Photography Life: Expect the Unexpected & Roll with the Punches
There’s never a dull moment as a photographer. It’s one of those careers that you simply have to jump in and experience the unknown in order to build up knowledge and prepare for all those moments that will inevitably pop up and surprise you from time to time.
From 2009 until now, my photography career has been a bit like a crazy road trip with your bestie. Picture a winding road with a few roller coaster hills, wind in my hair (literally!), some unexpected and surprisingly productive pit stops, and great memories!
How rewarding is a career like that? So rewarding that you want to tell everyone about it!
Growing Creativity & Expressiveness
Every road trip has its learning moments. Ever set out for paradise and instead end up with a flat tire or taking a wrong turn? Luckily senior pictures are nothing as dramatic as that! Usually the toughest situation clients face is a flat hairdo mid-session, and that’s fixable with a quick shot of hairspray. Occasionally, things go a little more sideways, but we always go with the flow, and usually that ends up in some surprisingly lovely impromptu photographs!
Pro Tip for Photogs: When I keep my cool and remain unshaken (even in the face of a pop-up windstorm), my clients stay relaxed and unshaken, too!
Really, there’s no other way to become a professional photographer than weathering every situation imaginable. You name it, it’s happened to me during a shoot! And everything that’s happened has helped me grow and become better at my job.
Going Out on a Limb (Literally)
Just about every client wants to hear about past photo sessions or see some creative ideas—mostly to help them start brainstorming their own fabulous photo shoot. I love sharing past shoots with clients, but I always say, there’s no way to predict what a session might throw at us. What I can guarantee is that I’ll be able to handle it! That’s something that comes from years of making LOTS of lemonade, even when forces outside my picture-taking control kept trying to throw lemons at me.
I’ve climbed rocks, sat in water (both on accident and intentionally!), smacked my head, and dangled from trees. Let’s not even discuss how many times I’ve tripped! I will, quite literally, go out on a limb, wade through water, hike in the desert…all to be sure I get the best images of YOU!
Interestingly, it seems like some of the best photos come from those unplanned and unexpected moments. These are the moments when some photographers might panic and reschedule and when some clients might want to melt into a puddle of disappointed make-up. But I’m not one to let the little obstacles stand in my way! I’m the one sitting on the rock in the middle of the lake, remember!?
Here are some of the stand-out photos that have made their way to the top of my faves list—because they are fun and fabulous, but also because they were taken either in less than desirable circumstances and turned out to be accidentally awesome or they captured clients in candid and silly moments!
The wind isn’t always my worst enemy, but on this day, it came close. Living in Arizona makes it fairly easy to plan sunny, blue sky pics. Aside from excessive heat in the hottest months, every calendar day is pretty much fair game. In fact, the ONLY thing in the world that might make me cancel a session is the wind. Unfortunately, Arizona wind has a mind of its own. Not only does it blow in strong gusts, but it picks up ALL that dry dust that’s been laying around and swirls it into the air. Imagine all that, and then add long hair to the mix. You can end up with a nightmare for your outdoor photo shoot really fast!
Needless to say, I was keeping a close eye on the forecast for the day of Dianica’s shoot. When you’re a professional photographer, you also become a bit of an amateur meteorologist of sorts. I was reassured we were expecting a mild, delightful breeze at about 10-12 mph, which would be just enough to capture a lovely hair-blowing-in-the-wind effect.
With a picture perfect forecast on the horizon, I hopped in the car and drove 30 minutes west to Chandler. And that’s all it took for the wind to pick up to 25 mph! YIKES!
As you can imagine, Dianica’s long, gorgeous locks were flying, but I’m not one to let the wind beat me! Check out the amazing photos we ended up capturing with a little creativity and patience.
Yep, these gorgeous sun hats are both available in my Style Closet!
Wardrobe Tip: If your top is too long or doesn’t look right tucked in, tie it!
Time Flies & We’re Always Having Fun
Being a photographer has taught me even more how quickly time flies. I love it when I am contacted by past acquaintances and friends, but the more time that’s passed, the more I’m reminded of how grown-up kids seem to be now.
A fellow gym mom contacted me, and this one will always stick in my mind, because I was shocked when I saw her soon-to-be-graduating son. While we hadn’t talked in a few years, of course I remembered her family, and memories of our boys at 9-10 years old flooded back. They were always playing at the gym while our girls were at practice.
The young man that turned up for his photo shoot was a grown-up version of one of those little boys! I was shocked at how fast the years had flown by, and I couldn’t believe that Alex was about to graduate. Be sure to capture those moments in time, because they definitely DO fly by. And while these were his high school senior pictures, just like that, 4 more years have flown by and now he’s a 2021 graduate of ASU’s Construction Management Program!
Grooming Tip for Guys: Wanna rock that facial hair? Just be sure to trim it the morning of your photo shoot.
Timing: The Moments That Matter
Senior sessions are judgment-free, no-holds-barred areas. If you want to be silly, fun, wacky, or business-like…that’s exactly what you should do. Bottom line: you do you! The charm of a senior photo session is that there’s ZERO PRESSURE, and the only thing you have to do is be yourself.
This image of Helen embodies all of the things I just described. At this exact moment in time, she was in her element, goofing around between shoots, with no posing. It was simply the real Helen. And WOW…what a picture it turned out to be!
I will admit that I worried for a moment and wondered if Helen’s parents might question my sanity for taking the pic. I thought, “What if they hate it?” But all that worry was for nothing, because they loved it! Mom especially loved that I caught a moment when her daughter was just being herself.
Can you imagine how awesome it would be to have a picture like this of your mom or grandma? I’m sure it’s long way off, but I’ll have to keep in touch with their family to make sure this photo gets passed along and cherished.
Sassy, Silly & So Much Fun
Mercy is another client I’ll always remember! She’s all grown up and moved across the country now, but this goofy cross-eyed photo is still one of my favorites when I need a laugh!
It’s also hanging in my office, and clients love to refer to it when talking about expression and making sure I capture their personalities. No doubt about it, Mercy has personality to spare, and it shows up perfectly in this picture!
Make Your Shoot Memorable
There are a few things you can focus on before your senior picture photo shoot to ensure you get the true-to-you, expressive pictures that people will be talking about for years to come:
- Prep to feel confident. After we’ve figured out your venues and your overall theme, it’s time to focus on YOU! It’s all about self-care and looking gorgeous, so for girls and guys, take plenty of time to plan your outfits and hair, and book grooming appointments about a week before your photo shoot so you’ll feel your absolute best. When you feel ready to go, you’ll be ready to go!
- Believe in the magic. If I’m not worried, you don’t need to worry! So if there’s a cloud in the sky or a raindrop in the forecast, you can trust that I’m on top of it. Even if you break a nail (gasp!), if you don’t see the photographer panic, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Believe it or not, most things can be fixed, so just keep having fun!
- Be comfortable & be yourself. Be sure to choose comfortable outfits that you look and feel good in. Then, don’t be afraid to loosen up, talk, be silly—just be yourself. I’ll see those natural, expressive moments and capture them whenever they come up.
Your senior pictures are when you get to shine and show off all the things that make you YOU. So get excited and let your quirky, funny, serious, silly, casual, artsy side show!