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Incorporating Props into Your Senior Session

When it comes to props, many seniors have one or two items that they want to bring, but they may not consider them as “props”. Something as simple as your favorite coffee or drink can be considered a prop, believe it or not. Anything that shows off your personality can be included, and can really add a special dimension to your images. We wanted to share some ideas of things you may not have considered for your upcoming shoot:

Source: pexels.com

Source: pexels.com

-Musical instruments: it might be a bit unwieldy to bring your cello to your shoot, but we love bringing pieces of our life into your session. For many seniors, that includes their love of music. You can bring things like sheet music, a microphone, or your actual instrument to convey this particular passion. If you play a large instrument like a piano, consider bringing your favorite books about the subject, or bringing a smaller option, like a keyboard. 

-Art and creative pursuits: Yes, you can even bring painting supplies, or a sketchbook. Are you writing a book? Bring along the manuscript. There is no limit to the way we can incorporate things like books, writing utensils, calligraphy supplies, or even your laptop if you are a graphic designer. If it says something about YOU, then we want it to be part of the shoot. 

-Favorite food: If you are an aspiring chef, bring along one of your creations! Your favorite cake? Your lucky apron? If you don’t cook or bake beautiful cakes or cupcakes, think of your favorite drink or food, and bring that along. It might sound silly, but some seniors even do a few of their ‘favorite things’ (shopping bags, coffee cups, snacks, or souvenirs like Mickey ears) as some of their props. 

-Your costumes/uniforms: Many seniors use their varsity jacket, which is always a nice touch. But, you can also add something like your cheer uniform, your pom poms, your gymnastics leotard, your ice skates, or even something like a polo with the emblem for debate team or another school activity. If you work a part-time job that you love, you can even bring your uniform for that (check with your boss first, as some companies have policies on being photographed in your uniform). 

I am always open to hearing your bright ideas about things you want to include, even if it’s your best friend or your beloved pet! We can make it happen. I love being creative and figuring out how to add in an unconventional item, and nothing makes me happier than being able to give you a senior session that’s truly about YOU. 

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Jackson's Senior Session

There’s something about a great, simple, outdoor session. It feels All-American, and a big nostalgic. There wasn’t a better fit than Jackson for a session like this: he’s a no-nonsense, kind, and interesting young man, and he loves the outdoors. I really enjoyed meeting his older sister a few years ago, and doing her senior photos as well. Hunting and fishing are two of his favorite past-times, and he also enjoys anything that has to do with Jeeps or old cars. He started his own mobile detailing company this year, and it’s going very well (what an entrepreneur!). In his spare time, he enjoys being with his friends, and training his dog Goose (who is pictured) to be a hunting dog. Lastly, he spends time volunteering in the PALS program, which matches older students with younger ones in order to be mentors and role models.

We chose an outdoor location with pretty trees and a small body of water, and we were blessed with blue skies when we met up. I wanted him to be able to have plenty of room to include his beloved dog, and to also show off his truck. Jackson is heading for more exciting adventures after graduation, and I hope to be front and center to watch his endeavors. 

Some people really love the outdoors, but others prefer an urban, downtown look for their personal style, or to show off a hobby or idea. I love showing off whatever you have in mind, and planning your shoot accordingly. 

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Inexpensive Coachella Style

So, maybe we don’t all have the means to end up at Coachella this year, but you don’t have to have tickets to the biggest music festival to look the part! The Coachella, bohemian style is a total hit when the weather warms up, even if you are just having brunch around town. It’s also a really fun style to bring into your senior session, and you can add a little polish and elegance to make it suitable for your epic photoshoot. But, those bohemian duds can really add up, thanks to many people scouring vintage shops for those special pieces. Here’s our best advice to finding the best items to boost your closet to festival-worthy:

Source: pexels.com

Source: pexels.com

-Free People isn’t the only brand out there: When you think of a festival look, many bloggers and laypeople alike head straight for Free People. Don’t get us wrong, we ADORE the gorgeous looks they are putting out, but when it comes to our pocketbooks…ouch. Remember that you don’t have to be brand loyal when it comes to saving money, and there are several brands that echo the same look as Free People. One boutique we love is Roolee. It’s online, it ships fast from Utah, and it has several tops, tunics, shoes, and dresses that would totally pass for items that would cost 10x as much. Check out these Yoko Flats, which are a pretty good dupe for the infamous Royale flat. 

