Posts in SENIORS
Karate Twins | Senior Session at Yellowcreek Park
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Sometimes even when it’s gross and rainy out, your senior session can still be amazing, like Josh and Jacob’s shoot at Yellowcreek Park in Indiana, PA. Josh and Jacob are twins (obv!), and definitely have similar interests like karate and their love of the outdoors, but when I finally got their names straight and spent a little time with them, I discovered they are definitely very different! Josh was the goofball of the group, hugging trees and sticking his tongue out - and I was excited to grab a few candid shots showing that side! Jacob was very outgoing and enjoyed making small talk - he plans on being a PA someday, and I think his easygoing personality will benefit him greatly! Josh is thinking about going into the military, and his polite and attentive nature with take him far there, too - not to mention the discipline both of them have learned through years of karate! They are both 2nd degree blackbelts in Tang Soo Do karate, and were very knowledgable. It was fun for me to learn about what “correct” form is and to get the timing right for kicks and punches! (Big shout out to my friend Jackie for letting me rent out her studio for these shots!)

Both boys were very friendly and good sports, not letting the cold, drizzly day before we got to the studio get the best of them. So what happens when you schedule a senior session and the weather is just awful? I know it sounds super “basic”, but base it off of your hair. If you have hair that tends to frizz, and you don’t want that in your photos, then it would be best to reschedule. Literally anything else, like mud, snow, drizzle, light, can be overcome with a creative photographer and a willing subject! Downpours can also be fun - but maybe for the extreme among us! I’m okay under my umbrella if you want to get drenched, we can create something awesome!!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
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Senior Session at Point State Park, Pittsburgh
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Cas may live in Indiana, PA, but for her senior photo session she really wanted a more urban, big city feel, which is why we ended up at some of the coolest places in Pittsburgh! If you’re a senior, I can’t stress enough how important it is to spend some time talking to your photographer to let them know your interests, talents, hobbies, and vision for your shoot. We were able to incorporate Cas’s love of color, art, coffee, music, and urban life by having a little bit of knowledge about the area and a whole lot of knowledge about what makes her unique!

We started out at Randyland, a wonderfully fun and quirky (and colorful!!) public art spot in the North Side of Pittsburgh. You can check out more about it here!

As a coffee connoisseur, Cas and I thought it would be appropriate to do a few shots after downing a cappuccino in the city’s best coffee spot. Luckily right down the street from Randyland is Commonplace Coffee in the Mexican War Streets area. We did a few shots in front of the town houses that line Buena Vista street before heading to the coffee shop. The owner was very kind to let us capture some snaps while we enjoyed our lattes.

A shoot in Pittsburgh would also not be complete with some of those iconic yellow Pittsburgh bridges, the Point State Park fountain, and the 3 rivers!! We headed to the fountain right at dusk to get some truly breathtaking and twinkly shots! Also, have you ever seen a bassoon at the Point? Well, you’re about to!

I hope you enjoy what was probably my favorite senior sessions ever (the fact that we ate IronBorn Pizza for dinner and Millie’s Ice Cream for dessert didn’t hurt either!)

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
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Timing Your Spring Senior Session
 high school senior model with denim jacket in front of flowering dogwood tree

If you want jaw-dropping senior photos, start planning right now! The trees are starting to blossom and nights are coming later, which means that you can get the same color-injected, gorgeous backdrops featured here! Ever wonder how photographers get that warm, deliciously amazing light that makes their photos glow? I certainly did. After lots of soul searching this month, this webinar watching, cash-dropping light chaser vowed to stop saying to myself "I'll just fix it in (computer software of choice)", and decided to get. that. glow.

It all starts with paying attention. If you are planning a shoot, look up when sunset is, and plan your shoot an hour or two before that. Carrie was graciously flexible and patient and we adjusted our start time to make sure her photos would be kick-you-in-the-face gorgeous. Usually somewhere between 5pm and 7pm is a good place to start!

