2021, High School Senior, NROTC Scholarship, Senior Portraits, United States Marine Corps

Meredith Frey – NROTC Scholarship Recipient

To start at the beginning we have to go way back. About 10 years . . . back to somewhere around 2011, when Meredith’s brother and my oldest son became best friends in Elementary School. That’s when I first met this incredible young lady. Over the years, I’ve been blessed to see her through band concerts, drama productions, track & field competiton, soccer games, and so much more. Her family has been a part of our family for so many years, and it has truly been a joy to watch her grow up!

In 2020, Meredith decided to become one of my 2021 Senior SpokesModels. My heart was filled with joy and a momma’s sad tug at the same time. It was truly like one of my own was getting ready to graduate all over again. At the same time, I was thrilled that I would be able to spend her Senior Year with her! We got “together”, via Zoom, for her Senior Consultation where I got to learn more about her. We talked about what she wanted for her Senior Portraits, and about her future plans to join the Navy and become a Nurse.

In the Spring of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, we started our SpokesModel Sessions. The first of which was at a Sammi’s Greenhouse. At first, we weren’t sure we’d be able to make it work, but as long as we kept our distance from the other customers, we were allowed get pictures without masks. It was a lot of fun being out with the girls . . . especially after being on ‘lock-down’ for so long. They had missed out on their junior year spring sports and activities so this was extra special for everyone!

In late June, we got together again for another SpokesModel Session. This time we went to the Arboretum at Penn State. This was about the time that Meredith told me about her plans to join the United States Marine Corps. I was blown away! I tried hard to listen to everything she was telling me, but in my excitment and surprise I honestly didn’t remember any of the details. All I knew was that this amazing young lady was truly called to serve. There was a passion and excitement in her voice that was contagious and infectious. THIS is where she was supposed to be . . . and she knew it with everything in her.

At the end of July, we finally did Meredith actual Senior Portrait Session! It was an absolutely beautiful day! We were even able to capture a shot with her parent and her dog, Phoebe. We were just missing her big brother, Jacob, who is stationed in Hawaii in the United States Coast Guard.

On October 29, 2020, Meredith was offically sworn in as a U.S. Marine! Due to the pandemic, she was there alone, but we were able to watch it live via Facebook. I was overwhelmed that her mom had thought to share it with me, and I couldn’t hold back the tears of joy and pride that filled my eyes as she took her vow to serve our country. Shortly afterwards, we planned a special photo shoot at the Boalsburg Military Museum to celebrate!

On March 31, 2021, I got a message from Meredith’s mom, Hope, . . . a “TOP SECRET MESSAGE”. Meredith had applied for and received the NROTC Scholarship! If you’re like me, and have no idea what that means, let me tell you! It’s a FULL RIDE Scholarship of $185,000.00 to the college of her choice! It means that her enlistment is diferred for 4 years while she goes to college. After graduation, she will be a Commissioned Officer in the United States Marine Corps!

So why was this a “top secret message” . . . why were her parents not shouting from the rooftops?? Well . . . the Marines wanted to make it a big surprise for Meredith. Her parents couldn’t share the news with her until they (the Marines) offically presented her the award in person. Plans were made for the Marines to arrive at the end of one of Meredith Track & Field practices. In order to convince Meredith to wear a ‘nice shirt’ and not get overly sweaty at practice, her mom asked me to be there for some Track Portraits. I, of course, gladly agreed!

On April 7, 2021, I arrived at the Bellefonte Area High School, Rogers Stadium at 5:00pm for some ‘portraits’. Keep in mind, this was during practice for the whole team. As a thrower, she and all of her teammates were on the outside of the stadium in the throwers pits. Everyone was super nice about her having her portraits done during practice . . . but the only ones the knew why I was really there were the coaches. We laughed and had fun, and the other athletes put up with me taking some ‘practice shots’ of them too.

By 5:30pm practice was over for the throwers . . . by design! Coach Stacey Shellenburg wanted to make sure that all their gear was cleaned up and put away in plenty of time. As I and the throwers made our way to the field I noticed the Marines and Meredith’s family starting to arrive and gather in the parking lot . . . thankfully, Meredith did not! The whole team gathered on the field for a message from the Head Coach, Coach Seth Miller.

Then . . . suddenly it happened!

Four United States Marines in full dress uniform walked in to the stadium carrying a HUGE check. They were accompanied by all of the Poolees that Meredith had been training with and Meredith’s family! Meredith knew immediately why they were there, but still seemed to be in total disbelief at the same time! Through her mask . . . I could see all the emotions running through her. Once again, the excitment was overwhelming, and I fought to hold back the tears of joy and pride for her!

Even as I write . . . the emotions are still so overwhelming! This girl . . . this INCREDIBLE YOUNG WOMAN, is among the elite!

As if that all wasn’t enough . . . we were blessed by just enough rain to create the most amazing double rainbow . . . that just seemed to keep getting brighter and brighter!

Congratulations Meredith!!

I am so very proud of you, and so proud to call you one of MY SENIORS!! I know your parents are bursting with pride, as well as your brother and the rest of your family!! I know that so many more great things are in store for you, and I cannot wait to see what all you will accomplish!! I wish you all the best in your studies at Penn State University, and of course as a Commissioned Officer in the United States Marine Corps!

xoxo,

Mindy 🙂

2017, 2021, High School Senior, Portraits, Senior Portraits, What to Wear

What To Wear for your Senior Portrait Session – Updated in 2021

So you’ve booked your Photo Session and now the fun part of planning what to wear starts.  You open up your closet . . . and go completely blank.  You call your bestie for advice,  but you’re still not sure what will look best in your photos.  Are these photos even going to turn out good if you can’t even figure out what you are going to wear??

Relax . . . this is something that I can help with!!   If you chose me as your Senior Portrait Photographer, we already talked a little bit about what to wear, so you can refer to your Welcome Packet!  If, however, you are reading this and you haven’t gotten your Welcome Packet from me yet (or you chose a different photographer) . . . I’ll let you in on a few tips that will help you knock your Senior Portrait Session out of the park!

Let’s start with the basics:  Colors!  There are 3 colors that will look good on anyone, no matter your hair, eye, or skin color.  They are Navy, Teal, and Purple.  Seriously . . . these colors look good on EVERYONE! In my color guide, there are different colors that will look best on you based on your hair & eye color . . . but anyone can rock these colors!!!  colors

Now here are come colors to avoid and limit:  colors-2

Don’t get me wrong . . . I love bright colors.  They just don’t look good on camera because they are SO bright that the color tends to reflex onto your skin . . . which does not look good in your final photos.  In the same respect, if you choose to wear Black or White, just be sure to wear another pop of color as an accent.