-Start with the right foundation: No look is perfect unless you start with the basics, and work your way up from there. What we mean by that is: always make sure that you have proper undergarments, and well-fitted tanks, camis, leggings, and jeans to be your basis. When your bra, underwear, or shapewear fit properly, your outer items will fit better and can really improve the look cheaper pieces of clothing. If you need to, invest in a great pair of Spanx, and a professionally-fitted bra. You’d be surprised what a difference these can make when you begin to layer on those tops and dresses. And, there is no replacement for a great, sturdy pair of jeans that make you feel amazing. We highly recommend the Danny high-rise jean from Madewell. Yes, they are pricey, but they will become your everyday wear, and are well worth the money.

-Proportions are key: When you begin building festival looks, it’s important to remember to use the right proportions. If you have tight, minimal denim shorts, you can get away with a looser, flowing top with lots of details and embroidery. If you are sporting a longer maxi with cool sleeves, add chunky, neutral colored shoes to incorporate texture and height. Remember to stick with 1-2 statement pieces, so you don’t look tacky or distracting. 

-When it comes to makeup, look for the drugstore dupes: Makeup can be a huge piece that takes up your whole budget. Before you know it, you’ve spent $100-$200 at Ulta or Sephora and you haven’t even gotten to your wardrobe yet. We highly recommend looking at YouTube and other beauty blogger sites to find drugstore dupes (like this one) and splurging only on your foundation and skincare. This is especially true if you are buying specific makeup looks for your boho stylings, and not for everyday wear. 

-Shop secondhand: Yes, it’s true, and we know you probably have heard it before, but secondhand is the way to go. Not only is it better for the environment and more socially responsible, you’re more likely to find the pieces that will become the envy of your friends; that one of a kind leather jacket, a pair of wooden clogs, huarache sandals, or seventies vintage glasses. You will also pay much less, even at an upscale vintage shop, than you would brand-new for items that have not withstood the test of time. If you don’t have any local shops that you enjoy, check out online retailers like thredUp and Poshmark for the ability to shop and have them shipped to you. 

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How to Make a Budget for College

College is expensive. Anyone who tells you it isn’t… is probably lying! Ha! It’s really a wise practice to make a budget for any season in your life, but especially in college. You will be well occupied with your class schedule, and may not even be working part-time while you’re in school. So, without a big income source, how will you cover those many expenses? That’s where a smart budget comes in: you will never wonder how to pay your bills, and you will always know what’s left in your month allotment. Here are our very best tips to creating a realistic budget as you leave home for the first time:

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

Figure out where your income sources are coming from: Whether you are working or not while in school, you will have some sort of “income” source. It can be money from your parents, a trust fund, your own job, student loans, or any other sort of incoming finances. If your parents are supporting you in college, be clear with your expectations and how much you will be receiving. It’s not a fun conversation, but its really necessary with family, so no one has unfair expectations about their roles. If you are working, be sure to factor in taxes and fees that come out of your check, before you estimate how much you’re really taking home.

Next, divide up your upcoming expenses into categories. You will have many categories when it comes to college, but here are our suggested basics: Room and board, textbooks and school supplies, transportation, clothing, and discretionary spending. Room and board would include: cost of living on campus, or an apartment with utilities such as power and internet. Textbooks and supplies can include anything that you need for school, so don’t leave out items like scientific calculators, lab equipment, or any special uniforms or clothing. Transportation can include your own car, public transport, and any associated fuel or insurance fees, and clothing is self-explanatory. Discretionary spending includes any entertainment, spending money, or extras such as dining out with friends. We would also recommend adding a category for your cell phone plan, if that’s something you pay for.