HOW $20 DRASTICALLY CHANGED MY PHOTOS

Photography is expensive. Gear is pricey. Time is valuable. The cost of both is critical is this business, but some simple, good decisions can help you reap major benefits! I bought this $20 reflector in keeping with my vow to never "fix it in (computer software)" again. It makes a HUGE difference in lighting your portrait subject's face, and gives you the freedom to position your new friend in front of those beautiful golden backgrounds and still make sure the light is just right. Plus now you can call yourself a light bender and that sounds kind of cool.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these shots of Carrie's senior session! She is quite an amazing lady - manager of a baseball team at school, a solid member of the volleyball team for years, an advocate for MS, exchange program participant, AP class all-star, and lover of ice cream! Meadows, anyone?
 

 high school senior model behind volleyball net with Westchester University college shirt
 high school senior model posed with purple volleyball wearing a west chester university college hat
 high school senior model with off the shoulder yellow lace top posing in front of arches at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania
 high school senior model with yellow lace off the shoulder top holding melting ice cream with rainbow sprinkles in front of the meadows ice cream store in Indiana, PA
 high school senior model with denim jacket in front of flowering dogwood tree
 high school senior model standing in front of covered bridge wearing a floral summer dress
 high school senior model twirling floral summer dress on a back country raos with trees
 high school senior model wearing light blue shift dress and blue floral heels looking over shoulder and laughing on top of a parking garage in the city
 high school senior model in light blue shift dress standing on top of parking garage overlooking city of Indiana PA
 headshot using reflector of high school senior model in light blue shift dress standing on top of parking garage overlooking city of Indiana PA
 top down shot of high school senior model laughing in light blue shift dress standing on top of parking garage overlooking city of Indiana PA
 
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What Are You Willing to Do for Great Photos?
 high school senior photo of girl with glasses leaning against a tree in the fall at Chimney Rocks in Hollidaysburg PA

Do you have one of those people in your life where they have a complete disregard to personal safety, comfort, and convenience? Yeah, I'm one of those. Over the years, I have done some pretty weird and stupid things for the sake of photography. To gear up for senior pic season this spring, I'm sharing some of the strangest locations, stunts, and situations that I've survived to tell about during a senior shoot. Just kidding, it's not nearly that ominous.

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LAYED IN THE MIDDLE OF A BUSY COLLEGE CAMPUS

Okay, so this one is pretty tame, but to get this beautiful shot of Hannah, we both crawled on the ground on the main walkway of one of the biggest party schools in the country, good 'ol IUP!

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CLIMBED A TREE

Tree, bleachers, railing, fencing... if I can hoist myself up there, you better believe I will! This golden sunlight was  TO DIE FOR during Joelle's shoot, and I was totally willing to get up in the trees with her to make sure I captured it!

 High school senior model wearing sundress sitting on wooden chair in a field of flowers

BUSHWHACKED THROUGH JAGGER BUSHES

I love getting foreground in my images, and sometimes the only way to do that is to grit your teeth, walk through the jaggers, and crouch down in the middle of it all! These little flowers behind St. Bernard's perfectly matched Kayla's dress, so it was really a no-brainer to go play in the flowers

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RISKED GETTING ARRESTED FOR TRESPASSING

Brendon was a great sport when I asked him to crunch up and sit in-between these two brick buildings near Grace Church! The light coming in from the back was awesome, and I love the vanishing point perspective the patterned walls gave! Too bad we looked SUPER shady when we came back out onto the street! haha!

 blonde high school senior model in vintage car with petina

TOOK A CHANCE WITH TETANUS

I. love. classic. cars. Maybe it's because my dad was a gear head, but I am always drawn to cars. Abby was a great sport when I asked her to romp around a rusty classic car graveyard to get some cool, colorful, textured shots!

 blonde high school senior male model in red ford mustang claifornia special

STOLE AN EXPENSIVE CAR

Just kidding! I only borrowed it!  Adam was a big Mustang fan, and my mother graciously let me take her baby out to a photo shoot at Greenhouse Park - it was the easiest way to get Adam to smile, that's for sure!

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GOT WET. REALLY WET.

There's at least one shoot a year where I will wade into a lake, but this shoot with Whitney called for a whole other level of dedication. Waist deep in a slippery, fast moving creek doesn't come without consequences! The previous year I did a similar shoot and slipped backwards. Luckily my camera went straight up into the air, safe and dry, but my iPhone in my back pocket however...

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Make Your Senior Session Totally Amazing | Indiana, PA Senior Photographer
 Blonde high school senior model with white lace dress standing by a tree and sunset.

