shows such great fall outfit ideas I thought it was worth sharing again!
Fall prints and patterns
This wrap has been part of my Style Closet for about a year now and I think Oceanana was one of the first to wear it for her senior pictures. With several colors incorporated, you can choose your favorite and wear a coordinating cami or tank underneath!
Fall wardrobe colors
Pull out your reds, oranges, and yellows! Oceanana’s jumper is a gorgeous fall color, but paired with this cute yellow top it just becomes the epitome of fall fashion!
We added the hat for another look and made sure to get a beautiful closeup for Mom to show off those beautiful eyes!
Fall colors for backdrops
Ok, so we don’t have the typical autumn colors in Phoenix but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it work! This fun wall creates the perfect autumn look, so we chose a rusty red-orange jumper to tie it all together. Oceanana paired it with a simple black top and black boots for the perfect touch!
Oceanana wanted a fall look, and since pumpkins and fall go hand-in-hand, her mom brought a few to the photo shoot! I think these are two of my favorites from her portrait gallery.
Bonus: Fall in Arizona
Just because it’s fall or winter in Arizona doesn’t mean it’s too cold for the water! This is the absolute BEST part of having senior pictures here! Ok, so we have a few miserable, sweaty months…after that, we can create images that look like nearly any season! That means you can create many looks during your photography session, including wading in the water! So in one portrait session, we incorporated six different outfits for a gallery filled with variety!
Ideas for fall senior pictures
- Include orange, yellow, and rust colors in your wardrobe.
- Choose the right footwear. Wear Boots instead of flip-flops or sandals.
- Bring a fall colored bouquet or pumpkins.
- If too many colors isn’t your look, add in fall colors with a scarf, hat, or jewelry.
Add Adventure & Accomplishments to Your Graduation Photos
There’ve been a few clients over the years who I’ve had to convince about the cool factor of the whole senior picture photo shoot situation. Colin is one of them. An awesome grad with so much going for him, it’s no wonder his mom clamored for an amazing set of graduation photos to show off his accomplishments. We just had to convince Colin there was value in the whole process…and in what he’d be able to give to friends and family to celebrate all his hard work.
Colin didn’t exactly arrive at my office kicking and screaming, but he did admit he was going through the entire senior portrait process for his mom. (What a sweet guy, am I right?!)
To get the best, most amazing senior pictures ever, however, I wanted to convince Colin it was something he wanted to do, too!
It took about 7 minutes. And if I can humble-brag for just a second, that’s kind of a record! This 2021 grad was on board with a professional photo shoot as soon as we started talking about the flexibility, creativity, and possibilities that would go into his images…all of which included HIS valuable input.
Restauranteur & Dapper Drink Mixer
If you’ve ever been to Fat Willy’s, you know it’s just about the coolest family sports bar and grill in town. Even cooler? It’s owned by Colin’s family, so of course some Risky Business-style pics were in order, complete with a dapper vest and tie and drink shaker in hand. (Disclaimer: To achieve this level of trendsetting genius, you must be at least 18 years old. I’ve grown accustomed to the comforts of home, and the authorities don’t take kindly to minors behind the bar!)
Check out the relaxed pose and smile Colin has going on! He’s right at home, and his classy vest, shirt, and tie combo fit in perfectly with the upscale stonework in the background. An added bonus? His smile and dimples add lighthearted charm to his sharp look.
Shaken, Not Stirred
Ok, not even shaken! This guy was such a natural throughout his photo shoot that you’d never guess he was hesitant to even shoot graduation pictures. We added an image of his graduation cap, tassel, and gown to officially commemorate the moment.
Getting Shadow & Light Just Right
Many of my clients gravitate toward outdoor photos since we’re in a place where the sun shines just about every day of the year! But don’t forget about the artistic and fun opportunities that exist for your senior pictures at indoor locations around the East Valley. Especially if you own—or know someone who owns—a unique, artistic, or simply amazing picture spot!
Not only did Colin’s photos give him the chance to celebrate the family biz along with his accomplishment, choosing indoor images allowed me to pull in some super creative lighting elements. I love the way Colin stands out in these pictures! With his light eyes, reddish hair, and choice of light-colored shirt, I had the chance to really pull him forward and let the background fade.
Moments That Matter (And Why I Do This Job)
Every now and then, you’ll see a senior picture where the grad is holding a photo of a grandparent or parent—sort of a fun and creative throwback photo. The image below is similar, except when I finished shooting it, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room…including mine! (Talk about a challenge. How’s a photographer supposed to focus when she’s sobbing?)
There are so many reasons to love this photo, but the most touching one—and the one that made this moment so meaningful—is that fact that Colin’s dad, pictured in the framed photo he’s holding, passed away just over two years ago. I wanted to capture the proud moment when a son looked down at his dad, both of them dressed in their graduation caps and gowns, and shared a common memory and accomplishment.
Talk about a “mini-me” moment! Colin and his dad look exactly alike, and if the photo shoot was emotional, I can’t even begin to explain the happy and poignant emotions when they arrived for the Image Premiere and they got to see this image for the very first time.
Daredevil Moves & A Devilish Grin
After drying our tears, we moved on…to another day and a different portion of Colin’s senior pictures! It was time for fun in the sun, and Canyon Lake was on the agenda.
Don’t try to guess how many graduation caps we went through during these photos. The wakeboarding portion is what I lovingly refer to as the “water adventure” segment of the shoot, and it involved a whole lot of Colin looking really, really cool on a wakeboard and his crazy photographer trying not to fall in the water as I balanced myself and all my equipment while trying to capture stuntman-worthy moves!
As a senior, if you’re gonna send the “OUTTA HERE” message, there aren’t a whole lot of ways that are cooler than this!
Colin is a 2021 graduate of Desert Ridge High School, and he’s looking forward to a future full of possibilities! He’d love to become a voice actor, and he’s planning to work in a trade like construction or welding to save money and build his skillset.
A self-confessed nerd, Colin loves bands like Dropkick Murphy and Five Finger Death Punch. He’s a gamer and he likes to watch Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Supernatural. He’s got big dreams on his bucket list, so keep an eye out, because in the future he’d like to try skydiving, backpacking through Europe, and visiting Tokyo.
Asked for advice for incoming high school freshmen, he simply wishes everyone good luck. But on the down-low he says to watch out for the lunch lady and avoid making eye contact. According to Colin, she’s not one to be messed with!
What an amazing young man and family! Clients like this make my job so rewarding, and I cannot wait to see how he crushes his goals!