Now that you have an idea on what colors to wear . . . let’s talk more about fashion! Whatever you choose to wear in the end, make sure it’s YOUR style, which speaks to who YOU are!

For my lovely ladies:  

Dresses and skirts look the most stunning because they really flatter every female body.  I recommend mixing it up!  Pants, shorts, rompers, and saying yes to a dress or two for your session.  Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos.  Especially when combined with nature, like fields & forests.  Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images.

High Heels or Pumps elongate ladies legs, making them look fabulous. Closed-toed heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe.  If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show.

In my experience, every woman, regardless of her shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key.  Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos.

Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve.  You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along too.  Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.

With that in mind, here are the TOP TRENDS right now:

Monochromatic

Floral or Floral-ish

Pattern (plaid or stripes)

Themed or Extra Stylized

Dress or Romper

These little tricks make all the difference!  If you are still looking for some ideas, you can check out my Pinterest Board for Senior Girls Outfit Ideas!

For my handsome gentlemen:

Long, fitted pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from your legs and feet and place it where you want it: on your handsome face.  So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home ~ as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted dress pants, fitted colored pants, or jeans work best on camera.  I recommend staying away from graphics and logos on your t-shirts, unless you have them as an “under layer”.

Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust me when I say that it’s worth a little bit of discomfort for photos that will last you a lifetime.  Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos.  Jackets, vests, coats, and even zip up hoodies can increase the level of any look.  If the temperature permits, he could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt and tie underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!  Guys, when it comes to the full dress suit . . . GO FOR IT!  Not only will you look amazing, but what a great shot to use for your college ID photo that you will soon need!

Whatever you choose to wear, make sure you are dressing head to toe!  Those little details really do matter . . . so please don’t wear athletic socks with your dress shoes!  If you’re looking for some ideas on how to put an outfit together or what colors will look good together, you can check out my Senior Guy Outfit Guide!

As a reminder, don’t forget to get schedule for your haircut (for guys I recommend 2 weeks prior to your photo session).  Ladies, don’t forget about your nails, brows, and make-up!  A lot of make-up artist book up fast with weddings, so get scheduled as soon as you know your photo session date.  If you are still struggling with what to wear, please feel free to Contact me!

xoxo,

Mindy 🙂

2021, Epic Sessions, Portraits, Senior Portraits, Session Types

What makes a Photo Shoot “EPIC”?

Let me start off by saying that I offer three different types of Senior Portrait Sessions. I’ve found that this offers people the chance to choose what type of session will suit their personality, and their needs, best. They will still walk away with amazing photos and great memories regardless of what session type they choose. Let me take a minute to tell you a little about each session type.

  • The Basic Session is for those people that are only showing up because their mom made them.
  • The Simplicity Session (the most popular) is for people that are looking for more than just 1 outfit and 1 location. They like options.
  • The Epic Session is for people that love to be in front of the camera. Typically, they are looking for more than one season: Spring & Fall or Summer & Winter, or any other combination.

All that being said . . . an Epic session is more than just a name! Even if you choose to go with the “Basic” session . . . your session can still be EPIC! All it takes is a little creativity and a whole lot of planning!

In 2020 I had two sessions that I would classify as Epic. Not because they purchased the actual Epic Session, but because their sessions were MIND BLOWING!


Today, I’m going to tell you about Mykayla’s session.

She is the younger sister of one of my former Seniors. That was a bonus to her and her mom right off the bat. They already knew what it’s like to work with me, and also knew who their photographer would be well ahead of time. The benefit there is TIME! Time to plan, time to pick locations, time to organize thoughts and share ideas.

Time is a key component to making any session Epic!


In February of 2020, I met with Mykayla and her mom to start talking about their ideas for Mykayla’s senior portraits. I shouldn’t have been surprised that they already had some ideas in mind . . . but I was. Even more so, I was more surprised with the number of ideas they had! Because there were so many “sides” of Mykayla to cover they did decide to go with the actual Epic Session which allowed us four different locations and an unlimited amount of outfits. They chose the second week of September for her session. That gave us seven months to plan everything out!

Let the planning begin!

We talked outfits, locations, and the different aspects of her life that she wanted to capture in her photos. They chose some dates and we were on our way.

Over the next 6 months we chatted here and there. They would send outfit photos, locations they decided on, and different props that would be included. As the session got closer, the messages back and forth became more frequent. Somewhere along the way they decided to change from two dates, to just one. Mykayla’s aunt was coming in from out of state to style her hair in different ways during the session . . . so one date just made it easier for them.

To be honest, I was a little worried that we were going to try to squeeze everything we had planned into one day. I was afraid that she would get tired, that I would get tired, that the posing ideas would all start looking the same, her smile would fade, etc. There was A LOT we were going to try to do, and I wanted every part of it to be amazing for her.


The months moved by quickly and before I knew it September was here. The day of her shoot was coming up quickly so I put everything else on hold to make sure I had everything I needed ready to go. The night before, I packed up my car with everything except my camera, my daughter, and myself . . . and I spent the night dreaming of how it would all go. I could have never dreamed that it would go the way it did!

We started off meeting at our local park. Mykayla showed up, looking gorgeous, with her mom and aunt. She wore a beautiful little black dress with silver heels, and her incredibly long hair was perfectly straightened. We went right to work. Our first spot, “Scene One” was in a little alleyway in Downtown Bellefonte that had just recently been painted with a rainbow. We did some simple shots, played with bubbles, and finished with a dramatic urban model feel. It was a great start! We were all having fun already! I’ll never forget turning around to find Mykayla’s mom, Jessica, and her Aunt Cathlyn peaking from around the front of the buildings taking behind the scene photos! It was priceless!!

From there, we went back to the cars to grab the first round of props . . . her musical instruments and Drum Major items. With everything in tow, we headed to location number two, Talleyrand Park. We headed for the opposite end of the park and set up for “Scene Two” of her session. When we were done there, we packed up and hit a few spots in the park before going back to the cars.

The energy level was high as we headed for “Scene Three”. This is the scene I was most excited about! I had just picked up this incredible chair as a freebie and I knew it would be perfect for this scene. On the near side of the park, close to wear we parked, Mykayla’s dad, Chad, met us with a ton of books. I immediately dove in and started setting the scene, while Mykayla changed her outfit. I think we ended up with 30 or so of her favorite books. The ones closest to her are the ones that are nearest & dearest to her heart!