Thinking about getting your senior photos done, but worried they won't represent you accurately? I'm sharing some tips on how to dress and choose the perfect location to make sure your photos capture everything that makes you amazingly and uniquely you. When I photograph my seniors, it's one of those most fun and magical aspects of my job. I love making your photos fun, vibrant, and "different" from everyone else's.

Lots of seniors come to me because of the colorful, joyful style my photos take on. Maybe it's because I grew up in the 90's with a Lisa Frank Trapper keeper, or maybe it's because I have a penchant for all things rainbow, but one thing is for certain -  I. Love. Color. When I met Erin, after noticing her striking beauty, I couldn't help but be excited about her cool outfit choices. I always encourage my seniors to bring a variety of outfit styles from dressy to casual, colorful to neutral. Above all, I want everything about the senior session to reflect their amazing personalities. Check out Erin's awesome wardrobe and how we were able to pair her choices with the perfect backdrops!

 Blonde senior model in black dress standing by roman column at Indiana University of Pennsylvania
 Blonde senior model in black dress sitting on wrought-iron bench in front of Fisher Auditorium at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
 Blonde senior model wearing maroon blouse leaning on a stack of books
 Blonde senior model in maroon blouse sitting on white rocking chair on the porch of Sutton Hall at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
 Blonde senior model with long curly hair flipped to one side
 Blonde senior model reading a book outside at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Interested in seeing more of the cool places we ventured to? Want to see more awesome outfits? Curious about how I get to know my seniors before the session starts? 

HOW TO MAKE SURE YOUR SENIOR PHOTOS HAVE PERSONALITY

It pays off in huge ways when seniors take the time to shoot me an email, message me on Facebook, text, whatever, to help me get to know them! I've posted some of my favorite questions to ask seniors below (and your answers just may help us figure out location choices!)

 Blonde senior high school model with white shorts and hot pink crop top standing in front of royal blue wall
 blonde high school senior model in white shorts and hot pink crop top throwing glitter at camera
 blonde high school model in grey crop top and skinny jeans in a seated pose between two brick buildings in an urban environment
 Blonde high school senior model with skinny jeans and gray crop top in urban setting between two brick buildings

QUESTIONS FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS

. Do you like to spend time outside?
2. What's your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
3. Do you have any hobbies?
4. Do you like to dress up, or are you more of a casual dresser?
5. Do you like dogs/have a dog?
6. What's something you're passionate about?
7. Pick some of these words to describe yourself:  classy, fun, hipster, trendy, elegant, relaxed, sporty, academic, funky, edgy, introvert, extrovert, (and any more you want to add!)

 blonde high school senior model standing on lake dock wearing white lace summer dress
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PAIRING OUTFITS WITH LOCATIONS

Start by going through your closet and choosing outfits that make you feel totally awesome. Don't be afraid to pair old things with brand new things as well. You want to be comfortable and confident throughout your session, so while there's definitely room to go out and splurge on a new top or shoes, mix in the tried and true favorites that really represent you. From there, we can look at the overall feel of the outfit and pair locations that make them shine! If you come with beanies and ripped skinnies, we will probably be heading to the city! If you have a flowered dress, we're going to find a field or a lake! Super colorful top? You already can guess I have colorful places around town scoped out just for you!

Having senior photos done can be a super fun, confidence boosting, and rewarding experience for everyone if you take a little time to connect with your photogrphaer and curate your outfits. This is a milestone you will look fondly back on for the rest of your life! I can't wait to make colorful memories with you!

The Advice You Wanted Most and All Of Your Favorites | Indiana PA Wedding, Family, and Senior Photographer
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2017 was such a great year of learning, both for me and for you! This year was the launch of some big things around here, my favorite being this blog! For the past 40 weeks, we have spent a few minutes together every week, sometimes featuring guest writers, but always showing off the vibrant and genuine heart and soul of my favorite people - YOU! Your love and support is literally everything to me and to the success of this fun little venture. It is my hope that through this special platform, we were able to connect in a way that goes way beyond showcasing my work, but that it was literally time spent creating value for YOU. Whether that be through advice for brides, answers to frequently asked questions, tips, tricks, and ideas, or just through the honest, thoughtful, genuine, voice-filled writing that shows you more of me, my family, and my heart. It is my hope that hanging out here every week has helped you learn, prepare, relax, and trust anything and everything about having photos taken and most of all, memories made.

