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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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Making (and keeping) Your New Years Resolutions

We have all made New Years resolutions that we failed to keep. Whether we followed through for one day or one month, we have all felt that pang of regret that we didn’t continue to do what we had committed to. Often, we decide to eat healthier, work out, be better with our money, or get better grades. Perhaps you want a promotion at your job, or to give back to your community in some way. But we have all realized life can crowd in quickly, and derail even the best laid plans. Here are our tips for making and keeping your resolutions for the brand new year:

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

-Be specific: Saying “I will eat healthier" is a really broad resolution. Instead, think of ways you can be more specific, such as “I will stop eating fast food after school”. You could also swap in healthier options like walking instead of taking the elevator, or walking twice a week. Being specific helps your brain recognize what task needs to be done. Other specific things are: I will purge my closet, I will recycle my cans, I will use a planner to stay organized. These are easy ways to begin implementing healthy changes in your life, without making broad, unrealistic statements that are too vague.

-Be realistic: If you know you cannot commit to working out one hour a day, or volunteering 20 hours a week, it is not realistic to say that’s what you will do. You will just set yourself up for failure, before you’ve even started. Instead set a lower, more realistic goal, such as “I will work out 3 days a week” and then make a chart to show your progress. A visual aid helps keep you on track, and makes it easier to see how much you’ve really done.

-Be accountable: A friend who has a similar goal can help keep you on track to meet your goal. Ask a friend to walk twice a week with you, or download a fitness app that you can both use to view progress. If your goal is to save money or get better grades, make an agreement with your friend to help you stay the course. For example, if drive-through coffee or eating out is draining your savings, ask your friend to help by planning to pack a lunch with you a few days a week, or learning to make your own espresso or tea that you can put into travel mugs. A buddy makes it easier to stick to a plan.

-Make fewer goals: If you make too many goals, you will burn yourself out too quickly. Consider making 2-3 realistic goals that you feel confident that you can reach. Of course, they shoudln’t be too easy, and should be somewhat challenging, but shouldn’t be impossible. If you’ve never run in your life, three marathons might be absolutely impossible for your body to achieve, but a 5k is going to be challenging yet achievable. If you don’t know what an achievable goal would look like, ask an adult or a parent to help you brainstorm. '

By setting and keeping your goals, you will feel accomplished and will be on your way to a more disciplined and fulfilling life! Happy New Year!

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Jaycee's Senior Session

Self-care is a bit of a buzzword these days. It seems everywhere we turn, we hear about how we need to put ourselves first, and to preserve our feelings and hearts. This is one lesson that Jaycee, this beautiful senior, has learned in the last few years: the put herself first. “I have really learned that I cannot hold on to the things that have hurt me in the past. It is something to live by; to move on and find something better. ‘Forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you’ is my favorite quote”. I love her strength and kindness, and really enjoyed getting together to capture her senior year. Jaycee will graduate from Lake Travis High School in 2019, and she also enjoys her part-time job at Hill Country Indoor. She enjoys working with children, and also has run track in the past. When it comes to people who are influential in her life, Jaycee cites her aunt and her mom, who are both strong women who have fought for what they want in life! 

When I planned out her session, I chose the Spicewood area near Austin, and a local vineyard, Stone House Vineyard. The vineyard is seriously so elegant and stunning, and pairs the best architecture with beautiful landscaping; it is the perfect spot for an unique senior shoot. Jaycee says her personal style would best be described as “casual, cute and fun”, and that her everyday style usually includes sneakers, t-shirt, and shorts. She looks up to celebrities with a cool-casual style like Selena Gomez, and really loves shopping at Buckle. As far as her future, college is definitely in her sights, and she plans to pursue nursing, with minors in sociology and psychology. Jaycee is passionate about finding justice for rape and assault victims, and helping end human trafficking in the United States. Eventually, she plans to become a counselor or a therapist. I know her huge heart and passion about her goals in life will take her very far! Congratulations, sweet girl!