It was absolute perfection! I could not have pictured it any better in my head. All those months of planning started coming to life right in front of me, and I was giddy with excitement . . . and it was contagious!! From there, Cathlyn threw Mykayla’s hair up in a quick messy bun, and we did “Act Two of Scene Three”!

With my head spinning and heart pounding with delight, we headed off to location number three, Curtin Village, in Howard, Pa. When we arrived, Cathlyn started right in with a new hairstyle. Then it was time for a quick outfit change. We grabbed the needed props, and were off to set the stage for “Scene Four” This scene was pretty easy, we just needed an umbrella, a few smoke grenades, and that gorgeous girl in her prom dress!

Everything was going according to plan . . . we were more than half way done. Just a few more scenes to go! Another quick change and new hairstyle and we were ready for “Act two of Scene Four”!

In that same outfit, we headed for the fourth and final location – Bald Eagle State Park. Here we took some time to once again set the stage for “Scene Five”. We pulled out all of Mykayla’s pencils, pens, markers, and sketch books. The scenery couldn’t have been better! The lake, the mountain reflecting in the water, even the boat that happened to go by at just the right time. It all played to the scene of a girl who just wanted a quiet place to sit and draw.

Time for the last and final scene, “Scene Six”. If this were a fireworks show, this scene would be the Grand Finale . . . and it truly was! We started off simple . . . a blank canvas, a plain white T-shirt, some paints, some brushes, and a mirror.

Then the real fun started!

Mykayla and my daughter, Rebecca, splatter painted the canvas . . . and then Mykayla’s shirt. Of course we had to add some paint to her face too! Then Jessica & Cathlyn finished off with adding paint to her hands.

The results were incredible! And this photo (below) earned a spot in the Internationally Printed Senior Year Magazine “Best of 2020” Edition!

It was everything and more than what I had hoped for! We finished by adding her graduation year to the back of her shirt.

There were some key players that helped to make Mykayla’s session all that it turned out to be, and I would be remiss if I didn’t take time to thank them properly!

  • Jessica & Chad, Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your daughter’s life! Thank you for choosing me to do these photos for her, and thank you for every moment you put into the plans and execution of it all!
  • Cathlyn, Thank you for traveling from New York to be a part of this session! The hairstyles you did made each scene complete. Your laughter and support through the whole session filled my heart and kept me going!
  • Rebecca, Thank you for always bringing the best light to my sessions, and for making this one so incredible with your fun-loving spirit and willingness to jump in and help where it was needed!
  • Mykayla, Thank you for being you! This session IS you . . . your passions, your creativity and your personality captured in every image. Thank you for bringing your “A Game” to each scene and making the whole experience so memorable!

Now, if you noticed, I broke down each different part of Mykayla’s session into “scenes”. Much like a play, you need to think of the actual Epic Session as different parts of you. Stage the scene and play the role. That is how we were able to make this session work so well all in one day. Each scene was completely different than the one before it. Something new – a new role to play in a new scene. Each new scene brought a new level of excitement to build upon – all leading up to the grand finale!

If you choose to do a Basic or Simplicity Session for your Senior Portraits, keep those same ideas in mind. Pick you locations accordingly. If it’s just one location – make it a great one! If it’s two locations, make each one two totally different scenes, and come prepared to play the role that fits into each of those scenes.

Through it all . . . remember these key elements: Communication and Time. Take the time to plan every little detail, and make sure your photographer is a part of each step. Those two things can make your session EPIC!


If you’re ready to plan your senior portrait session and you want to make it Epic . . . please, contact me today so we can start planning!

Until next time!

xoxo,

Mindy 🙂

2021, Photography Classes

Should you take a Photography Class?

I firmly believe it’s important each of us to keep learning new things. As a photographer, that means I need to keep honing my skills, and refining my craft. Always working to become better than I was.

When I first entered the world of a photography business, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no business training, and no photographic training. I was far from the Professional Photographer that sits here today writing this blog post. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since those beginning days . . . and I’ll walk you through it all right here.


The back story

My journey started out when I was just a kid . . . elementary school age. My uncle had a passion for photography, and at some point he gave me my first hand-me-down camera. It was a Kodak Trimlite Instamatic film camera with Flash Cubes. Those were the days!! If you were lucky enough to get one good picture off a role of film with 24 images, you were doing great! Me . . . well . . . I was busy taking pictures of my Barbie Doll’s weddings and Cabbage Patch Kids family portraits. Yes, I really was! I have the photos that my wonderful mother printed for me to prove it . . . none of which is very good! LOL! This was just a new way for me to play with my toys. Never in a million years would have thought it would lead me to a career that I am so passionate about!

Fast forward a few decades and you’ll find me with 3 little ones of my own. A stay at home mom with 2 boys (5 and 4 yrs. old) and a little girl (10 mo. old) and my very first ‘big girl’ camera! I wanted to make sure I had a good camera for my daughter’s first birthday. My old junky 45mm camera had recently died and I was dying to get into the Digital camera game. I was so excited! I had already started to dream of the possibilities of having my own photography business, but other than a logo my friend created for me that was all I had . . . a dream. Without much research, I ran out to the store and bought a Nikon D70s DSLR, and that’s where my Photography Career began.


It wasn’t until my daughter was just about 2 yrs. old that I finally saw my potential as a photographer. You see, our boys are 10 1/2 months apart in age. Yes, you read that right! We would take them to the department stores for photographs, 3 months, 6 months, 1st birthday, Christmas, Easter . . . every little thing we could think of. And we bought a package of photos every time! The photographers would see us coming and cringe thinking it was going to be the hardest shoot of the day. My boys would pose and smile like they were trained as models in the womb, and every photo was perfect! THEN, that sweet little girl that we prayed so hard for entered our lives . . . and we finally understood what those photographers were so afraid of. This beautiful little girl REFUSED to look at the photographer and REFUSED to smile. She hated every moment of it. We tried EVERYTHING we could think of . . . for 2 years. In that time, the best photos I have of her, she’s not even looking at the camera or is barely smiling. As a mom, it made my heart hurt, as a photographer at heart, it broke me.

Finally, I decided I would try to take some pictures of her myself. I sent the boys off to school one warm spring day; I gave her a bath, so her tiny ringlets were perfectly shaped; I put her in a cute little dress; grabbed my camera and asked her to take a walk with me out in the back yard. I found the perfect spot and had her sit down. I think I managed to get about 3 different poses before she started crying and refused to do any more.

It wasn’t magical – It wasn’t perfect – I certainly didn’t become a Professional Photographer in that moment – but believe me, it was an “Ah-Ha” moment in my life.