Mushy stuff aside - remember those superlatives in your high school yearbook? Most likely to succeed? Biggest class clown? Prettiest eyes? Nicest smile? As a year end treat, I've wrapped up all of your favorite blog posts, shoots, and moments of 2017 to romp through all over again, as shown by page views analytics data! This year alone brought almost 10,000 views to my website since May, and I am so looking forward to an even bigger and more vibrant 2018!

 MOST VIEWED BLOG - What to do with your wedding dress after your wedding

MOST VIEWED BLOG - What to do with your wedding dress after your wedding

 MOST HELPFUL BLOG POST - Make your handwriting a font

MOST HELPFUL BLOG POST - Make your handwriting a font

 BEST BLOG FOR SENIORS - Who to bring along on your senior session

BEST BLOG FOR SENIORS - Who to bring along on your senior session

 BEST BLOG FOR FAMILIES - Are Your Kids Old Enough For Family Photos?

BEST BLOG FOR FAMILIES - Are Your Kids Old Enough For Family Photos?

 BEST BLOG FOR BRIDES - Not Your Average Wedding Tips

BEST BLOG FOR BRIDES - Not Your Average Wedding Tips

 BEST BLOG FOR BRIDESMAIDS - 10 Lessons for Bridesmaids

BEST BLOG FOR BRIDESMAIDS - 10 Lessons for Bridesmaids

 MOST PUBLISHED WEDDING - Dan + Danielle | Car Themed Wedding at Farm on the Ridge

MOST PUBLISHED WEDDING - Dan + Danielle | Car Themed Wedding at Farm on the Ridge

 MOST LIKED WEDDING ON SOCIAL MEDIA - Wayne + Cortney | Gatsby Themed Wedding at People's Natural Gas Park

MOST LIKED WEDDING ON SOCIAL MEDIA - Wayne + Cortney | Gatsby Themed Wedding at People's Natural Gas Park

 MOST READ PERSONAL BLOG - Why You Need Marriage Counseling

MOST READ PERSONAL BLOG - Why You Need Marriage Counseling

 MOST INFLUENTIAL EXPERIENCE OF 2017 - Winter Wedding in the Poconos

MOST INFLUENTIAL EXPERIENCE OF 2017 - Winter Wedding in the Poconos

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Who to Bring Along to Your Photo Session | Indiana PA Senior Photographer
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This time of year, lots of people are getting family photos taken with screaming kids, maybe grandparents, or even a fluffy pooch in tow and it may be tempting to call in the troops to help you manage it all - here I'm sharing tips for those who are asked to be a part of the fun and assist during a photo shoot! Over the summer when senior sessions are in full swing, it's common to have your mom or dad to come along to share in the experience and make it less awkward spending a few hours with a total stranger. I have seen lots of clients even invite along friends to wrangle dogs, grandmas to soothe babies, and siblings to hang out during their family portrait sessions too. I LOVE meeting new people, and am always so grateful for an extra set of hands! So, from a photographer's point of view, if you are considering having someone come along for your senior or family shoot, here's some things to share with them!

When the Camera Goes Up, the Volume Goes Down

I spent years as a studio photographer, where it was very common for a crowd to walk in with those being photographed. It's still common now, especially during family shoots, for sisters, friends, grandmas, etc. to come along to "help make the kids smile." The best thing you can do is watch the photographer and when the camera goes up, allow him or her to be the only one communicating with the family, kids, senior, etc. Your photographer has likely had hundreds of subjects in front of their camera and has some tried and true tricks on how to get their subject to authentically smile - in fact, you can read some of those tricks here! The photographer has a certain look or emotion they are trying to coax out of the subject, and it is the most helpful to allow him or her the chance to have the model's complete attention to ensure that happens.

There's No Such Thing As Personal Space

This is more for family sessions, but if a photographer does ask you, the trusty friend or mom, to help get the subject's attention, it's best to stand directly behind him or her. I tell people to basically jump on top of me. If you are trying to coax the gaze of a three-nager directly into the camera, it's best to have the person they are looking at or watching be as close to the lens as possible. Get all up in my biz!