Contact me today to schedule your senior shoot!

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Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

It’s that time of year again! For some, it’s a time of year to focus on what they might get, but the true spirit of the season is in focusing on what you can give. The key to a heart set on generosity is in having a heart well acquainted with thankfulness. Being thankful, even in just a simple “thank you” in response to a kindness shown towards you, is intimately connected with positivity. While the Thanksgiving holiday is a great reminder of what we should be focusing on, the truth is that we should be just as grateful every day of the year. But how do you do that? Well, here are a few tips!

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-Start small: When things hit hard, they jostle your perspective. You could start the day happy and joyful, but then the harsh realities of life become a bit too hard to handle, and your mood sinks. Gratefulness is the ballast that will keep you afloat in a storm, and you’re building a foundation for yourself every day. But strong foundations aren’t built in a day, it’s a process that takes time - and it all starts with a simple thank you. Starting small and reaching out in kindness and gratitude towards others, even when you desperately don’t want to, will be your anchor in the storm. Start small, and you’ll reap the rewards later!

-Stay present: If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ve gone through a time where the future just wasn’t too bright. Everyone goes through times where their minds are on anything but the present, but there’s a certain joy that only comes from being truly thankful for where you’re at. If you can live in the moment and experience what is going on as it happens, you will discover many joys once overlooked. Cultivating a habit of living in the present, and being thankful for it, will give you a positive outlook both towards the future and the past.

-Never compare: In this season, it’s so easy to compare yourself to others, especially in the things that other people can afford. The Christmas season is coming, and for those who celebrate, you’ll see them walking around with big presents to give. Or if you celebrate Thanksgiving, you might feel the sting of jealousy as you compare your cooking to someone else’s. But true gratitude comes from finding joy in the ways others have been blessed, and giving thanks for what they’ve been given. That way you’re reorienting a heart set on comparing (and envying) to instead find joy in others.

Those are just a few ways you can find gratitude every day, and there are many more ways to do it! What are some ways that you’re cultivating gratitude each day?

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Ways to Encourage your Friends

Recently, we shared a blog about protecting your mental health, and the steps you can take to preserve your sanity and your health during stressful times of your life (hello, senior year!). We also wanted to share information today about ways you can help encourage a friend going through a hard time, whether that is a mental health crisis or a difficult situation in their life. Part of being a good friend is sticking together in spite of life’s ups and downs, and during some of the worst times as well as the great ones! Here are four practical ways to help a friend in your life who is suffering:

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

-Listen without offering advice: It can be hard not to interject advice into your friend’s life, especially when you feel you have a good solution. But often what they need is just simple listening and someone who will be there for them. Ask if they’d like advice before offering it, so that it lands on open ears and helps them feel heard. Also remember to set aside time if they need to talk, in a coffee shop or a quiet place where you can listen without distractions.

-Bring them a care package: What things make your friend happy? Do you know their favorite restaurant or coffee shop? If you’re able to, bring them a care package of some of their favorite items or food and leave them on their porch during a difficult time. It can really cheer someone up to know you’re thinking of them. Here are some ideas of things to include: smoothie or coffee, a cute mug, socks, candy, a movie, a magazine or book, hairties, video games, cards, notes, a journal, gift cards, etc.

-Make them a priority: Make yourself available to be a good listener, and let your friends know they are a priority in your life. Make sure that you balance your other commitments, and never allow yourself to become a doormat, but if your friends know you are there for them, they will be more likely to come to you for help. Ways to do this would be: setting aside time each week to see a friend or two, answering texts and calls when you are able, and listening without texting/being distracted when you are together. Check on your friends who are going through a hard time, even if they aren’t reaching out to you. Sometimes, it is too overwhelming when going through difficulty with family, health, or school to reach out to anyone for help.

-Encourage them to get outside help: If a friend is dealing with depression, health problems, or other issues where outside help might be useful, encourage them to reach out to a counselor or other trusted adult. Go with them if appropriate, and if they need support. Remember to keep their issues confidential (unless they involve harming themselves or others and you need to tell someone), and don’t share their personal problems as gossip. Let your friend know there is no shame in getting help!