Match up your expenses to your income, and figure out where the gaps are: If you are unable to meet your basic needs with your income, you will need to figure out a secondary plan, such as cutting out things like clothing money, or taking on part time work, such as selling clothes on Poshmark, or babysitting or tutoring. If at all possible, avoid taking out additional student loans because of the interest rates. 

Track your expenses: Once you have a written or digital (like an app) budget in place, begin diligently tracking your expenses. You can often find out where your biggest pitfalls lie by looking at your online banking statements and matching them up to your categories. Before you leave for college, one of the wisest things you can do is to save a large nest egg up, in order to cover emergencies such as new tires, unexpected travel (especially if you live very far from home), or a medical crisis. We recommend at least $2000 as an “emergency” fund, although any more than that would be very wise as well. 

By being diligent about managing your money in college, you are setting yourself up for success in the rest of your life as well. College is not only useful to gain academic knowledge, but it is also an important time to create healthy habits financially! 

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Emma's Six Month Session

“As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I reached out to Jewel”, explained mom, Laura, “I have worked with Jewel before, and although I hate having my picture taken, it meant a lot to have someone I trusted to do the maternity, newborn, and six month sessions. Jewel really took the time to learn what we wanted, and to make it happen”. I LOVED working with this precious family, and doing Emma’s six month images was such an honor. Laura and her husband Ethan are transplants from New York and Michigan, and when they learned that they were expecting Emma, they worked about not having family close by. They both express how much parenting has strengthened their relationship and marriage, and I am super proud of the way they have grown and learned along this journey. The trio is very active, and goes for lots of walks around their local area. They also visit the park and the zoo very often (which Emma loves), and exploring Houston is one of their favorite activities. 

Baby Emma is such a happy and adorable baby, with an infectious laugh and a huge smile. She loves making people laugh, and snuggling with her parents. They describe her as very curious, and add that bath time and playing with the family dog are two of her favorite activities at the half-year milestone. I loved thinking up styling and posing for this happy little girl, especially the sunglasses! It’s like she’s ready for her Hollywood closeup! Mom adds, “I have learned to really ask for help as a mother. It is humbling to do so, but I feel better knowing I have the support of loved ones through the ups and downs of parenting.” Happy six months, Emma! I can’t wait to reunite with this family soon!

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How to Care for Indoor Plants

We don’t all have a green thumb, but most of us have seen those drool-worthy shots on Instagram that feature adorable succulents and fiddle leaf figs, and wondered how we could tend our own plants! As you are preparing to leave the nest for the first time (heading to college), you might want to start caring for your very own little plant families, and so, we wanted to give you our best tips.

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

-Choose the best plants for your room or home: Some plants like cactus and succulents need constant sunlight, which will make them tricky to grow somewhere like a dorm room, so look for plants that match where you plan to enjoy them. If you have a lot of natural light in your apartment or room, you will be able to situate them in the perfect spots. The creeping fig and philodendron are two that don’t require much sun, and still give you the beauty of having indoor plants.

-Figure out how much water your plants need: One of the most common causes for plants to die is too much or not enough water. Each species of plant need certain amounts of water, so it’s good to figure that out before soaking your little pots. Soil should be moist, not saturated or dry. Watch for yellow leaves or browning on the edges of your plant as signs of it drying out.

-If you leave, ask someone to check on your plants: If you have a roommate or friend, ask them to look in on your plants and water/open the blinds if they can. That way, you won’t risk coming home from vacation to a bunch of sad and dead plants. Be sure to leave instructions if they are particularly finicky plants that need certain care, and employ a moisture probe if you are curious how much water your potted plants need.

-Water with your leftover cooking water: It sounds silly, but come leftover cooking water, such as that used to cook veggies or hard boiled eggs, can be filled with nutrients for your growing greenery. It also is a great way to use up water that would otherwise be tossed out.

-Watch the temperature: Your thermostat matters. If you’re sharing a dorm room, it may be tricky to come to an agreement on the heat or cooling systems, but remember that it does affect the moisture of each plant for it to be too hot or too cool. Look online for your certain plant species, to see if your types need a certain temperature range, and then aim for that when you set your thermostat. Also, remember that indoor plants help clean the air, so they are good for you as well as pretty to look at!

