I had the honor of doing a shoot for three beautiful high school senior girls. The unique challenge I love about these shoots is the idea of meeting a complete stranger and then immediately working with them to draw out their inner beauty and confidence so that it can be captured behind a camera. There is certainly an amount of vulnerability that is required. It takes time to build a level of trust before most people are willing to let their guard down a bit, but it’s necessary in order to capture the authentic view of them. I think that’s why senior sessions are one of my favorite type of shoots. For families with young children, I can go into a shoot with high energy and act goofy with the little ones. I can have them interact with each other to draw out their playfulness and affection. It’s entirely different with seniors.
There is a perceived risk with being vulnerable, which can cause people to be guarded, but it is such a powerful thing because it leads to connections and authenticity. You can easily see it in people’s eyes and there’s no mistaking it in images. I have taken images of people where I can instantly tell they’re not feeling comfortable. Whether it’s because of the camera or some other internal factor, it is very apparent when I see it back on the screen. Knowing this, as a photographer, it’s not just my job to click the shutter and move on, but I need to find a way to get at that vulnerability. It varies with age and experience of course, so it can take time for me to develop that trust, but once I do, I know I can get those images that speak to your heart.
After the shoot, I received one of the best compliments from the mother. She wrote to me: “We all so enjoyed ourselves and in particular each of the girls left feeling beautiful, comfortable and recognized.” That is my exact goal with every senior shoot I take on. If every senior walked away from their shoot feeling those 3 things, then I have achieved my job, and the final images will speak for themselves.
It was so much fun capturing all of them and I wish them the very best this senior year. May it be filled with hard work, fun, laughter, and some of the best memories of a lifetime.