About 2 years after that I made the decision to “start my own business”. Mind you, I had NO idea what that meant. All I knew is that I wanted to take pictures and someday, I wanted to be paid for it. I had NO idea how to make it all happen. (This is the exact reason I tell ALL my seniors to take a business class in college!! Someday, it might come in handy!) Thankfully, this wasn’t my first business venture. I had done a few direct selling businesses in the past: Tupperware, Jafra Cosmetics, Creative Memories, etc. None of them were successful and they certainly didn’t last long . . . but I DID learn how to get things started from those businesses. So, I started with my friends and family!


I went about my business like this for several years. Taking pictures of anyone that would let me, for very little money in return. Finally, in 2013, I decided that it was time to dive deeper. I knew that if this was going to be my career, I had to improve. Not just as a business owner, but as a photographer too. You see, I’ve always had a great eye for taking pictures . . . I just know what looks good naturally. Where I was lacking was in complete understanding of my camera and how to use it to it’s full capability. Not to mention the actual business aspect of running a business.

It was time to take some classes!

It’s been eight years since that first class! That’s so hard for me to believe, but it’s true. Fifteen years since I took that very first portrait of my daughter at almost 2 years of age. Since that time, I have grown so much! I’m on my third Nikon DSLR Camera, I have 6 different lenses that I can think of off the top of my head, 3 different types of off camera flashes, and tons of experience. I’ve gone from photographing anyone that would let me, to turning away clients that don’t fit into the type of photography that I want to do. On top of all that, my photos so much better than when I first started, AND I am running a successful business where I’m actually making a profit doing what I love to do!


How did I make it happen? Like this . . .

I invested in myself and my business.

I took three different classes that taught me all I needed to know about my camera and how to edit the photos I was taking. I felt it was important for me to start with these classes, simply because I needed to get better with my camera if I was going to be able to “stay in business”. The classes I took from another photographer, are all classes that I now teach as part of my business. In time, I have no doubt that there will be more classes added the list.

Basic Photography

Intermediate Photography

Advanced Photography

The Basic Photography Class teaches you all about your camera. How it works and how to make it work the way you want it to. The Intermediate Class is all about refining those skills you learned in the Basic Class. It also gives you a chance to actually take photos with me right there by your side. The Advanced Class is all about editing! You’ll learn how to use Adobe programs like Lightroom and Photoshop.

Beyond those I have taken business classes that taught me how to figure out what prices I should be charging in order to make the money I need for my family. I learned where to buy my prints & products from so that I could offer my clients a more premium experience, and I learned how to sell them to my clients. I learned how to create a successful modeling program for my High School Seniors. I learned how to market my business in today’s world of social media advertising. There are so many classes available, if you are willing to invest in your business. For me that first step was the hardest . . . but those classes soon paid for themselves and have continued to many times over!

If you have a passion for photography and are serious about diving into business for yourself, you must be willing to invest in your business. Invest in yourself. If you’re ready to take that leap . . . feel free to contact me. I’ll be happy to hold your hand through the process!

xoxo,

Mindy 🙂

2021, Find a Photographer, Portraits, Senior Portraits

Choosing the Right Photographer for You.

In a world where a good DSLR Camera is affordable to everyone on your neighborhood block, it can be hard to know who to go to for your special portraits. Department stores in small towns don’t have photography studios anymore, and the quick 1 hour photo spots in the mall are gone too. So the question is, How do you find a photographer? Well, the truth is you can find a photographer anywhere you look. So the REAL question we have to ask is:

HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU?

To answer that, you need to know what type of photographer are you looking for. There are photographers that specialize in each of these genres: weddings, family portraits, maternity, senior portraits, newborns, pets, business portraits, and even real estate. You might even be lucky enough to find a photographer that does multiple genres. Then there is the difference between the photographers that shoot & burn, and the photographers that provide premium services as well as premium products. Having personally done all of the above . . . I can walk you through the differences of each type of photographer.

Let’s start with the “Shoot & Burn” Photographer. Typically, this is a photographer that is just starting out in the business. They are looking to get as many clients as possible to build their portfolio, website, and social media presence. They charge a minimum fee, show up to take your photos, and give you all the digital images they create. There is nothing wrong with choosing these photographers, but be sure to check out their work first. I was this photographer for years! Every photographer starts somewhere, and if their quality of work is not up to your standards, then quietly move on. Looking at my photos now, you would never recognize where I started! I have some friends that have followed my work since I first started, and they are just as blown away as I am when I look back to those early years. I am so incredibly thankful for all the people that let me practice on them. They helped me get to where I am now!

Let’s move on to the different types of photography. There is a reason you hire a Wedding Photographer for you wedding, and Pet Photographer to take portraits of your dog . . . and everything in between. Somewhere along the way, every photographer will find what they truly are passionate about photographing. For me, it’s High School Senior Portraits. For my cousin, it’s Weddings. Over they years I have seen Photographers the thrive in Newborns & Maternity, Families, and Landscapes. The list goes on and on, so let’s break it down a bit for easier understanding.

Keep in mind . . . this is just MY opinion from my own personal experience.

Wedding Photographers: These are people (usually a team of two or more) that are energetic and fun to be around. They work well in crowds, and can handle ‘herding cats’ so to speak (receptions can get kinda wild pending on the crowd). Photographically speaking, they do well with posing large numbers of people in a single photo, as well as individual portraits, and couples. They have a creativity that covers a wide span of photo possibilities. My personal favorite Wedding Photographer Team is Ignite Photography. Gwen & Steve are an amazing husband & wife team, and their work is absolutely gorgeous! Below are a few of my recent favorites of theirs.


Family Photographers: Go right along with wedding photographers, but add in and abundance of patience! These are people that also work well with kids of all ages, and understand that life is not always “picture perfect”. The crazy moments, crying moments, and temper tantrums that go along with having little kids is all part of the game, and they know how to handle it with grace. They also have a special way about them that puts the parents at ease! Case in point: below are my most resent family portraits taken on what started out as one of the worst days ever. Enter our incredible photographer, and all we have are wonderful, laughter filled memories and fabulous portraits.


Maternity & Newborn Photographers: I’m going to lump these two together, because they tend to go hand in hand. Though there are photographer that specialize in one or the other, most do both and might even have a “from bump to baby” package that you can purchase. These are people that know how to capture the passion between a couple, or a parent and brand new baby. They also tend to have a ton of props for you to use too: maternity dresses, baby blankets, flower crowns, etc. They understand how important timing is during these times in their clients lives. Babies, come when they are ready to, and not a moment before. Just as importantly, they know that the first few weeks of a newborns life is the best time to get those precious photos taken. Their schedules allow for some wiggle room with their clients, and they can walk you through how to get the very best photos possible. Newborn photographer (especially) have a gentleness about them, that eases a new momma as well as her baby.