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How to find and earn scholarships 

When you consider the amount of student loan debt that the average American is in these days, it will inspire you to search out the maximum number of scholarships you can apply for. College is expensive, and the costs are only going up. While you may know that applying is smart, you may also wonder where you can even find the right scholarships. How do you know you’re not wasting your time, and which ones you qualify for? That’s where today’s tips come in…here’s how and where you can find awesome opportunities to offset those hefty student loans:

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

  1. Figure out how much your deficit is. This should be step one for anyone applying to college. You need to know how much financial need you really have, and to do so, you’ll need to sit down with your parents or guardians and make a budget. You can request quotes for tuition, dorm life, and food from any prospective colleges that should help guide your numbers. You need to also factor in any travel costs (driving, car upkeep), things you’ll need like sports equipment or uniforms, and sorority associated fees, etc. Then you’ll be able to calculate how much you’ll need above and beyond what family or other assistance is already helping out with. 

  2. Brush up your resume and volunteer hours: Many scholarships are based on your community work or your extra curriculars; they look kindly on students who are well-rounded and efficient with their time. Obviously, you should also be striving for excellent grades in all subjects at school, and of course, keeping up with any other obligations like a part-time job. You should begin to take these things very seriously as early as freshman year, in order to keep your resume as strong as possible.

  3. Use scholarship search engines: You may be surprised at what scholarships you actually qualify for. If you have family members in the military, you may qualify for additional college assistance as well. Scholarship Owl is one that works similarly to a job search website, and matches you with the ones you best meet the criteria for. Fastweb is another one that is excellent and speedy with finding scholarships that you are already able to apply for. Using the web services helps prevent wasted time.

  4. Speaking of time: view applying for scholarships as a part time job…one you really want! If you earn scholarships, you will save yourself not only money, but time. You will have to take on less part-time work and stress if your school finances are more squared away. If you are really on a time-crunch, consider scheduling one hour a day to work on applications and essays, and block out the time just like any other activity.

  5. Stay organized: It is best to make a binder or dedicated area for all of your scholarship copies, forms, deadlines and essays. Make a master spreadsheet or calendar with all of the deadlines so that you don’t miss any of them. If you are asking for letters of recommendation from teachers or friends, be sure to get more than one copy of each one so you don’t need to bother them again. Try to make a master copy of your basic essay, so you can merely tweak and change it up for each application to save time. 

With these simple tips, you can devote your time to finding scholarships, and also increase your chances at winning them! Good luck!

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Twenties-Inspired Session

“They were smart and sophisticated, with an air of independence
about them, and so casual about their looks and clothes and manners as to be almost
slapdash. I don't know if I realized as soon as I began seeing them that they represented
the wave of the future, but I do know I was drawn to them.
I shared their restlessness, understood their determination to free themselves
of the Victorian shackles of the pre-World War I era and find out for themselves what
life was all about.”  ― 
Colleen Moore

There is nothing more glamorous and exciting than the roaring twenties!  That’s what made it such a perfect choice for Abby and Jamie’s styled shoot. Abby chose the decade, and we really went to town with their outfits and accessories to achieve an authentic look. We chose long strings of pearls and beaded headpieces, and the girls had gorgeous beaded and fringed gowns. Their makeup was extremely polished and classic, and was done by Kaitlyn, whose talents are simply unmatched. I loved the defined brows and elegant lipstick. 

Did you know that a decade is a great theme for a senior shoot? You can help dream up how to achieve the look you want, whether it’s nineties grunge or eighties awesome. I love incorporating a special era into your shoot, and enjoy the challenge of bringing it to life. If you aren’t a senior, but have an idea for a fashion shoot, you can always reach out to us to book a stylized session. 

Don’t forget to come find us on Facebook. Our followers earn first dibs on special events, behind the scenes looks, and more. We also post sneak peeks and session images from our amazing clients. 

