Once upon a time in Suburbia, rising high school seniors made appointments for their senior photos, would drive to some random stuffy studio, the guys would don the jacket and tie and the girls would be draped in some black cloth (maybe feathery or fur-like if you were even more unlucky), and be placed in the same position as every one else for the sake of conformity. And, don’t even get me started on the vignetting! Well, thankfully the powers that be put a squash to that….mostly.
I find the current rite of passage for honoring our young adults on the verge of their last year of high school much more respectful, individualized, and most importantly…..fun! Rather than making senior photos a thing for them to dread, we can allow them to show us who they are, which is why I love senior shoots! One of my favorites, without a doubt, was with Kyah! I mean look at this fierce young woman!!
I often find that it takes a little time for the senior to warm up to being in front of the camera (especially if mom or dad are there too), but not Kyah. Nope, she rocked it from the start and we had a blast! Kyah and her mom met me downtown at Chicken Alley, a great little spot in Asheville that allows for a ton of textures in the photos and within minutes we were on a roll. We strolled around getting to know one another and it was so exciting to hear the joy in the sound of her voice as she talked about being a part of the first graduating class of the NC Virtual Academy. In between the moments of talking, I’d say, “Oh, I love that brick” and she’d be right in position. She really kind of made things easy for me, and I’m not complaining a bit, especially after having done my fair share of shoots with toddlers who have an attention span of a squirrel.
One of the benefits of doing a shoot in the early morning in a city such as Asheville during the of peak tourist season, most of “them” (the tourist vs local thing is real but friendly here) aren’t out and about yet as they are either sleeping in and off a night at of the many breweries in town, or they are all a few miles away, in line to get into the Biltmore before the other Floridians….I mean, visitors to our fine city. (I was born and raised in FL/Suburbia so relax.) Kyah was so open to finding the little hidden nooks and gems downtown, we even found a little courtyard behind a restaurant which was not yet open, took a few shots, spoke with the cleaning ladies who were prepping for the day ahead, and of course when your senior trusts you to capture her love for true crime novels, you have to get the shot in the little book store across the street! (She was only slightly mortified by this, she is a teenager after all, but went along with it.)
So one might assume a few things about Kyah after seeing some of these images, one of those assumptions might be along the lines of “city girl” only because she clearly rocked the urban part of this story. And, that would only be partly true. The reality is that it was now time for a location and wardrobe change. I’d now like to introduce you to Kyah’s other side, the side that is at home surrounded by nature, the side that at the time of this shoot was interested in becoming an Herbalist, and the past images of the badass who is currently enrolled in a local Herbalist school. (I told you she was amazing!!)
Kyah was now among the things she is most passionate about and the greenery proved to be a perfect backdrop for this beautiful young woman. As I am reflecting on this half of the shoot with her, few words seem necessary, after all part of the beauty of being in a place such as the Botanical Gardens, one can just be quiet and listen…..and, get yourself, your camera, and your senior onto the rocks in the river without a liquid mishap, move heavy benches around at the cabin to fit your vision, and, and, and….and it was all worth it.
One the things that I always try to do at some point during my senior shoots is to honor the parent who is often there, watching from the side, sometimes with tears of pride welling up in their eyes typically in spite of the fact that their seniors are rolling theirs. It is important to feel this out as to not tip the flow of what is happening for the senior, but instead let them lead that a little. Kyah was so natural in doing her thing, that it was at the end of the shoot that I took the photos of her with her mom, who I played the "3 degrees of Asheville" game with a lot during our hour and a half together. Their love and respect for one another was evident the entire shoot.
I often connect with my clients on Facebook after our shoots, and I find it special to be able to follow them after we’ve shared time together as capturing someone’s story is very real to me. I want to end the story of Kyah’s shoot by congratulating her on continuing on her path of awesomeness and her fortitude in following her dreams. I was able to see her mom post some of the pics she took on Kyah’s graduation day a few weeks ago, especially the one of Kyah holding the cap she decorated which had the words “Come What May”…..yes, Kyah, whatever happens, happens, and there is zero doubt that you’ve got this!!