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Tips for Traveling on a Budget

We have all been there: drooling over the Instagram of that one friend, the one who always seems to be jet-setting off to a new destination. We have all dreamed of traveling to see new places, and I always love a good vacation! But, sometimes our budgets have other plans, and it can be especially hard to plan for travel when you’re in high school or you are a parent paying for a high schooler as they graduate. I wanted to put together some of my best tips for traveling on a budget today! You can start dreaming of your next trip, even if it’s just an overnight jaunt to a nearby city. Travel is good for the body, and the soul!

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

-Plan with safety and convenience in mind: Never go on a trip without telling someone, and if you’re in high school, be sure to tell a trusted adult when you’ll be leaving and returning. Have your car checked out before you go on a long road trip, so you don’t risk blowing a tire or having your car break down (thus costing tons of money) while you are away from family and friends. Make sure you can charge your phone somehow, and bring along emergency cash, food, and water anytime you are driving a long distance, especially in the colder months or extreme heat. 

-Make a budget: Decide what you will be able to pay, and if you’re traveling with friends, make sure you are upfront about what you and they will be paying for. It’s never fun to have a surprise that you weren’t planning for, or having to foot the bill for something you didn’t know you were responsible for. You can even use an app like Paypal or Venmo to create a money pool and budget accordingly. Be considerate of others if you are planning a group trip, and come up with ways to make it affordable for everyone, even if it means skipping a fancy dinner and packing your own food. Remember it’s about relationships, not the money spent. Make a budget and stick to it, so you’re not left with credit card debt as your souvenir!

-Don’t book your travel on a sketchy site: One of the best ways to lose your hard earned money is to book with a scam website. Don’t fall for emails that say you will win a free cruise or trip, unless you trust the sender. Be sure to double check any bookings you have made, and try to go through a well regarded travel site like Expedia or Kayak, to minimize the risk of putting your credit card and information out there for hackers. If possible, book using a credit card with fraud protection versus a debit card that can drain your accounts. You can also use the airline tools that show you the cheapest fares, in order to select any flights that will save you money. 


-Organize meals and snacks ahead of time: one of the biggest areas that will cost when you travel is food. You can minimize the amount of money you’ll have to spend on dining out by taking advantage of things like a continental breakfast at a hotel, or packing easy to eat items like instant oatmeal, granola bars, or beef jerky in order to skip at least one meal a day in a restaurant. Even something like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches may not be glamorous but they will save you quite a bit. When you do eat out, check Yelp for affordable places to eat, and order water to drink (even the few dollars adds up). If you’re going to be dining at places you know ahead of time, like chain restaurants, consider buying gift cards before you go at your local grocery store. You’ll earn gas points when you purchase them at most grocery chains, and it’s money you’d already be spending, so it’s a great way to save on gas.

-Look for cheap travel ideas: If you keep an open mind, you can travel on a shoestring, even if it’s just camping. Camping can be a great way to get out of town without paying for a spendy hotel. Travel is so good to clear your head and get a change of pace, and camping can do just that, even if it’s a short drive away. Gather up some friends, and get into the great outdoors for a trip that won’t break the bank

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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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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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Backwater Boutique

If you’re a local, you may be familiar with Backwater Boutique! It’s located in nearby Richmond, Texas, and we have recently teamed up with them to provide our senior team with some of the best fashion choices! The boutique received rave reviews online, for good reason. They have incredibly helpful customer service, and they stock only the most fashionable items for their clientele. Whether you are looking for the perfect dress, or a few staples pieces to add to your fall wardrobe, they have it. I love that they are also very inclusive, and have an amazing selection for standard and curvy sizes alike, which means every girl has access to such quality clothes. I loved their selection of dressy blouses and basics like tee shirts, and that their price points are not as expensive as some small boutiques. Most seniors and their parents are already paying for senior portraits, college expenses, grad parties and more, and cannot afford to break the bank for a photoshoot wardrobe…Backwater makes it possible to feel confident and trendy, yet stay in your own budget.

Our girls are loving this store, and it’s only created one problem: they all want to buy everything in the store! Below, you’ll find Jamie, who is part of the Class of 2019. She loved the black top she has on below (off the shoulder with embroidery) so much, that her mom went back and purchased it! The blue top below is our “team shirt”, and is not from Backwater, but the other outfits are, including the accessories. They have really great hours, and you can visit their website HERE.

Hair and makeup artist HERE.

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Grace | Class of 2019

I’m always scouting out fresh locations for my seniors. I never want my seniors to think they will only get the same exact spots as their friends, although of course every photographer has their favorites. When I came across Binders Gardens, I knew I had found a true gem. It is a wedding and an event venue in Needville, Texas, and filled with the most gorgeous greenery and little walking areas. I knew it was the spot for Grace, this beautiful and fun senior from Lamar Consolidated High School. She’s one of my Class of 2019 seniors, and she has a personality that has so many facets! I’m not sure I’d ever get to know everything about this lively and delightful young lady, but I enjoyed trying. She is involved in the yearbook committee at her school, and describes herself as “kind, loyal, and aware”. Grace really loves music, especially the hit songs by Pharell and Selena Gomez (who is her favorite celeb), and reading. One film that really impacted her in recent years was the war biopic Dunkirk, about which she says, “Seeing that movie showed me that the events were real, and how war effects the people involved. Also, how war can bring people who love each other together.” Besides reading and seeing movies, she also enjoys swimming and working out in her spare time. 

