I met Danielle for the first time in the office of my make up artist, Kelli Thomsen. I remember that she was wearing a t-shirt that stated specifcally "Jeep Hair, Don't Care," as she asked if she could ride with me to her senior photos so as not to mess up her hair. Instantly I was in love and my thoughts drifted to that song, American Girl, by Tom Petty as we chatted together, myself, her mom, and her awesome mom's best friend. You know the one, right?
"Well, she was an American girl
Raised on promises
That there was a little more to life somewhere else
After all it was a great big world"
and the Heartbreakers
Maybe it was the American flag she wanted to include in her photos. Maybe it was her fresh smile and shining blue eyes. Or Maybe it was her love for accounting, fishing, and jeeps. It could have been that we drove to take her senior photos at a location close to her heart. I look forward to seeing where life takes this young lady and I am hoping that she keeps her word and comes back to be my accountant some day...because everyone knows that most creatives, myself included, could always use a great accountant.
I have the soul of dancer however I am abysmally untrained so when I had the opportunity to take the high school senior photos of a ballerina my whole heart danced with excitement. I love incorporating the individuality and unique beauty of my seniors into their sessions.
We spent about 10 minutes of our session dancing....well she danced, this happy valley photographer took photos. Her cellular phone was set off to the side playing some beautiful classical tune inspiring this sweet ballerina, Emma to dance. Her mom shared with me that this is a hobby of hers, putting on her cell phone and dancing. Isn't it a beautiful one?
Dancing is like dreaming with your feet - Contanze
Another thing I loved about this senior photo sessions is that I get to capture so many different personality shots. I love seeing so many different smiles and expression emerge from my seniors.
Congratulations Emma! June is just around the corner. I can not wait to see what you do next and can not I wait to purchase tickets for your next ballet.
Often I am asked by both customers and other photographers how and why I specialize in high school senior photography. Many times I have heard, "Especially girls! They are so much drama." Hmmm....I am not sure about that drama thing. Possibly I have just been super, fantastically lucky to have had only clients that inspire me to do my best, try new things, and like to have fun. How lucky am I? My time with my girls truly makes my heart sing and honestly, who doesn't want their heart to sing all the time? I know I do.
In all seriousness though, let's talk senior photos. For example, let's take mine. Now I do not want to age myself so I will not go into too many details but I will reveal that wore a navy blue tennis sweater....which was very much in style that year...I think??? Whatever, okay so I wasn't very cool. I am getting of track here. The whole point of this blogpost is that my high school senior photo experience left me feeling self conscious, creeped out, and embarrassed. Thanks for choosing the weird, lonely photographer man in his 50's to take my photos, Mom. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) I am not saying that he was at all inappropriate or asked me to do anything out of the ordinary. I am simply saying that I did not feel comfortable and all of the photos reflect my uncomfortable feelings. Bummer...senior photos happen only once.
I love watching my girls transform from unsure to confident. To their unique selves in front of the camera. I try my best to keep my sessions light and fun. I spend the extra time getting to know each and every kiddo because I really do care that they enjoy their photo session. It is important, it happens only once, and it should reflect your real smile. It should be fun and make you feel beautiful.
I love a good wedding. You know the ones....where you can just feel the love coming off of the couple. That bright eyed, dreamy gaze the bride and groom have for each other. How both Moms tear up when watching their kiddos get ready for the big day. Oh geez, my heart is seriously getting mushy just thinking about it.
Justin and Alice tied the knot this summer at Rossi Farms in Portland, Or. Justin's Mom handmade all of the flowers used in the wedding ceremony and we are not just talking about the bridal bouquet. She covered an entire arch with them. It was incredible!
Even more incredible though was how relaxed everyone was. Typically most weddings that I have been to have many folks scrambling around doing busy last minute wedding things. Not here, no sirree. Alice had meticulously organized and planned the whole event and it's set up with a very detailed and oddly not at all bridazilla-ee spreadsheet which appeared to have been followed to a tee. She is just an organized girl.
The wedding ceremony was short and sweet and both the bride and groom wrote their own vows which were incredibly personal and beautiful. I am so happy and blessed that I got to be part of their big day! Congratulation you two!
This year I decided to expand my Senior Photo program and make it bigger. I started a year long experience that allows for my girls to get comfortable in front of the camera while modelling for fashion boutiques. I call it the Senior Model Club.
Our first fashion experience was for Grapevine Fashion Boutique in Lake Oswego. Their expert staff assisted my high school senior model team with styling. Each girl selected one dressy look and one more casual.