Pet Photographers: Yes, there are those special people out there – no, I am not one of them! While I have been known to take pictures of pets, it’s usually been with a High School Senior as my main focus. Pet Photographers know how to bring out an animals personality in their photos. I have done it . . . but only with my own pets.

Toby Pierre

Real Estate/Architectural Photographers: These are the types of people you want to take photos of your house when you are trying to sell it. They know the right angles to make each room look bigger than it actually is! It’s truly magical!

Landscape Photographers: These tend to be people that don’t prefer people (faces) in their photographs. You’ll see tons of amazing scenery and maybe some shots of people from afar, but for the most part you are not going to see smiling faces. These are the the kind people that create some of the most beautiful artwork. Photos that you feel like you can walk right into them, feel the breeze on your face, and the ocean sounds in your ears. Oh how I wish I had this talent!


Finally, you have the photographers like me.

Senior Portrait Photographers: These are people that love working with individuals, in my case Teens & Tweens. They also have the ability to deal with emotional parents that are getting ready to send their teens out into the world. They have a creative mind that can envision each different session that each different High Schooler bring to a session. From an athlete to an artist; singers, dancers, and musicians; intellectuals; introverts & extroverts . . . and they know how to bring out each one’s personality. They have a way of making sure that each and every session in unique and individualized.


Business Photographers: Much like a Senior Portrait Photographer, these are people that work better one on one. They have a firm understanding of what looks best on a business page, and how to capture your business in an appealing way.


In each category, you’ll still find a variety of personality types, so do yourself a favor and stalk them for awhile (their work – not in a creepy, illegal sort of way). Look through their photos, their social media pages, and their websites. Get to know they type of photographer they are and, if you can, their personality. You want to be comfortable with your photographer – especially if you are not comfortable in front of a camera to begin with. A good photographer understands what it’s like to be in front of the camera and will put you at ease, making the whole experience fun and memorable.

Now, let’s get down to what happens at the end of your photo session. What do you want to come out with? Do you want grab all the digital images and go – possibly never seeing your photographer again. Or are you looking for someone that can help you find the right photos and products to decorate your home with?

This is the difference between a “shoot & burn” photographer, and a photographer like me.

Like I mentioned earlier – shoot & burners are typically just starting out and probably don’t know where to find those premium products you’re looking for. They might have another full time job (mine involved having 3 little ones at home with me all day). They might not have enough money coming in from their business to afford buying samples to see what’s available. If all you are looking for is the digital, great! Just be sure that you actually take those digitals and have prints made. I have had far to many clients in the past that never do anything with them, and that’s just makes me sad!

On the flip side, a photographer like me has been around for several years. I can help you every step of the way. From figuring out what to wear, so you look your best, to figuring out what products to use to display the images we create together. I have invested in countless hours in photography classes and training all in order to provide you with the best possible experience. Likewise, I have tested countless numbers of samples from several different professional labs, and know that quality counts. I have been in the homes of many different types of clients. I know not only what people like, but what looks good in their homes, and how to help them design a photo display that will best suit their style. I know that choosing photos is an emotional process, and I’m here to hold your hand through the whole process. You can read more about me, if you’re interested, but I’ll leave that up to you.


If you’re looking for a Senior Portrait Photographer like me, please feel free to contact me anytime! I’d be happy to walk you through that emotional last year of High School for your Senior! If you’re looking for another type of photographer mentioned above, I would be happy to direct you to the perfect one to suit your particular needs.

Whatever your photographic needs are, I hope you find the right fit with your photographer!

xoxo,

Mindy 🙂

2019, College Freshman, From one Parent to Another, High School Senior

A High School Senior turns into a College Freshman Overnight.

We recently sent our middle son off to college. Though he is my second born and my second son to enter college, he was my first one moving into a dorm room. So there were a lot of new things to consider this time around. We are truly grateful that he is rooming with a friend from high school and that they will have similar classes. But there were still a lot of questions and “unknowns” around the whole dorm life situation. Especially since neither my husband, nor I, had the dorm life experience.

In December of 2018, in the midst of his senior year of high school he received his acceptance letter from the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Chemical Engineering. It was a thrilling day for all of us, especially since it was the only university he applied to (something I do not recommend). It was also a very emotional day. I knew it was coming, but that was the day that I realized that I had to start preparing for him to leave home.

Being the ‘list’ type person I am, I immediately started a list of everything he would need, and quickly realized . . . I had NO IDEA what that was. Sure, I knew he would need laundry supplies, toiletries, bedding, and the standard school supplies, but I still had no idea what residence hall he would be in or what his actual room would look like. I muddled through and I did the best I could with what I already knew. The problem was, all I knew was that he would have a bed, a desk, a dresser . . . and a roommate.

Finally, in mid July (seven months later) we found out where he would be staying and who his roommate was. That still didn’t give me the information I needed . . . I am a planner after all. One that is not only a mom, but a very visual person. So I started searching the internet. The photos that were “out there” were not that helpful to me. I still had no idea how much space he would have for storage bin and/or drawers or what his “open closet” would look like. To him . . . none of this mattered, but to me it was valuable information. This was something that would help me make his room more like home, somewhere that he would feel comfortable while away from home. I have no doubt that when it’s time for my daughter to head off to college, that she will be much more helpful in telling me what she wants in her room. This man-child of mine, however, could have cared less.

Fast forward to now, late August. My son is now settled in to his dorm room, and has made new friends. He is fine . . . more than that . . . he’s happy and he loves the area! He is excited about his classes, and he is optimistic about his future. Somehow we both survived him leaving home and starting this new chapter of his life. Oh, don’t think for a second that any of it was easy. From the arguing at the store over what I thought he needed, and the “Mom, I don’t care” answers I got to whatever I suggested – all the way through to the tearful “good-bye” . . . all of it was hard. It’s something that each person deals with differently, but in the end we all make it through.

