Goals & Glam: Future-Focused Graduation Photos
I was super-excited to meet Natalie and talk about her senior pictures and all the ideas she had for her portrait package—for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m always thrilled to help graduating seniors put together the perfect photo package that celebrates all they’ve accomplished throughout their school years. Secondly, I was over-the-moon happy to help Natalie plan an entire photo shoot that would commemorate all the hard work she’s put in as both a graduate and a single mom!
Everyone who’s a mom knows that all those sleepless nights and early-morning feedings aren’t for the weak. Add to that the stress and hard work of finishing up a high school education and graduating, and you end up with a mega amount of responsibility on your shoulders. While many might expect a young adult in her situation to flounder, Natalie did exactly the opposite!
Hello, Honor Roll
Throughout high school, Natalie met challenges and welcomed unexpected gifts with every ounce of her energy, positivity, and enthusiasm—and those things are exactly what landed her on the honor roll at Chandler Online Academy in Chandler, Arizona. Those close to her describe her as determined and ambitious, which are qualities that are sure to carry her far as she moves from high school onto her future goals. And those are the exact qualities I wanted to capture in her senior pictures!
Urban Vibes Close to Home
Natalie let me know she loved the urban look and wanted to work that style into her senior photos, and after seeing how these pictures turned out, I knew why. This girl fits so naturally into this downtown setting with her cool and chic style! If you didn’t know better, you’d think there was a professional model photo shoot taking place.
In destructed denim and a trendy cotton blouse, Natalie effortlessly tops everything off with a fashionable layered necklace look. And who doesn’t want to see the world through rose-colored glasses? Adding a vintage feel to her look, she chose a pair of ombré two-tone shades with rhinestone accents to amp up her look. Her accessory choices perfectly highlight her just-right make-up and sleek hairstyle.
A quick outfit change let Natalie switch from denim to a strappy white slip dress. This was another perfect outfit choice for the location! I instantly saw the background that would make Natalie’s look stand out even more, and it mixed seamlessly with the downtown feel we were going for. By pairing the industrial look of a metal railing and an urban staircase backdrop, I was able to pull in tons of texture and depth, truly making Natalie the star of this photo. I love the way she stands out in her white dress with her rock star nails as she makes eye contact with the camera!
Upbeat Look, Downtown Edge
This brick wall background gave us another great way to add texture and pull in the downtown elements Natalie was looking for. I wanted to make sure there were plenty of opportunities to capture her show-stopping nails, so I encouraged lots of movement and added in a chair for some fun seated angles, too. Not only is it helpful for clients to have something to do with their hands during shoots, it also adds a more natural element. Let the twirling begin!
In this series of photos, Natalie is stunningly front and center in another outfit change that I want to point out for its lack of complexity. Light denim jeans paired with a strappy black cami are stylish and just right for the location, and without a lot of fanfare and extra accessories, the focus is solely on Natalie. Often, some of your favorite outfits or casual looks that make you feel most comfortable are the ones that will truly make you shine!
Just a Peek
Sunglasses are a must in Arizona! So why not make them stylish and add a bit of a flirty peek over the brim to show off sculpted brows and gorgeous eyes?
To get Natalie’s straight-from-the-runway look, remember to touch up your brows a few days before your senior pictures, have your nails in show-off shape, and bring lip gloss to touch up your lips throughout your photo shoot. Bring a brush or comb, too, just in case it’s breezy and you need to wrangle your hair back into place.
What’s in a Number?
As it turns out, a number can mean a whole lot! Natalie wanted a giant “21” to commemorate the year of her graduation—and with good reason. After all her hard work and determination, it was finally time to celebrate a major accomplishment.
I love the way the light captures the shine on these balloon numbers, but I don’t think anything can compare with the glow on Natalie’s face!
Cap Toss & Carefree Smiles
We switched up the scenery a bit for some more traditional cap and gown photos, and with a natural background to show off her smiling face, Natalie absolutely radiates happiness. As she flung her mortarboard high in the air, I could sense the joy and feeling of accomplishment in all she’d done. If ever there was a time to show off that number “21,” this is it! Way to go, Natalie!
She Did It…for Both of Them
For a professional photographer, there’s not a lot that feels better than capturing an image that so perfectly conveys how meaningful a moment is for a client.
Meet Rylah. She’s Natalie’s daughter, and she just turned 3. I’m the luckiest photographer ever, because soon I’ll be able to share some of the sweetest 3-year-old birthday pictures with you, too! But today is about celebrating Natalie and all the things that have inspired her to keep working hard and graduate on the honor roll.
There are so many things I love about these images, but mostly, I’m proud to share how they truly convey the love, strength, and happiness that is apparent in the bond between Natalie and Rylah.
Words of Wisdom
When asked if she has advice for incoming freshmen, Natalie said she’d tell them to focus on school and remind them that there’s plenty of time for relationships later. She says she’ll miss her teenage years, but keep your eyes open for her, because this fashion-forward, outgoing young lady has her sights set on being a YouTuber. You can bet she’ll be sharing inspiration and top tips for success as she makes her mark on the world!
OMG! I am crying! How perfect is this, and her adorable daughter, and all she is doing to be an amazing mom and an amazing student! I can’t even imagine. You have showcased her natural beauty, and told a beautiful story for her to enjoy for years to come! Love this!
Right?!?! I have been so impressed by both her and her mom. So much that I’m actually having them both be guest bloggers soon! It’s so amazing watching Natalie be successful!
So much more than just Senior pictures in Chandler, AZ. You captured family memories for this amazing mom & grad. Congratulations, Natalie!
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jodi!
What an incredible young lady! Working hard not only for her future, but for her daughter’s as well! Awesome senior photos for an outstanding graduate!
Thanks so much Brandi! I’m incredibly proud of her!!
Natalie’s senior pictures are truly amazing. And she sounds like the most amazing student and mom to have the focus to work through her studies and mothering with tremendous responsibility. You created the perfect photo gallery for her Michelle! I’m sure she is thrilled with her experience!
As moms we know how hard it is to raise a toddler, can you imagine doing that at 15-16 years old? And then graduating with honors, I have loved watching her and Rylah grow together, even just over the summer!
I love how she included her daughter into her senior pictures! You can truly tell how much she wants to work hard for them both.
Thanks so much for reading about Natalie and Rylah! It really is heartwarming to see teen moms turn into successful young adults, and watch them become role models for their babies!
I know Natalie’s sweet daughter looks up to her so much!
Thanks Brandi! They are just so cute together!
What a gorgeous senior session. Chandler, Arizona looks like it offers a plethora of stunning background options.
I love that you appreciate all the beautiful places that Chandler has for senior portrait sessions. Thanks for reading and commenting Jody!
Such great variety for her senior photos in Chandler, Arizona! I bet these photos mean so much to her, even years later!
Thank you Kelly! I really hope all my seniors look back on our time together shooting, and remember all the fun we had!