Professional make up and hair is an absolute must for completing the fabulous looks! We started our day in Southeast Portland getting pampered by the ever talented Kelli Thomsen Beauty. Kelli worked her magic using her natural skin care products, adding false eyelashes, and giving the girls the camera ready looks.
Next we spent a melting hot evening in downtown Lake Oswego taking fashion photos and having a ball doing so. We completed our first experience with ice cream...because ice cream simply makes everything better!
One of the many things I love about photography is the learning opportunities. There is always a new lighting technique or something else to learn. This year I have made it my mission to conquer the world of off camera flash. I bought myself some new strobe lights and have been experimenting all winter. My photography bag is now a wagon. LOL! Bringing lights, light stands, props, and my camera lenses and gear is not a small feat. However the results are spectacular!
One of my my favorite quotes about sisters and one I believe truly captures the essences of this photograph.
"When traveling life’s journey
it’s good to have a
sister’s hand to hold on to.”
These two sisters are so sweet. I could tell by the way they interacted with each other how much love and respect they have for one another. Having fun, making each other laugh. I was so honored to be able to provide photos to capture their relationship during their teen years. The relationship between them is so sweet and they brought their smiles.
I love the way my new light modifier adds the perfect little catch lights in their eyes and provides such flattering light without looking unnatural.
Wedding days can be full of shenanigans. That is just one of the things I love so much about them. I love the silliness, the fact that everyone looks absolutely amazing, the excitement, the sentimental moments both large and small.
That is one of the reasons that I got so excited to travel from Happy Valley to photograph the wedding of Tim and Sarah at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course. I had already gotten to know both the bride and groom in our consultations. I saw how in love they are and how relaxed and laid back they were.
It is truly an honor and a delight to be part of a day so full of joy. Just one more reason that I love my job!
This year I entered my first photo competition. I was both nervous and excited as when my photo came up for judging. I could feel the butterlies in my stomach. I had no idea what the photos of others that entered the contest looked like, only that I loved mine. All of the questions self doubt entered my head. Would it be anywhere close to good enough? I thought so and now that I was seeing my photo up for judging I was uncertain. Was I naive for entering a print competition with real photographers to judge?
The contest was for high school senior photos only. I saw my photo displayed with a medal. Needless to say I was beyond thrilled. Here is my Sync Print Competition Award of Excellence winning photo.
Owning my own photography business can be tough. Times like this make it exciting, and getting to know my clients make it impossible not to love.
High school senior sessions are one of my favorites. I love getting to know and spend so much time one on one with each of my clients. I sit with them and chat during their hair and makeup session finding out all of the amazing things they have planned for the future. Rarely do I get the opportunity to spend so much time with my clients.
Sometimes when I am photographing a high school senior a different personality emerges with each costume change. It is so interesting to watch the process from behind my camera.
This Sherwood high school senior photo session at Happy Valley Park and ended it in Portland. This particular high school senior started out our session as the goofy, sometime clumsy girl next store. Always ready to laugh and smile sheepishly around turn while I took for photos. Some how by the end of the day she had morphed into a fashion model right before me eyes. I loved every moment of your session Audrey and all of the personalities that emerged.
Digital, digital, digital....I get this question all of the time as a Happy Valley photographer. Why can't I just have all of my digital files? I have to admit I thought about it when I first started my business and I do offer packages that are a mixture of both digital files and prints. It is upon delivering the final wall art, prints, or albums that truly makes me my thrilled with my job. Knowing that I am giving my customers something they will truly treasure and I love seeing their face when they see the final product. I just can not get that with a digital file.
Let me ask you this...when was the last time you took out that old CD Rom or flashdrive and looked at your family, wedding, or high school senior photos? Did you have the best of intentions of creating an album or ordering prints when you received them? I know I always did. Oh wait, does your current computer even have a CD Rom drive? Or what about your old computer...has it ever crashed and burned taking your treasured photos with it? The forms of digital delivery have changed so much over the years. But then there is print.
Print products are forever. Tangible. Hanging on the wall to make you to smile. Reminding you of that special moment or significant time in your life, your child's life, or a treasured loved one. I love curling up on the couch with my kiddos with a cup of tea, and thumbing through our family session photo albums. They delight in seeing themselves and us in the photos. I know the family heirlooms that I have created will be around for generations to come and it means a lot to me that my girls will be able to share them with their families one day.
Lori Best - mother, wife, and photographer.