Be a Pack Mule

Here's for all you senior moms and dads. I get this question a lot - is it normal for a parent to come along on a senior shoot? The answer? It's perfectly normal! About 50% of my seniors come to their session with their mom or dad. And as insensitive as it sounds, it's really helpful to everyone if a parent can be a coat rack, more or less. Senior sessions are all about the clothes, am I right? Without minimizing the importance of you wonderful parents out there, it's important that the photographer can get to know the amazing son or daughter you already know so well. Teenagers can be a bit introverted around strangers, and the best thing you can do to help your teenager feel comfortable is to show your quiet support by taking care of the details like holding and organizing their outfit changes.

Let Me Teach You Something

Here's a fun tip for anyone, at any type of session: let me put you to work. I love when folks are interested in the process of the photo taking, and not just focused on getting the subjects to smile. That's my job! I love, too, when you are willing to learn something and excited to help out! Something I've found that people are thrilled to help with is holding a reflector. The photo session as a whole should be an enjoyable experience for everyone, and I've found that when willing parents and friends are teachable and become involved in creating the photo by holding a shiny silver disc, they take ownership of the end product. They too become excited to see a perfectly lit subject, and how their small effort of holding a homing beacon for ET can affect the quality so much. So many people have a closet interest in photography, and I am more than happy to teach and explain anything and everything you want to ask me!


For the senior session highlighted below, Katie chose to come to her senior session by herself. I think it's wise to know yourself and know how you are around strangers, and if being alone with your photographer will push you to talk a little more, that's probably the wisest choice. Katie and I had no problem keeping the conversation going as she taught me about her interests, her family, and her inspirations for the future! I hope you enjoy the highlights of her beautiful session below!

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Choosing The Right Style for Your Shoot | Indiana Area Senior High Photographer
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You're graduating, and you want some great senior photos that fit your style. How do you choose the right photographer? One great thing for clients is that today's senior photography market is totally saturated. You have lots of options to capture your milestone year just the way you want to remember it. There are photographers out there that are just starting out so they can offer you photos at a great price. There are photographers that have been doing this for decades, so you can get a studio session with classic posing and colored backdrops. There are photographers that make you look like models with airbrushed skin, ring lights in your eyes, and flawless.... everything! Lastly, there's photographers that live in the realm I like to play in that captures you, your town, things you love, just as you/it/they are!

#CommunityOverCompetition

Good photographers will embrace the #CommunityOverCompetition mindset made so popular by the Rising Tide Society, and online support network and common space for creatives that understand that "A rising tide floats all boats." Good photographers will have a consistent style, branding, and transparency that makes it easy to know which "category" they fit into, and if that's not what you're looking for, they will point you in the right direction.

Knowing What You Want

When Jordan and her sweet mom Linda reached out to me, the topic of "style" was very much at the forefront of their minds. While lots of her classmates book sessions with other photographers in town with different styles, Jordan and her mom expressed that they appreciated my "real" style and that above all, Jordan just wanted to "look like herself."

Vibrant, Thoughtful, Genuine Photos

I take pride in my vibrant, genuine, and thoughtful style. These aren't just words that I like to throw around. They are the literal objective guiding force that encapsulates me personality and my heart. When I launched my marketing plan full force, I asked friends to give me words that described me and my work. Over and over, the words "thoughtful", "genuine", "fun", and "colorful" came up. And those are exactly the images that resonate with me. I worked hard to create an editing style that was vibrant without being unnatural. I pride myself in client relations to create thoughtful shooting location ideas, and try to make a personal connection to capture genuine joy and emotion in the photos. These three things together are the flagship of my business, "vibrant photography that is thoughtfully and genuinely you." (does anyone else always want to put two L's in genuinelly?!)

I hope you enjoy the photos from this sweet Homecoming Queen's natural, genuine senior session. She clearly doesn't need any digital help to be absolutely stunning (and she's just as amazing on the inside!) See the complete album here!

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See the complete album here!