One thing I want to make very clear is that even though this was my second time sending a child off to college, it truly l was not any easier (like I thought it would be). The anticipation of the whole thing started much earlier and I kept telling myself that it was nothing to worry about. I knew what was going to happen, and I knew in my heart that it was all going to be alright in the end. In my mind there was no need to get all worked up like I did the last time, so I just kept pushing those feelings aside. Looking back, I think that was a big mistake. Let’s face it . . . this is an emotional time for everyone. The fears, excitement, pride, sadness, and every other emotion are bound to be overwhelming. Not allowing yourself to feel those feelings is not healthy. At some point, you will burst . . . which I did. Saying “good-bye”, I was blubbering (really it was the ugly cry) all over the place trying to tell my son how proud I was of him, and he couldn’t understand a word of what I was saying through all the tears. (true story) On the flip side, watching videos of kids leaving for school, or seeking out sad songs of how “You’re Gonna Miss This” or how you want time to “Slow Down”, is not good either. The waves of emotions will come on their own, and yes, they will come in waves. There is no need to force them, but please don’t ignore them either. Do yourself a favor and feel them when they come. If you feel it coming on, and feel the need to listen to a sad song, go for it . . . just don’t torture yourself. For me the biggest difference this time around was I was leaving my son in a big city. We have lived in a small town in the middle of Pennsylvania most of his life, and a city like Pittsburgh is a BIG change. I knew that he was ready for college and I had no doubt that he would do great at school . . . but would he be OK in the city?? If I had only faced my fears and talked to him about it before he left, I think I could have handled him leaving so much better.

I have no doubt that each child I send off to college will be different. In the same way, your experience may be completely different than mine. Beyond that, the dorm room that we dealt with might be completely different than the one your College Freshman will have. My goal is simply to make this difficult transition somewhat easier for everyone involved. Below, you will find photos of my son’s dorm room. I also have a Dorm Room Check List that I have compiled that is available to you if you like. There are things on the list that we did not end up getting, but they were suggested to us by other parents that had already been through at least one year of college life. One thing that is not on the list , but I feel is very important is an application for an Absentee Ballot. If your student isn’t enrolled in a college near home, or even if they are only a few hours away from home this could be something that you both need to consider. It’s not hard to fill out online, and since we don’t vote on weekends it could make the whole thing much easier.

So this is the somewhat, sorta “empty” dorm room . . . before all the stuff got moved in . . . and prior to his roommate arriving. The school provided all the furniture you see along with a gift bag for each student that contained a insulated coffee mug, reusable (wooden) utensils, a few other goodies, and a map of the school. When they checked in, they each got a T-Shirt.
Here is my revised rendition of the above photo. Take a minute to read through all the arrows above. It might be just the thing to help you picture your student’s future dorm room.
The Desk Lamp we bought (that grey & black post looking thing on the desk) has a USB charging port for a phone and the Alarm Clock we bought has two extra electrical outlets. The printer is we had but weren’t using. It is wireless so both students can use it easily. There is a desk lamp attached to the desk (under the lower shelf), but the one we bought has different lighting options and can be dimmed to accommodate a sleeping roommate.
‘That full length mirror is on the back of the door . . . which is great since you can’t really hang anything heavy on the walls with Command Strips & Hooks! These wall are slightly textured, so hanging anything was difficult. Also, there are more electrical outlets on the right side of the desk along with the one and only cable hook up in the room.

My husband and I, along with the dad and brother of our son’s roommate helped the boys move in on Wednesday. By Thursday evening, I got the photo above, showing that they moved everything around and made bunk beds so they would have more room. If only I had suggested that to begin with . . . oh wait . . . I did! LOL!

Over all, I’d say that the best suggestion I could possibly offer you, is find out who your students roommate will be. We were lucky in the fact that not only was our son already friends with his roommate, but we also know and get along with his parents. If you are not that lucky . . . make it happen! Allow the future roommates to meet ahead of time and get to know each other. Request that you also get to meet the roommate and their parents. Then you can work together to provide what both students will need without over crowding the room. There is truly no need for 2 refrigerators, microwaves, vacuums, or TV’s!! Their space will be limited enough without over-doing it with extra stuff that’s not needed.

In the end, nothing can truly prepare you for your child to leave for college, but I hope and pray that helping you plan will make it just a tiny bit easier. If only they would allow their mommas to do the ‘nesting’ and fussing over them that we need . . . even if it is just to help us feel better about them leaving. Who said they could go ahead and grow up anyway?!?

If you have any questions . . . OR . . . if you have any ideas, suggestions, or tips that have worked for you and your college freshman, please feel free to share them in the comments below!!

Love & Hugs from a Momma that knows and understands. Good luck to all you Mommas out there . . . you can do it!

xoxo,
Mindy 🙂

Portraits, Senior Portraits

Boho Cowgirl Senior | Class of 2020

Over the years, I learned, that parents are all looking for the same thing for their seniors portraits, and it’s not the same as it was when I was in school. It used to be that parents just wanted a formal portrait of their senior with a big smile looking straight at the camera. Now, parents want a photograph that captures their seniors personality – something that truly showcases what they love, their style, and their talents. This is just one of the many reasons I love being a Senior Portrait Photographer! Each senior I have been blessed to photograph has been different from all the others! Which brings me to the beautiful girl pictured above.

Rachel and I first met when I did a Winter Model Call this past winter. She was absolutely stunning and incredibly comfortable in front of the camera. Her Senior Portrait session was no different! She looked flawless in her boho cowgirl dress and lace kimono cardigan complete with boots and jewelry to match . . . and even a wild flower in her hair! The setting she chose , Curtin Village, was just as perfect! This historic village houses old barns, open fields, a small bridge, a nearby stream, and so much more!

Just to be clear, this is not just a style choice for Rachel . . . this is who she is. She is a competitive horseback rider. She competes for the American Quarter Horse Association , where she rides her own horse, and the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, where she rides a horse she has never ridden before. Rachel is going into her 7th year of competition with the IEA and has gone to Nationals 5 out of her 6 previous years of competition. Great Red Code – aka Banjo, Rachel’s 5 year old gelding, compete together in Ranch Riding. In April this year, they went to the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Ohio to compete at the Level 1 Championship show. They competed in the Level 1 Youth Ranch Riding, where they were named Champion, and in the Rookie Youth Ranch Riding, where they were named Reserve Champion. They also competed through the summer at Centre Hall, showing at the Pennsylvania Quarter Horse Association Mid-Summer Madness and the Keystone Showdown, coming home with Reserve Circuit Champion in the Level 1 Youth Ranch Riding and in the Open Youth Ranch Riding at both shows. They are going to compete at the All American Quarter Horse Congress this October and will be competing at the Youth World Show in August of 2020.

