A Swarthmore College senior graduate photo session with her family

February 27, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Does your college graduation checklist include a professional photo shoot? 

Here are my 6 reasons why it should and what I learned from Swarthmore College graduate, Maria and her family.

Graduating college is more than just receiving a Bachelor's degree or Master's degree or PhD—it's a culmination of years of hard work, growth, and unforgettable memories. It's often time away from your family and the people who love you but support the heck out of you, so you can grow and spread your wings.  As you look towards the next leg of your journey, investing in college senior photos is a meaningful way to celebrate this significant milestone and thank the people who are there for you each step of the way. Here are six reasons why capturing this moment is a must do!

1. You worked your butt off; celebrate all that you've achieved!!

Graduating college is a monumental accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated in a big way. Senior photos provide an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the sweat and tears that when into your academic journey and the dedication it took to reach the home stretch between being a college student and a college graduate. From late-night study sessions to awesome successes, these photos serve as a visual tribute to your resilience and determination. When I was contacted by Maria to capture her college experience with a photo session, I was immediately thrilled to learn that Maria wanted to include her biggest supporters- her family. 

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2. Share the experience with your family and the people who love you and supported you along the way!

Your college photo shoot is about you but it can also be about the people who supported you.  Scheduling a college senior photo session is an opportunity to invite your loved ones to partake in the excitement you're feeling as your graduation draws near.  Your family (and friends) are the people who stood by you, believed in you, cheered you on and provided unwavering support during the challenges of the college experience. 
 

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For Maria, she left her home state of Texas, and her family, to pursue her degree at Swarthmore College.  Despite the distance, her mom, dad and sisters celebrated her successes with genuine enthusiasm- I saw it in the smiles they shared, the laughter and the connection they had throughout our time together. It was important to Maria to share a small piece of her college experience with them and in doing so created lasting memories together.  We walked all around the campus to not only provide various backdrops in such a picturesque campus but also to capture iconic spots so Maria would have images of what became her second home.  She'd have images to look back on to remember the chair on the main quad, the library where she spent hours studying, the garden she enjoyed every spring and start of the school year.  But even more, through sharing this experience, she expressed so much gratitude for the invaluable role her family played in her Swarthmore journey.  By making our time together a family photo shoot, Maria's family took a walk down memory lane with Maria, enjoying her second home as much as she did!
 

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3. Professional Presence for Job Search, because when you graduate you go from student to professional!

The job market is crazy competitive these days and first impressions done well make a lasting impression. Your LinkedIn profile serves as your digital resume, and a professional headshot can elevate your online presence, making you stand out to recruiters and employers. Additionally, as you attend networking events and job interviews, having polished images portrays confidence and attention to detail, essential qualities that employers seek in potential candidates. Investing in college senior photos not only captures your academic achievement but also sets the tone for your professional trajectory, signaling to the world that you are ready to take on the challenges of the workforce with poise and professionalism.  The time Maria and I spent together was a mix of fun and intention- capturing photos that showed her personality and the accomplished young adult she is.  While the photos with family were important to Maria, capturing individual portraits also mattered.  While I'm not sure that Maria's headshots made it to her LinkedIn profile, her images most definitely show a confident, empowered and professional college graduate.

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4. Express gratitude to the people who supported you on campus with photos before you graduate

Sending thank-you notes to professors, mentors, and supporters who have guided you through your college years is a gracious gesture of appreciation. Including current photos from your senior session adds a personal touch to your gratitude, allowing recipients to see the confident, accomplished individual you've become as you express your thanks for their impact on your journey.  The photo session we enjoyed with Maria's family was a bit of a thank you to them.  And the photos after would be a tangible memory of that thanks for Maria's parents and siblings.  She truly gave them a gift of thanks by sharing the experience with them. 

5. Document Your College Experience, it's your home while you're there and will be a part of your history for your lifetime.

College isn't just a place of learning—it's your home away from home, where friendships are forged, lessons are learned, and memories are made. Documenting your college experience through senior photos is a tangible way to capture this transformative period in your life. From iconic campus landmarks to favorite hangout spots, these images serve as a visual diary of the moments and milestones that shaped your collegiate journey. And the years spent on a college campus shape the person you'll become- those years are a part of your history, entwined with your values, your motivation, your determination and are the support that you're success will be built upon.  The education Maria experienced at Swarthmore was invaluable- she didn't tell me that but I could tell the College had a profound and positive impact on her.  As we walked the campus and she shared little pieces of information about the buildings and the dorms and the open areas and those iconic spots I alluded to earlier, I knew that she had enjoyed her time there.  