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Do you remember your senior photos? Why your senior year is a milestone, and why it deserves portraits
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Up until recently, senior photos have been just kinda of.... meh. I remember getting mine done in 2005 - our school forced us to go to one particular photography studio (how do I get THAT gig?!), and we could have the laser background (I KNOW you know what I'm talking about), or the textured grey. My photographer was particularly fancy and put a gel over his light, making it pink to match my shirt. If you were willing to be a candidate for further awkward torture, you got to change outfits, sit on plastic columns, prop your elbows up on other strange posing furniture, and try to look awesome in front of the airbrushed grapevines and stone bridges. I was even nice enough to include my old senior photo here for your amusement.

Even though I hated all the other poses and I thought the whole experience was tacky, it was a still a milestone. I have very clear memories of this day, and I'm especially glad that I do because it was my dad who took me to the studio. He wasn't much of a fuss-over-your-looks kind of person, but I remember him helping me carry my large cumbersome instrument up the narrow studio steps, and I remember the short, vague compliments he offered that really meant the world to me, especially now that he's gone. 

Your senior year is the last year you spend reveling in "life as you know it." It's when you will make amazing memories with your friends that you see everyday, because soon, you won't. It's likely the last time you will live at home - and if you're still living in your parents basement at 27, it will never quite be the same as it was when you were in high school! This year is so formative in who we will become. I often think that forcing an 18 year old to choose a career path isn't exactly fair. Sometimes I feel guilty for not using my English degree, but I didn't know what I wanted, nor had the formative experiences I needed, when I was 18.

Senior year is one of the last years, at least for a good long time, where everything still makes sense. Where you have a good idea of who you are, and how you fit into the world. Most times it's when you are in top physical shape, too. And if that in itself doesn't deserve a portrait session, what does?! Looking back on your senior photos should be a way to remember your interests, your passions, your style. That's why it's so important to me to capture the personality of my seniors, to take them to places special to them. It's "the glory days" for sure, and I just love making sure every sweet facet of it is remembered!

Dylan, who I had the pleasure of photographing last week, is headed to Penn State to study computer science. An avid nature lover, he requested that a part of his session take place in an incredible forest and beside a beautiful stream on property that his family owns. After capturing memories in a place where he has spent so much time fishing, camping, and building structures that would make any boy scout jealous, we got some more "fancy" photos around town. I just love how a totally different location can change the entire feel of the shoot! I hope you enjoy the may sides of Dylan in these highlights below!

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The Search Engine You Probably Aren't Using | Pittsburgh Senior Photographer at Phipps Conservatory

INSTAGRAM CAN HELP YOU

There is no doubt that the place people are hanging out online these days is Instagram. You may have heard that Facebook is "dead" and Twitter is just for famous people, but one thing is for certain, the social media world is ever changing, so it's good to be savvy with all of these  juggernauts and make them work in your favor! You may have never thought of Instagram as a search engine, but it definitely is! Just like Pinterest! The key is knowing how and what to search for on each platform! 

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

Ever heard of hashtags? Of course you have, you don't live under a rock, I presume! Hashtags are an awesome way to search Instagram for anything you could want to see a picture of. Open the app, click that magnifying glass, and explore! If you want to be inundated with cuteness, search #puppies, if you want to find a gym type #yourcitygym, if you want to hire a photographer, type #yourcityphotographer. And you know what's great? When professionals are diligent and consistent with their hash tagging, this brings up a portfolio of sorts, so you can quickly peruse and find a vendor you like the style of right away. This really works, people. I was so honored that the beautiful Kayla, who's senior photos are featured here, found me on Instagram in this exact way! Instagram! I was hired through Instagram. (My mind is still blown!)

FIND A LOCAL SPOT

The other feature Instagram touts is the geo-tag! By adding a location to your post, people can tap on the location that's tagged above your photo and it opens up not only a map, but other photos tagged in that location! It's literally a way to discover a city through photos! And that's exactly how I found such cool and colorful places that fit both Kayla's style and my brand for her shoot. We had a starting point of Phipps Conservatory , heralded especially for its beautiful flowers and greenery. But I definitely wanted to switch it up from there and take advantage of Pittsburgh's urban vibe, and of course I'm a fanatic for color! By searching the neighborhood Phipps is located in, Oakland, on Instagram, we found an amazing bridge covered in locks that was walking distance from Phipps, and a killer mural on the side of a Mad Mex about 5 minutes away! I hope you enjoy Kayla's senior pics - the whole experience and opportunity was a match made in Instagram heaven!