“I hope in twenty years, I will be remembered for being kind to everyone and staying positive”, she explained, “I really look up to people like my mom, because she deals with a lot, but she always makes sure that my brother and I are happy, and being the best that we can”. When it came time to plan and design her senior session, Grace shared that she wanted to look very natural, and I made sure her images captured her authentically. I hear pretty often that seniors really want to maintain their personal style and look, and I’m all for it. Sure, we all like to get glammed up sometimes, or maybe you want a more formal or boho look, but no one wants to look back on their senior photos and say, “I didn’t look like myself!” I think meeting Grace and doing her senior session (and getting to know what a spunky and smart gal she is), really helped me shape a shoot that shows the real her. Every outfit she brought also showed her taste in fashion and I loved seeing how her personality played into her choices.

Contact us today to schedule a shoot of your own!

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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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Elise | Houston Senior Photographer

I once read that creativity is like food for the soul, and that when you're an artist, amazing projects feed your heart. That is how I felt about this session with Elise, where I got to really spread my creative wings and make some art. At the core of who I am and what I do, getting to dream big has always been part of the process. There is nothing I love more than planning, scheming, and putting together something absolutely different than what I have tried before. We utilized a gorgeous Houston studio, where I was able to work with our fabulous makeup artist Kaitlyn to bring this my makeup vision to life. Elise was fabulous, and was willing to try just about anything to achieve an edgy and stylish feel. I especially love the photo of her mom taking her photo, because it captured the fun we were all having on set!

Beautiful Elise is graduating as part of the class of 2020 from Foster High School. She's an incredible athlete, participating in swim and volleyball, and she enjoys being with her friends in her spare time. She also has a flair for great makeup looks, and is always up on the newest makeup trends (I'm sure she could teach me a thing or two!). I think she's got quite a lot of creativity herself, and she utilizes her seemingly endless energy by practicing her makeup skills and dreaming of doing interior or fashion design one day. As her last summer job, she also worked as a lifeguard. I really loved her denim on denim pairing here, and her super gorgeous Kendra Scott earrings (one of my favorite pieces). The shimmery red and gold makeup has a bit of a Hunger Games feel, and was "fiery", just like my lovely model! 

I hope to be sharing more creative and styled shoots here on the blog, so stay tuned! I have plenty of dreaming still up my sleeve!

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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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Choosing the Perfect Location for Your Senior Photos

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Source: Pexels

Location is everything. For your senior session, it isn’t just a colorful backdrop or a scenic view. A location done right should reflect your personality, and ultimately who you are as a person. Where you have your portraits done will say a lot about you, after all, and you want it to be authentic! Thankfully, there are many wonderful locations around the Houston, TX area, and there’s always the option for a beautiful destination session in the place you’ve always dreamed of going. Wherever it is, we’ll work together to make sure it’s the perfect fit for you. In the meantime, here are some of my tips for finding the perfect location for your senior photos!

Know who you are

This is the best place to start, even though it may take a bit of thought to narrow down just what makes you special. Would you describe yourself as a fashionista? Do you love an urban vibe, do you love the woods? Are you an artsy person, or do you like sophistication and elegance? Are you casual, or are you fast-paced? These are all questions you’ll have to ask yourself, because they directly impact where your senior photos will be. Mull over your personality traits, and make a list of all the things that you love, even writing a short description of yourself. All of this info will jumpstart the process of finding the best location for you!

Know who you’re not

If you’re having trouble describing yourself, then describing who you’re not might help you zero in on what makes you different. Maybe you’re not a fan of the beach, or you just can’t stand it out in the sun. Or maybe you don’t like anything cliché, and you want something different than what your classmates are doing. Figuring out what you don’t want your session to include is just as important as finding the best location! You can even collect a few photos of places or sessions you’re not into, and show them to your photographer so they know what to avoid, and get to know your interests better.

Choose a meaningful location

Your favorite memories have a home. Maybe it was your grandparent’s backyard out in the country, or it’s your favorite haunt downtown from when you were a just a tyke. Having your senior session where you made some of your happiest memories will make your shoot mean so much more, and reflect not only who you are, but your own unique history as well!

Think about the time

This is usually the thing that slips the mind when considering your location. The perfect time equals the perfect light, and that can make or break a session: for example, an outdoor session at noon will yield some less-than-flattering results. Sunrise and sunset sessions are gorgeous, but it takes some extra planning to make sure we get catch the sun at the best time. Thankfully, you don’t have to think too hard about what time will work best for your favorite location, because your photographer will have the inside scoop.

Get creative with it

You’ll only have a senior session once in your lifetime, so why not do something totally unique? Make time for brainstorming: get together with some friends and check out Pinterest for some fun ideas, or talk to family and friends you know that might have access to a special location or two. It could be a rooftop, a vacant loft, an event venue, or even a vintage motorbike garage or an airplane hangar. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to have your photos done in Paris, or on the hills of Scotland, or at the Tower of London. Get creative with it, and find someplace that will help you stand out and show off your unique personality!

In the end, the best place to have your senior session will be the place that you love the most. Stay true to who you are, and you’re sure to choose the perfect location for your senior session!

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