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6. Embrace Memories and Reflections:

As you prepare to leave behind the familiar halls and bustling campus life, senior photos provide a moment of reflection and nostalgia. They serve as a reminder of the friendships, challenges, and growth you experienced during your college years, evoking a sense of pride and gratitude for the journey you've undertaken. For Maria, our time together was an opportunity to share her second home with her family.  Maria just which parts of the campus she wanted to show her family and we stopped at each of them to provide a backdrop to the Swarthmore story she wanted to share with her parents and sisters.  The images captured during a senior photo session will not only support you as you begin your professional journey as headshots but they will serve as a reminder of the hard work you put in.  You'll treasure them when you look back at where your professional life began. 

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I can honestly tell you that I had the best time exploring Maria's second home with her and her family.  We had such a great time enjoying the beauty and history of the campus!  I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure her sisters would agree that it was a fun and memorable experience too (based on their smiles ;)!!

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A Philadelphia area dog photographer on her soul dog and the connection shared with her boys

August 29, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Soul dog.  Sadie was my soul dog, but I didn't know it then. 

The 12 1/2 years we were blessed to have Sadie in our lives were years when I was living with my soul dog but had no idea.  I knew she was special, that she was a part of our family, growing up with our boys, by their sides and always present.  We relied on Sadie for her constant love and presence in our pack, and yes, I kind of took it for granted. 

When Sadie hit her senior years, she was diagnosed with diabetes.  That brought with it a whole other level of care, and it was stressful.  It was daily. But, it was a challenge that I just picked up and carried on with.  I will admit there were not so good days, days when I needed to manage my stress and emotions better.  But, I did whatever I needed to do for Sadie.  When she crossed the rainbow bridge, it hurt, emotionally and physically.  It brought us so much sadness. One of my boys still talks with her almost daily.  He shares his day with her just before bedtime each night.  It's become a ritual for him....it makes me wonder if maybe Sadie was his soul dog too.

When Sadie was with us, I didn't always think to pull out my camera and take photos of her, particularly in the earlier years.  Maybe I was in the throes of young parenting, trying to stay afloat, treading water with three boys and learning how to parent every step of the way.  In those years, Sadie was present.  She was growing up right alongside my boys, herding them, romping with them, barking and racing around the house with them.  They were her pack and let me tell you, I absolutely adored everything about that.  

Sadie was our beautiful, blue merle, Aussie mix, a pup we adopted from a rescue in the days before I'd gotten a glimpse into what the rescue world is about.  I only knew that Sadie "came up from the South" with her siblings and that when we went to meet the puppies, she quietly came over to spend time with my oldest, then 18 month old.  She picked us.  And until I wrote those words just now, I never thought about that.  She. Picked. Us. 

The connection dogs have with us and the love that we feel for them, it's profound and as authentic as love gets. 

I'll always miss my soul dog, Sadie.  And I will be forever grateful that she chose us to be her family. 


 

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Your family pets are a part of your family...please include them in your family photos!

July 08, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

When a couple or family reaches out to chat about their photo session, they sometimes ask if they can bring their pup or pups.  Sometimes they don't and it's not until we meet up that they mention their pup, thinking belatedly they should have included him or her.  I absolutely adore dogs and any chance I have to capture them with their people is the best!!  Bring your dogs!!! To your family session, to your engagement session, to your wedding!!  They are family.  They love you unconditionally.  And those photos will be with you always, forever.  Let that time together be something they're apart of!  The only downside to bringing your dog is that I may fawn over your pup, or greet your pup before I greet you lol!!  The upside (aside from the amazing images we'll capture together), if I want to catch a shot of just the humans, I'll happily put a foot through the leash handle and keep your pup safe by my side while I've got you laughing and am capturing those smiles!  I love a pup assistant ;)

 

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Downingtown area senior portraits, the SKRS Photography Senior Experience, 2021 and 2022

March 05, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

The SKRS Senior Experience: senior portraits that are authentic and simple.

Senior year is such an exciting time and this year, thinking outside the box to make the year more memorable is key!  Planning for a senior portrait session beyond the picture day offered through school is an ideal way to add a fun and in-person experience to your senior year that you will always remember!  

Booking your senior portraits with me means you'll get a custom experience and one-of-a-kind images that showcase your individual style and unique personality!  It also means you'll have a fun time! 

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It was more recently that I was drawn to senior portrait photography.  Just the first two sessions opened my eyes to how much fun photographing seniors can be!!  I'm a complete dork, so if you're not cool hanging with a mid-aged mother of three who will try to use the word "newb" or "legit" during the session, I may not be the right fit for you!  However, if you're game for laughing, exploring and creating photographs that represent who you are, embrace your interests and believe that during our session my goal is for you to feel amazing and excited about a highlight experience of your senior year, I am just the right photographer to capture your once in a lifetime senior portraits!!  And, believe it, I can't wait!!
 