Being a good friend takes intentional work, and practice. Being there for your friends will make you into a more compassionate person, and the people in your life will know you are someone who can be trusted!

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How to Accessorize Your Senior Session

Meet Abby! She’s part of the Class of 2019, and her amazing wardrobe was also from our partner, Backwater Boutique. We love being able to draw on their fashion experience and also, their enormous selection. They have incredible options for every budget and size, and I love that they also have multiple style collections. Whether you want boho or more traditional, they have something that will suit your personal taste. Find them here!

One thing that can really make or break a senior shoot is accessories. They have the power to change a basic tee shirt into something that reflects your personality. Below, you’ll see Abby’s awesome accessories, and the way a bold pair of earrings or a long necklace transforms regular clothes into a true outfit. The jewelry below is courtesy of Backwater Boutique, and I know this gorgeous grad had a hard time not buying all of it! Here are a few tips when choosing your senior shoot accessories:

-Jewelry can add interest and texture to your images: By choosing interesting pieces that have shimmer, cool textures, or depth, it will keep your images from looking “flat”, and keep the eye moving across them. This is more flattering to most people, and gives you a wide variety to choose from.

-Add scarves or hats that can act as layers: If you have a simple base outfit, like a tee and jeans, or a neutral colored blouse, consider adding a large felt hat for a boho style, or even a baseball cap with a polished ponytail for a sporty style. Be sure to talk to your photographer about the lighting on your face, when adding a hat. Large blanket scarves can look gorgeous for fall, and give you a “bundled up and cozy” look that is perfect for senior photos. You can also wrap larger scarves around you like a wrap for a fun and more unique look.

-Choose colors that flatter the features closest to where you are wearing them: If you are putting earrings near your eyes, choose colors that make your eyes pop, like pretty hues of green for brown eyes, or purple tones for hazel or green eyes. If pastels aren’t your best color, keep those colors closer to your feet, like with sandals or a skirt, so it’s not as close to your face and skin tone.

Stay tuned for more gorgeous looks from Backwater Boutique, and our amazing team of seniors!

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William | Foster High School Senior

It’s hard to believe that we have already reached the last of my 2018 seniors, but here we are! I also can’t believe how many amazing young people I have been blessed to work with this year. William, who graduated this spring, is from Foster High School, and really made the most of his years there. He was involved in typical activities like swimming, water polo, and the National Honor Society, which of course are commendable and took tons of hard work…but the main thing I was so impressed with is that he put in over 500 hours of volunteer hours in high school. He was part of a youth education effort at the Houston Zoo, and he tutored at his school (in all levels of math). In addition to these pursuits, he put in time coaching the 12 and under water polo team, and worked tirelessly with the Junior Olympics program in California. I was astonished at the sheer amount of time he put into his volunteer work, and how incredible it is to find such a selfless young man. He’s also a delightful person to be around, and I truly loved his mom as well! William is nicknamed “The Great White Whale” because of his prowess in water polo, and he will be attending Austin College in Sherman, Texas to continue his passion for the sport. In his future, he dreams of one day becoming a professor.

I knew such an extraordinary senior would need a cool and unique place to do his session, so you might be surprised to know that we did his shoot at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, because their front porch location is beautiful. It might seem odd to choose that spot, but I always try to look for the potential in a locale anywhere I go. It leads me to some of the best and most unexpected places, that my seniors totally love. William, I am so proud of your accomplishments, but moreso for your character. I know you will be an incredible asset to Austin College, where they are so lucky to have your intellect and your heart! Congratulations!

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Practical Ideas for Thinking Positively

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Maybe you’ve heard it said before: one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day. If that’s true, can you imagine how much good you can do if you made a point of thinking positive throughout your day? Of course, it takes training to adopt this sort of mindset, but I can tell you from experience that making positive thinking a regular part of your life will be a game-changer. Here are a few of my practical tips for thinking positive!

