Gone are the days of the traditional in studio, everyone doing the same canned thing, senior sessions. I remember being a senior. Of course, my parents loved the images. They then had to spend a ton on prints- which I still find floating around in keepsake boxes of random sentimental stuff. Now, photo sessions are far more interesting and personalized! I love that!
This year especially, the school experience has been one of many variables. Seniors are not getting the same versions of events as students in years prior. Covid has brought along limitations that reach beyond the scope of anything we may have imagined and our kids have had to adjust. They have had to give up many normal social events that are celebrated at the end of a high school career, or they've had to trade them for a much more tame, filtered version. They've had to stay home. ALOT. They've had to adjust how they socialize and how they learn. Some have had to give up doing things they previously enjoyed. Many experiences that were once in-person were traded for something done in front of a web camera and no matter how great your internet speed is, and as lucky as we are to live in the age of endless digital/virtual possibilities, it can still be a daunting task to enjoy.
Our kids have been adaptable and resilient and I think we are all proud of how they are going with the flow and making it work. After all, that's a huge lesson in becoming an adult, isn't it?
One thing that I encourage parents to do is give their student a fun, unique, and personal senior photo session. This is something that has only gotten better as the years have passed. It's something Covid can't take away. I've had the pleasure of working with so many great young adults this year creating images that celebrate their personalities. The Graduate Elite package is built to give all the options in one session, but another great way some parents are choosing is to book multiple mini sessions seasonally! What a great way to change things up, add more variety, and sprinkle something fun throughout the school year!
Whatever way you choose to honor that senior in your life, don't miss out on a fun photo experience. Now, more than ever, they need these little things that don't have to be dumbed down. It's time to reimagine the senior photo experience! Bring the prom dresses, the suits, the sports uniforms, the art & the interests! Let's make a memory!
Today began like any other photo filled weekend.... cleaning floors, styling sets, testing lights. When my early afternoon senior mini session started it was nothing less than normal until we decided to celebrate spontaneity, throw on a fabulous dress and go get some shots in a far less than ordinary location.
20 minutes later, I would find myself tiptoeing with shoeless, mud-covered feet, a pack of gear on my back, a light stand and speedlight over my shoulder, and a camera in my other hand.
A trek into a drained lake and some unexpected soft ground claimed my new croc-flops (literally JUST took them out of the package this morning!).
As we were heading to find the perfect spot for the perfect shot, I stepped in a soft spot. I didn't expect to sink to my calf and tried to bail, but my other foot became locked so I had to abandon both flops or risk needing to call for rescue!
Don't worry, though! We finished that shoot (barefoot and mud between my toes...) And it was worth it! ;)
I was a graphic designer first. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved photography, but if you asked me what I saw myself doing when I started college, it wouldn’t have been my immediate response.
I loved the commercial side of imagery. I loved noticing typography, layouts, the way words and pictures came together to convey an idea to an audience. I would have told you that my “dream” career was at an advertising agency brainstorming and creating for products or magazines. I think I like the psychology behind attracting an audience to those things. Also, while I am a creative, I am also a control freak. I think graphic design affords me the opportunity to fill that need to control things.
The thing is, I didn’t pursue that career in advertising. There were too many things in life that I wanted to do, so I couldn’t choose just one career path (and I still don’t, lol!). I’ve spent years floundering between industries, creative & business. I find I need both. As an independent photographer, I have found that I can melt these together and it satisfies my “crazy”.
When it comes to creating images, I am drawn to bright, vivid colors as well as stark black and whites, I’m also drawn to extreme textures from soft, creamy bokehs to sharp, edgy contrasts. Am I aware that most artists pick a niche/style and focus their energy there? Yes. Do I care? No. 😉 I’ve been made aware on more than one occasion that I don’t do things “right” in finding where I fit. I now embrace that I don’t really fit anywhere and it’s my decision to focus my energy on all-the-things! Sometimes, I just want to take an image from the camera and leave it alone, only tweaking the tiniest of things. A highlight here, a shadow there. Other times, I want to take an image I really-really LIKE out of the camera, and enhance it in a more dramatic way into something I LOVE.
I’m not talking about throwing a filter on and calling it a day. Here’s a taste of how the magic happens!
An image before vs. image after...
Photographers get lucky a lot! It’s an art of observation so we notice things and know when and how to capture that. But, there’s also a side that is not at all a “happy accident”. It’s all planned and carried out meticulously because we want to make it SEEM like it just happened that way (or in some cases, we want to make it extreme and obviously not as it came out of the camera)!
Take this image I've shared recently, for example:
Wardrobe? Planned. Location? Planned. Time of day? Planned. Lighting? Planned.
I was thrilled with the set because I got to have that control I crave. I was thrilled with the images because I realized I could dive in a bit deeper!
This was shot on my Nikon D7500. We were wrapping up at our final stop of 3 locations and the sun was going down. I use a MagMod Pro Kit with Godox speed lights in a lot of my shooting because I like to play with light and shadow. It allows me a lot of ease with wireless capabilities. Off camera flash is even helpful during midday shoots providing a great fill light to lessen the harsh lighting on a sunny afternoon.
For this shot, you can see, the sun was to her back and low, we were losing it pretty fast. I placed my off-camera flash to illuminate my model rather than have her in the shadow. The sunset was providing a little bit of warm glow to the tree line and ground which was exactly what I wanted. My plan was to keep the frame wide, so I kept that in mind when placing my light as it would have to be edited out.
I post process using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I like the image with some minor color enhancing right in Lightroom, but something made me want more so… since I had to edit my light out in Photoshop, I decided to make a few additional changes. In the original, once the light source had been removed, one would be left to wonder how her face was lit given the sunset was to her back... I decided to source a different sky and then enhanced that with sun rays.
Photoshop works in layers. This meant selecting the original sky and popping the new one in that shape (in its own layer).
The sun rays are another layer which had to be screened to remove any other information from that particular overlay. This step created too much of a haze over my subject, so I selected her and the foreground in the original layer carefully, copied those details into a new layer and placed that on top of the others. The subject and foreground layers were then adjusted to brighten and sharpen them. A few other tweaks here and there, and then the image was flattened to create the final product!
Not all sessions are built for this and not every image can’t be altered in the same ways. There is a lot of thought, planning, time and experience put into the details!