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THE EXPERIENCE

Senior pictures at school are so very different from a session with me!  You'll likely choose one of those photos for the yearbook, in fact it may even be required by your school.  I'm pretty sure the Downingtown East and West as well as STEM yearbook editors use portraits from the in school picture day.  Truthfully, even as a photographer, I will always purchase at least one print of my boys each year from the school photographer- it guarantees the same exact pose, same held tilt and same cheesy smile so I can see the changes in them from year to year lol!  But those photos don't show their personaliities and my guess is that yours isn't represented in those either.  They're a classic, but seeking out a personalized senior portrait experience is so much more exciting and representative of who you are!  During your session, my goal is to create amazing images together that capture your personality and incorporate your interests!  Yes, I encourage you to bring along any items that are important to you, whether that's a stack of your favorite books, your crochet hook and yarn, your lacrosse stx and helmet or your bat and glove.  Time is completely on our side (because I never ever wrap up a session unless I feel we've captured all of the shots that showcase who you are!)  There's no line of students waiting their turn, and I never walk away when the time is up.  

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I begin every single session with some warm-up shots, that first spot I have us stop to get those first snaps out of the way to allow us both to relax into our time together.  While I get my settings figured out, you'll have that time to get settled and used to being in front of the camera.  From there our time together will be so much fun- we will laugh, we will play, we will make sure to capture those key shots and then we will get creative!  I absolutely love exploring the space where we meet and while I will bring my ideas to guide the session, be prepared to walk a lot and to stop here and there as we find spaces to capture photos with a variety of backgrounds and light.  Throughout the session, I'm looking to take photos that are closer up, steps away and also show you in the setting. 

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BEFORE YOUR SESSION

Before we even meet, I'll introduce myself and get to "meet" you with a questionnaire that helps me know what your interests are, what your future plans are AND what is most important to you with your senior photos in mind.  From there, we can jump on a call, video chat, email or text back and forth (whatever you prefer!) to discuss outfits, locations, and themes.  Whether you'd like an urban vibe or natural backdrop for your images, I have a ton of ideas on locations and will work with you to find the perfect spot to compliment your uniqueness!  It is my goal that you arrive at your senior portrait session feeling prepared and good about capturing this time!  Most seniors feel a little nervous when they climb out of the car.  Makes sense, not everyone has a photo shoot all about them on a regular basis.  But I don't think you'll feel those nerves for long!  Before we meet, please know that I honestly enjoy the time we'll spend together!  It is so nice to be able to have conversations with young people who are in such an exciting place in their lives!  I love to hear my seniors' plans, where they may travel after graduation, what they plan to pursue.  It's exciting!! 

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A MIX OF POSED & CANDID

I capture a mix of posed and candid photos, keeping it as natural and authentic as possible. I do provide guidance when needed to capture a shot I have in mind or to help you with a pose you might have in mind.  And, I welcome and encourage your ideas!!  I want to capture the shots that you know you want while also surprising you with the ideas I bring to your senior portrait experience! 

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When we meet up, we'll chat as we move throughout the location, stopping in spots that catch our eyes, looking for awesome backdrops or light.  It's really an hour spent hanging out and snapping photos along the way.  I'm always sure to have a space figured out for outfit changes if you want to plan for that.  I think the most important thing for you to know coming into your senior portrait experience with me is- don't worry about how you're going to act or pose - I'll walk you through everything and after just a short bit of time together, you'll feel settled in and comfortable and crazy excited to see what we capture together!!


Beyond the session: prints and albums 

After our time together, I do my absolute best to get some previews to you as quickly as possible so you can see how you rocked your senior photos!  When your final images are ready, within two weeks of our session, I'll send you a gallery of high resolution digital images, ideal for printing and within that gallery, a separate set of web ready images for sharing on social media or just having on hand on your phone.  

 


Golden hour New Jersey family session, Chester and Montgomery Counties, Pennsylvania

February 07, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

As a photographer, I count myself lucky to have a sister who loves photographs as much as I do!  Couple that with her husband who loves having his photo taken and their absolutely adorable baby boy and well yup, I'm pretty much living every photographer's dream when I do a family session with them!!  Early in December, we planned our session for golden hour in a beautiful, historic spot, a perfect backdrop to capture this period in their lives and for their first Christmas card as a family of three.  When they climbed out of their truck, I was so excited to see how my sister had styled her family for this shoot.  They had such an awesome look for the location- the perfect blend of colors to add a hint of Christmas but still give them a classic and timeless look.  The signs she brought along added a touch of vintage along with their style.  And though I'd been told my nephew was easy going, little did I expect he'd be so happy!  He's so easy to photograph!!  Of course, with all family sessions, that time in front of my camera is time spent together, laughing and enjoying each other in a beautiful setting.  I can see in all three of their faces how much they adore each other and the simple experience of being together.  It was beautiful and you'd better believe I'm already looking towards our next session and time together!!!

 

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