Start the day off right

How you start your day sets the mood for the rest of your day, so doing it the right way is important. We’ve all had days where, as soon as we wake up, we’re reminded of something embarrassing we did years earlier, or something that we’re nervous about happening in the future. Those sort of feelings stick with you the whole day long unless you do something to combat them early on, and that something is positive affirmation. It’s as simple as looking at yourself in the mirror, and saying something like ‘today’s going to be a good day’, or ‘today, I’m going to be the best I can be’ - even if you feel silly. You’ll find that this simple practice will help you to think more positively throughout the whole day!

Find the good in the difficult

Contrary to popular belief, there’s really no such thing as a perfect day. There’s always going to be something challenging in your day that has the potential of ruining it. When you encounter those challenges, focus on the benefits, no matter how small they might be, and you’ll find that the situation is a lot less difficult than it seemed. For instance, maybe you have a classmate that gets under your skin every day: the benefit there could be an opportunity to work on your patience and practicing love for others instead of sinking into a negative outlook and souring your day. Face those challenges head-on, and you’ll strengthen your ability to make the most of hard situations.

Turn your negative self-talk upside-down

Negative self-talk is like this: ‘I’m awful at this, I won’t ever be better than what I am’. Not only is it negative, it’s also self-defeating, because it implies that change will never happen. Positive self-talk takes ‘I’m awful’ and turns it into ‘If I practice more, I’ll be way better at this!’. It’s honest about your own abilities, but realizes that you can change for the better. It’ll take some training, but try to be mindful of your negative self-talk, and work hard to turn it on its head. It’ll change your life!

See every failure as a lesson to be learned

To err is human. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has experienced failure in their lives. It’s something that we all go through, but not everyone accepts a failure and learns from it. It takes an open mind to grow from failure, because you have to be open to changing yourself to do a better job next time. Maybe your science project bombed, or your speech didn’t go so well; try to assess where you went wrong, and take the constructive criticism your teacher might give you. Don’t focus on how you failed, but instead think about what you’re going to do differently next time. By doing this, you’ll be growing your character, your knowledge, and your abilities - all by the power of positive thinking!

Seek out like-minded friends and mentors

Surrounding yourself with positive people is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket. You’ll hear positive outlooks, affirmations and stories, and their perspective will sink in and affect your own mindset. Finding friends and mentors who live a positive lifestyle will help you grow in your own path, and give you valuable insight on how best to think positive. At the same time, don’t cut out the people in your circle who may have negative points of view, as you might be the only positive influence they have. Do your best to improve the lives of others, and let their positivity affect you in the same way. 

While it may take some work, living the positive lifestyle is so worth it! When you start your day off right, you’ll be in an even better place tomorrow. What are some ways that you're thinking positive today? Share it with us in the comments below!

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Ways to Make a Difference During Your Senior Year

Senior year is filled with meaningful moments. Whether it's prom, homecoming, or any other big moments, it can feel like the most important year of your entire life. In the middle of all the deadlines and all of the scholarships and college visits, I want you to remember this important truth: Your senior year can be even more memorable if you put yourself out there to serve other people. I know, it sounds counterintuitive to make time for yet another thing, but service projects can leave lasting memories that will far outweigh any time crunch you may have. Here is a short list of ways you can serve other in your community and nationwide, even during senior year (you can even list volunteer work on college applications and scholarship applications):

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Source: pexels


-Serve at a Mobile Pack Location: Feed My Hungry Children is an organization that helps feed children in other countries, and they hold events that you can volunteer at, packing the sealed food. This is a great way to serve in a practical way, and you can go in a group from your school or church if you can gather others up. They register for their events about 4 weeks before they happen, and you can find a location HERE

-Become a reading partner for a child. Many local elementary schools have programs that match high schoolers with young children to expose them to reading and mentoring. This is an excellent way to be a great role model for younger students, as well as spend your time helping enhance someone's education. Many of the schools where these programs occur include children who may not have parents to help them complete homework, or help them read. Here is an example program in Dallas, but you can find these programs easily on Google in your own area.