In the photographs below, you’ll see Rachel ROCKING her Belt Buckle from her Level 1 Achievement which she won riding her old horse, Sonnys Deluxe Day – aka Alvin. To earn a belt buckle like this you have to earn enough points in a Level 1 class. Rachel and Alvin reached 42 points in the Level 1 Youth Horsemanship, which was enough to bump them into the Level 2. Rachel told me, “Alvin is near and dear to me because he was my first show horse, taking me to the All American Quarter Horse Congress, which is a nationally recognized show and runs for a whole month.” They showed in the Level 1 Youth Trail and ended up placing 7th out of 86 entries. They have also earned many Top Ten and Finalist titles in the horsemanship, showmanship and trail at the Level 1 Championships. This year, Rachel and Alvin qualified for the Youth World show in the summer, but ended up not going due to her competition in the IEA Nationals. This girl LOVES her horses, in fact . . . ” My horses are my best friends and my life!” , is what she said exactly. I have no doubt that they love her too!

Rachel was so fun to photograph. Her fun loving, free spirit filled the air while we shot together, and she was up for anything! From spinning in her dress, to climbing trees, and laying on the ground. It was clear that this farm girl wasn’t afraid of doing anything in front of the camera. To finish the session off . . . we got in the water! Rachel went in boots and all . . . while I stumbled around barefoot with frozen toes. It was totally worth it! It turned out to be such an amazing session and I would gladly photograph this beauty any time!

Whatever YOUR style is . . . Whatever YOUR talent is . . . be sure to BRING IT just like Rachel did for her Senior Portrait Session, and I’ll be sure to capture exactly who YOU ARE for you and your parents! Contact me today to schedule your session.

xoxo,
Mindy 🙂


2017, Portraits, Senior Portraits

When should you get your Senior Portraits done?

Hello my lovies!!

It’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me, but in the midst of my busiest season, I wanted to address a very important question.  It’s one that always comes up when you have a High School Student in your household, and it is really one only you can answer.  “When should we get Senior Portraits done?”  If you’re asking me, I’ll tell you the short answer is:  Anytime you are ready!!  The long answer just leads to more questions.  🙂  Personally, I have had parents and students contact me for pictures during their Junior year in High School, after their Senior has already graduated, and even for College Graduations because they never had “senior portraits” done before!

So the real question is . . .

WHEN DO YOU WANT TO HAVE YOUR SENIOR PORTRAITS DONE?

Let me start by introducing to you Rose, Class of 2017.  She is one of seven kids in her family and only the second one that wanted to have Senior Portraits done.  She is a beautiful and unique young lady.  She is the ONLY girl I know that is going to be a welder!  Yes, you read that right.  This gorgeous girl is going to be hiding behind a grungy, dirty mask to protect herself from the harmful light that welding produces.  Her tiny little frame will be hidden by a jumpsuit to allow her to move freely throughout the job site.  It’s that small petite size that will make her invaluable in the industry since she will be able to fit into all those small spaces that a man cannot get to.  She is finishing up her education at Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology and already has a job lined up!

Rose is not the first Senior that have I have photographed that was not longer a High School Senior, but she is the first one this year!  Let me tell you how it all came about ….

Bellefonte Photographer - M Photography-3545

Our conversation first started in the Fall of 2016, the beginning of her senior year.  Her mom and I had talked about winter portraits, in a stream, with a summer dress.  It sounded really cold to me, but this Senior Photographer was excited to try something totally different!  🙂  After the consultation with Rose, I got even more excited!!  I started planning and brainstorming about how it was going to work, where it would be, and got myself ready to be “on call” for the moment we had snow.  Here in Central Pennsylvania, that could be anywhere between October through April!  hahaha!  Sadly, due to the series of unfortunate events, that plan never happened, and before we knew it her senior year was over.

Now just because she was technically no longer a Senior, didn’t mean that her dream of having Senior Portraits was totally shattered.  We just simply adjusted the time frame.  She did have a little trouble getting off work because they didn’t think it was possible for her to be getting them done after her graduation, but that was the only trouble we had! So on June 15th, about a week after she graduated high school, we did her portraits!

 It turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL day!  Perfect for portraits!!

The water was still cold, but it didn’t slow us down much  . . . and I’m sure it was warmer than it would have been in the winter!!  🙂

In the end, both Rose and her mom were thrilled with the results.  It wasn’t what we originally had planned, but it was beautiful none-the-less.  In fact here is what her mom had to say,

“Fantastic photographer!  Fantastic lady! I am beyond happy and satisfied with all of the choices! Mindy is so professional and easy to work with and so flexible which was very necessary in my case. Will definitely hire her again.” 

This review was completely unsolicited . . . I just got a notification in my inbox and went to check it out.  These are words from a truly happy client . . . and that means the world to me.

So whether you are a Junior, Senior, or post High School, don’t feel like your chance is over!  Your portraits can be taken ANYTIME you are ready!  Even if you are a Freshman that just wants to start planning out your session with me.  It truly doesn’t matter.  If you want “Senior Portraits” I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!  Let’s make it happen together!

If you are ready to start planning your Senior Portrait Session, feel free to Contact Me anytime!  I’d love to get you on my schedule!

Until next time, Love and Blessings,

Mindy 😀

 

2017, Portraits, Uncategorized

Leaving a Legacy

Hello my lovelies!

I had the privilege of photographing a wonderful and beautiful soul last week!  Edwyna turned 88 years old this month and wanted to celebrate her life through photographs.  She wanted to leave a legacy for her children and grandchildren . . . to be able to show them what is possible at the grand age of 88.  How wonderful is that?!?  This woman is SO full of life, love, and laughter!  It was a complete honor to be a part of this legacy in the making.

So . . . what is a legacy?  Merriam-Webster defines it as:  something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.  Based on that definition, a legacy could be anything we leave behind for those that follow us.  I absolutely LOVE that Edwyna shares my passion for pictures, and considers them to be a legacy for her family . . . something they can look back on for many years to come!!  I believe the same thing!!!

It was a chilly morning when I arrived at Edwyna’s house.  She lives on the same property as her son and grandson . . . but in her own beautiful home.  We planned on doing her photographs in her home, which I had never seen before.  I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived.  Edwyna answered the door and was dressed in a formal gown, and the many windows in her home lit up the house beautifully . . . no studio lights needed!  It was perfect!

We started with a few formal photos to get her warmed up and used to me and the camera.  She was a little nervous but her daughter and friends were there to help her relax and make her feel more comfortable.

Once she started to play the piano, she settled in, and just had fun.  The music just flowed through her . . . and her true personality began to show through.  After all, the piano is where Edwyna spends a lot of her time.  She continues to play at her church for worship on a regular basis.