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4 Practical Ways for Finding Joy

Image source: pexels.com

Image source: pexels.com

Finding joy is like finding buried treasure. It will take work, and you’ll go on quite a journey getting there, but you need to know where you can find it before you can set off. Thankfully, there are many maps to finding joy, and if you’re willing to put in a bit of work getting there, you’ll realize that it’s not that hard to find. Happiness and joy are different, in that happiness is fleeting and often brought about by things that happen around you, while joy is consistent, and comes from inside. In other words, other things can make us happy, but we can make ourselves joyful. Here are some practical ways for finding joy!

Treat everyday like thanksgiving - No, I don’t mean what you think I mean. I’m not talking about the food (although I can definitely whip up some joy with a bit of chocolate), what I’m talking about is giving thanks. When you make a habit out of being thankful for the things in your life, you’re automatically shifting your mind into a positive mindset, and slowly changing the way that you think about things. Do this for long enough, and you won’t be able to recognize yourself from before, because you’ll be so much more joyful.

Image source: pexels.com

Image source: pexels.com

Challenge yourself with something and commit to it - Here’s where that hard work comes in. The feeling of accomplishment is made up of joyful feelings, and is a very practical way to cultivate joy. Think of that project that you’ve been wanting to do for a long time - maybe you’ve been wanting to learn another language, write more short stories, beat the record on track team - and commit yourself to doing it. You’ll have to be more organized, and set reachable goals, but in the end, the effort will be so worth it, and the journey to accomplishing what you set out to will give you a big dose of joy.

Do something you love - This one only is hard when it comes time to stop. Think about the things that give you joy - whether it’s going out with friends, shopping, exercise, painting, etc. - and do that thing. It’s a surefire way to get a good grasp of joy, but you have to be make sure that the thing you love to do doesn’t become a crutch. You’ve probably heard the adage, “Too much of a good thing.” If you do something you love in excess, then that thing won’t give you much joy anymore. Do what you love in moderation, and you’ll be one joyful person!

Image source: pixabay.com

Image source: pixabay.com

Make time for laughter - Anyone’s who laughed knows that it makes them feel better. There’s no wonder that some of the most joyful people you know love to laugh! Think about the last time you genuinely laughed: how did you feel? As you grow older, you’ll have less opportunity to laugh, so while you’re young you should make it a habit. Maybe you have a group of friends that always make you laugh, or you love to watch comedies - you know what makes you laugh. Make time for these things, and you’ll find a whole lot of joy.

Finding joy isn’t as hard as it first seems, no matter where you’re coming from. The hardest part is putting one foot in front of the other, and making the effort to build up that joy. Give yourself time, and you’re sure to find that joy and hold onto it for years to come. If you’re a senior, then you have a unique opportunity to build that joy through a senior session with me. Contact me here to book your session!

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Snow Queen Stylized Shoot

Before there was Elsa and all her Frozen glory, there was the snow queen from Hans Christian Anderson’s book. Snow has long been an inspiration for many photographers and designers, and for good reason. Snow and ice are incredible, magical, and beautiful. There is a sense of mystery to the cold temperatures, and it inspired this styled session with the beautiful Abby and Kaitlynn. Kaitlynn is our usual hair and makeup artist, so she did her own styling, and the lovely Sylvie did Abby’s makeup this time. Both girls were eager to put their own twist on the idea of a modern day snow queen, and I loved having the creative freedom to make this shoot happen!

The first look was very “Elsa”, with a beautiful white outfit and shimmering makeup. We did a side fishtail braid, and added a bit of floral branches to create a true crown. The second look was warmer and had more of a holiday feel, with a crimson floral berry crown, and hints of blue in her shimmering makeup look. As you know if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, I really find inspiration in coming up with new and creative styling in my sessions, and this one was no exception. If you are a senior who wants really unique senior photos and has a special idea, I’d love to help you figure out how to make it happen…no idea is too crazy or too adventurous to try, and who wouldn’t want to have the most unique photos amongst their friends?

Contact me today!

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