-Walk for charity: If there is a cause, illness, or program that you are passionate about, doing a walk to raise awareness will be a great way to give your time and effort. You will also get a great workout, and walking reduces stress, which you will have plenty of during senior year! Here is one example of a vision care walk in Houston, but the same website has tons of options no matter your zip code.

-Volunteer at a food pantry or clothing closet: Needy families and kids utilize food pantries and similar programs for their nutritional and clothing items, and these centers need volunteers to sort and organize the donations that come in. Volunteering at these pantries is crucial to their success, and you can really make a difference in the lives of the families that are helped. You can also help out at shelters for victims of domestic violence if that is a cause close to your heart. 

-Volunteer at an animal shelter: Many people are passionate about the care and protection of vulnerable animals, and going to an animal shelter is a great way to implement those values. You could also hold a animal food drive for your local shelter, or with an adoption day for animals who are at risk of ending up at a euthanizing shelter. There are usually always volunteer jobs cleaning cages and kennels, and working with animals who need holding or feedings. 

By doing service projects, you can ensure that your senior year holds even more meaning that late night study sessions or a successful senior project. You can make a true difference in someone's life. 

 

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Five Reasons to Find Your Senior Photographer Early!

Procrastination is never an ideal habit, but if you're procrastinating in senior year, it may cost you....literally and figuratively. Some of the biggest deadlines of your life will occur in senior year, and they can truly chart the course ahead of you. That senior project can teach you diligence and hard work and can impact your G.P.A., those scholarship deadlines can help you avoid a mound of student loan debt, and deadlines to visit colleges or job prospects can land you the situation you've dreamed of. But there is one deadline and priority you may be forgetting about: your senior photos. Yes, it's true. And, if you're smart, you'll find that awesome photographer early on....here's why:

-Booking early gets you the best date possible: Just like a wedding venue, looking around early on and checking out all your options means that you're more likely to find what you're wanting. And, if you have a particular season (like the heat of summer or the pretty leaves of fall) in mind, then you'll need to book early on to snag the best dates. Booking early also ensures you will be some of the first to have your images done and ready to show off to friends and family. 

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-Finding your photographer early makes sure that you're first: If you are trying a new prop, have an innovative idea, or doing something unique, you want to be the first one to do so! Instead of looking like you followed the trends of your friends, you will be the trend setter! They will probably want to follow in your footsteps, and they may even use your images as examples! This is great for the fashion-forward senior who wants to make a strong impression.

-Booking your senior shoot early means you're ready for things that need photos: By doing your senior photos early on, you will be prepared for graduation announcements early, and have them ready to be mailed out on time. This also benefits you because your friends and family can get your invites and party invitations early and put them on the calendar. In addition, you will have gorgeous photos to use for job interviews, scholarship applications, headshots, or anything else you may need. If your school allows, you will also have your senior portrait ready for the yearbook that you'll treasure for years.

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-Finding your photographer early gives you time to save money: Knowing just how much your senior photos will cost (packages, products, etc) will give you a tangible amount to begin saving for or paying off. Sometimes, this means that you will be able to purchase more images and heirloom items than if you waited till the last minute, when your wallet and your expenses are tightened up. If you're not the one footing the bill, then it will give you time to help discuss the budget with your family, and decide how much to set aside.

-Getting your photographer booked helps you plan your wardrobe: Knowing when and where your session is will prepare you for finding your awesome outfits. If you're a guy, you may not be too excited about this, but you definitely do not want to be looking for a cool outfit the day before your session by booking too late. Preparing for your senior session very early means you can find that "dream dress" and not worry about getting it in the mail in time, or needing alterations. 

As you can see, the earlier you book with us, the better! Contact us today to make it happen, and we will help you find the best time available!

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