A true blessing was watching both mother and daughter play the piano together.  When Linda asked her mom, “what should we play?”  Edwyna immediately responded with “Jesus Love Me.” and away they went.  It was beautiful.  This wasn’t the typical simple song we all learned as children . . . they truly jammed and let the music speak to their hearts and souls as they played!  We (Edwyna’s friends and I) HAD to clap in response when they finished!

This incredible woman sews, colors, has her own computer and cell phone, bakes for her grandchildren, entertains her friends and family, keeps up on her grass with a battery powered weed-wacker, and still plays basketball.  She is truly amazing!

Though we ‘acted’ as if she was actually sewing and baking, we were really just pretending and going through the motions.  Edwyna made the sound effects to make it more realistic . . . which only made us laugh!  😀  She did, however, truly shoot that basketball and got it through the hoop about 50% of the time.

This was my favorite!  When her daughter, Linda, mentioned she wanted to have a photo of her mom sitting on her car, I truly thought she was joking.  Boy was I wrong!!  LOL!!  Isn’t this just fabulous?!?!?!  Without hesitation, Edwyna went for the step stool and climbed up on the hood of car!  With her daughter and friends around, she really made a show of it!  😀

My hope for myself and for anyone reading this is that we find and keep JOY in our lives.  That we enjoy life to its fullest everyday.  That we will stay activeshare our wisdom and love with those around us.  Live knowing that each day we are given is a blessing from God . . . and there is purpose in our lives.  Our lives touch others in ways we may never know or understand.  Even when you think no one is watching . . . someone is.  Let you life be an example and a blessing to others.

Edwyna’s life has been a blessing to her 4 children, her 11 grandchildren, her 8 great grandchildren, her late husband of 63 years, her friends, her church family, countless others, and me.  Be a blessing to those around you, and your legacy will be the life you lived and the love you shared!

Each client that I am blessed to photograph finds a special place in my heart.  Edwyna is no different.  This photo session will be treasured forever!

If you are ready to schedule your photo session, please feel free to contact me anytime!  I’d love to help you start planning or answer any questions you may have!  Until then . . .

Love and Blessings,

Mindy 🙂

2017, Eagle Scout, Senior Portraits

Court Of Honor

Hello my lovelies!

This week I found myself thinking back and remembering when I was in Elementary School and Middle School ~ I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout.  My brother was a Boy Scout . . . my mom was also a Den Mother.  I remember camping with my with my fellow scouts, learning lots, trying new things, and having lots of fun together.  My brother and I eventually dropped out of our troops, and life went on.

Fast forward to when my boys were in Elementary School, we decided to get them involved in Cub Scouts . . . and I, like my mother, became a leader for my younger sons’ group.  We built birdhouses, camped, ice skated, and plenty of other fun things.  My husband and I both hoped that they would continue and move up to the Boy Scouts Troop . . . but no such luck.  They lost interest and dropped out.

On Sunday, March 12, 2017, I was honored to be a part of something amazing.  Something that I knew was possible, but had never personally seen.  One of my Seniors invited me to his Court of Honor Ceremony.  A ceremony to celebrate becoming and Eagle Scout.  The highest honor of any Boy Scout.  He didn’t start out early in Cub Scouts and even got a late start as a Boy Scout, but Noah, with hard work and determination made it happen.

I first met Noah when my oldest son began to play soccer for the our high school team.  Noah is a year older than my oldest and was on the varsity team.  It was obvious from the very first game that he was one you keep your eye on.  Then, I ran into him on the track team, when my younger son joined the team.  Soon, I was seeing Noah everywhere.  He’s a member of the drama group, the choir and regional choir, the band and regional band, and is even the drum major for the marching band this year.  He’s on the track team and was a captain of the varsity soccer team . . . and of course a Boy Scout.  I know there is much more that I am forgetting, but you get the point.  Noah is an exceptional young man.

Part of becoming an Eagle Scout is to do a service project for the community.  During Noah’s Senior Portrait Session, we took photos of him at his project location.  Bald Eagle State Park is a park that I go to often.  It’s close to my home and is a beautiful location for photos.  With the mountains in the background, the lake, and all of nature around – you can’t go wrong!  When The Nature Inn was added to the park, it only made the scenery more beautiful.  It was at this State Park that Noah did his Eagle Scout service project.

Noah’s project was located at the Environmental Learning Center at Bald Eagle State Park.  The project was to restore and make additions to the bird-watching area.  It included tiling the area and planting new grass, removing rocks and weeds, sanding and sealing the split-rail fence, placing mulch under the length of the fence, fixing a large open bird feeder and building a second, identical bird feeder, and then painting both.  He also refurbished two raised flower beds for planting native plants, butterfly milkweed, and bee balm at the request of the park.  He began all of this work on July 2, 2016 and finished on August 20, 2016.  His hard work paid off . . . It turned out beautifully!

Finally the day arrived, five years after he first became a scout and 23 merit badges later, Noah and his family were about to celebrate this huge accomplishment.  He had his family and friends there along with his Scout Troop 370 and several honored guest there, all to pay tribute to him.  He stood at the front of Faith UM Church and accepted each token and certificate with humility and grace.  As a parent, I know that his parents sat proudly beaming, and probably fighting back the tears at times.  I know this because as his photographer, I was beaming with pride and fighting back tears of my own.  I have never been of part of such a ceremony . . . and I was truly amazed at the number of guest that were there to honor Noah’s accomplishment.  Among those guests were our State Senator, Jake Corman and our State House of Representatives, Kerry Benninghoff, along with our Centre County Commissioners, Mark Higgins and Steve Dershem.  There were also representatives from the Elks Lodge #1094, Nittany Leathernecks, PA State Police, the Centre County Sheriff, and though our U.S. House of Representatives, Glenn Thompson, couldn’t be there, he sent a certificate to honor Noah.

For me, there were a few very moving moments during the ceremony.  The first being when Noah’s grandfather took the podium for the Eagle Charge and Promise.

That was closely followed by Noah receiving his Eagle Scout Pin and then presenting his parents with their own pins.

And then the presentation of Noah’s Mentor Pin.  I found this particularly special because he chose his best friend, the one that got him involved in scouts, to receive his Mentor Pin. Though Dion may have suspected that he would be the one chosen, he was still clearly moved by the decision.

After it was all over and the colors were retired, we celebrated!  Photos and food and close inspection of all his certificates and gift given during the ceremony.  There were SO many certificates, that in the photo below, some had to be covered by others.