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.
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!