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"Not a girl, not yet a woman" - B. Spears

OK! Senior Portraiture might be a new favorite for me. I mean come on, these two are JUST PRECIOUS! Did I say precious? I can feel them cringing as I write this. I guess I'm officially at the age where I look at 18 year olds and my inner narrator goes, "Awwwwww". I'm going to reminisce and reflect a bit here before I go into the more photography specific content so humor me a moment, if you will. As a woman who just turned 30 last year, my mind and my heart still remember the barrage feelings that envelope senior year but, even more, the next 5-10 years that come after. When you graduate from high school you think you know everything, and well, you do. I mean it's a universal truth that 18 year old think they have it all figured out. You were once that 18 year old too. They've "seen enough things" to know what’s coming next, (you definitely remember this), bring yourself back there for a moment. They have successfully navigated through 18 years of childhood and 12 years of grade school and they are ready to face what comes next. Truly. They have a pretty great track record of getting through it. Even if they don’t have a plan yet. We "adults" mistake this confidence for arrogance instead of recognizing where it comes from. Now the next stage of life, as you now know, (and they soon will), is a season of unlearning and relearning and will, no doubt, take jabs at that confidence along the way. If we've belittled the fresh "real worlders" instead of understanding the angst and excitement of this evolutionary time, we're going to miss the opportunity for them to share with us as they butterfly into this new phase of their lives. It's a refinement. I'll share a little of what that was like for me. My 20's was a self-exploratory season where I really discovered things about myself that had been hidden away, put on a shelf, repressed or criticized into obscurity. I also had to unlearn parts of myself that became my personality that, simply put, weren't me at all. When you're no longer held to the standards of living in your parents house or going to school with the teachers that taught your siblings or watched you grow up from a young age and now have no expectations placed upon you by outside forces, it's a new found freedom where you feel like you get to "decide" who you can be. That just a passing feeling though. What you're doing during this time is shedding all the excess and trying on new "clothes", and shedding some more until you get closer and closer to finding out who you are beneath all of that. It is HARD. It is SCARY. It is FREEING. It is UNCOMFORTABLE. I was baptized at the age of 29, 8 months pregnant with my 4th child. I now, finally, feel like me. I found myself in Christ after YEARS of looking for myself in the world. (I can't write a post without giving Glory to The Father). Seeing these seniors about to embark on this new adventure made me feel so hopeful. These kids are SMART. They have so much ahead of them and so much to TEACH us about themselves as they learn it. No matter how much we think we know them, the version of themselves that will emerge in a few years will be totally different. *Reminder to self* re-read this when my own kids are 18. I want to journey with them when they let me in instead of interjecting or projecting or assuming or instructing... I want to watch them traverse the highs and the lows of the 20's and be a friend and confidant if they'll allow. But what I need to remember, is that this season is theirs. It's no longer about the parents or the teachers or the friends they had before, it's about them, going out and making their way and discovering themselves. Let them! *Note to self*.

On to the things I learned from my models in this session. This generation of "kids" grew up with the facade that the internet can create if we're not intentional about being "filter free". They've seen fake and they reject it. The pinterest perfect houses don't match their real experiences and they are drawn, magnetically, to raw and real content and interactions as a result. They wrestle at times with crippling anxiety as they see the generations directly before them trying to curate perfection (perceived or real) and recognize they never will fit that mold. They want to be talked to and listened to, not in a feigned interest kind of way, in a real, silly, just be yourself because my BS detector is STRONG kind of way. They grew up with youtube teaching them more than they ever learned in school and now theres tiktok and fast paced video content revolutionizing the way they absorb information and learn. They crave concise information without all the fluff in a way that is uniquely theirs. It's altering their information processing in ways we won't keep up with unless we engage with them, regularly, genuinely. These kids are smart. They're quick witted. They're more knowledgeable in so many diverse ways we just weren't. Yeah but... yeah yeah I know, there are always downsides, but you've gotta look at the positives and engage with them on their terf. They WANT to show you. They appreciate when you try. They wanna pick and poke fun of you mispronouncing their new trendy verbiage but not in a mean-spirited way. They want real. IT IS UNBELIEVABLY REFRESHING!

OK OK! You've stuck with me this far! Let's talk about what I've learned about photography lately. After spending some time researching portraiture and depth of field, I got a new lens for this shoot. Not an expensive one, I'm still holding off on any major investments until I've booked a few paying clients. (Hint, Hint!) What I'm learning about depth of field told me I needed what is called a macro lens. These lenses give you that beautiful foreground/subject in focus, background blur that makes your subject pop and your photo so appealing. The detail shots were taken using this lens and HI! I'm obsessed! The lense I bought is a refurbished Canon EFS 24mm that I picked up for a little over $100. Worth every penny. Some of my frustration has been achieving the correct exposure for my photographs to get that super sharp image quality. To that end I memorized the exposure triangle only to let go of those numbers and specifics, later in the week. I came across a brilliant blog post that helped me learn to lean more into my own creativity as I grow in my understanding of the science of capturing light. This concept really appealed to me and so I'll link the blog post below for anyone interested in learning alongside me. I'm very much still learning and growing and I know you'll see that just in the progression of these photos. Some are incredibly sharp others have room for improvement. I'm not embarrassed or prideful either way and I genuinely crave feedback that I can learn from. This little side business is giving me so much confidence and growth and I'm loving taking you all on the journey with me. If you've read to this point, thank you SO much for taking the time. If you're a budding photographer, like me, I encourage you to reach out if you want and we can learn together.



My Camera: Canon REbel T6i

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