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Megan | Foster High School

Our heroes and the people we look up to, often show a lot about ourselves and our priorities. Sometimes they are celebrities (which is totally okay), but oftentimes, they are just regular people who have influenced us in positive and amazing ways. I have found more often than not, the people that my high school clients list as their biggest heroes are their parents or their coaches. Megan is no different; and shared that the two people who have changed her life the most have been her mom ( who is “strong and hardworking”) and her head athletic trainer, Tiffany. I love that, because when regular, everyday heroes are our role models, we know we can strive to be like them. This lovely young lady is a senior at Foster High School, and she is an exceptional athlete. She is part of the athletic training program, the National Honor Society, and the Pals program at Foster, and she is passionate about all her pursuits. One important obstacle that she has pushed through has been the challenges of being an athletic trainer during high school, and how it helped her be a better leader. 


Her favorite highlight of her four years of school would be the football season of her sophomore year, because “of the friends I made and the friends I grew closer with during the long, undefeated season”. Another one would be when the football team made it to the state semi finals. Although they were narrowly defeated, it was one of her favorite games, and such an exciting time to be part of the student body. Throughout her four years in school, she has also honed plans to become a physical therapist after graduation, and hopes to attend Texas State University. “My favorite quote is a little cliche, but I live my life by it”, she adds, “It is that God has a plan for all of us, and we should trust Him to lead us in the right direction”. I know these words are definitely true for her, and I can’t wait to see where her path leads. In five years, she hopes to be getting into physical therapy school.  I know she will be successful in whatever she does, and I loved creating these images with her!

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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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Halloween Themed Session

As spirits roam the neighborhoods at night,
Let loose upon the Earth till it be light…
~Nicholas Gordon

Something you need to know about me is that I absolutely love dreaming up themed sessions. I feel like it’s a bit of a creative high for me, and it always makes me feel super inspired when I can come up with something new. I’ve always loved Halloween, and the subtly creepy themes that were just waiting for me to come up with something cool! I love basically everything about the holiday, but especially the theatrics, the dressing-up, and the the little bit of campy, over the top drama!

One of these girls, Abby, is part of my senior team, and we brought in her friend Sarah for this themed shoot. Sarah was kind enough to be our super-scary vampire! I loved that they were both willing to go to great lengths to make this happen, even as far as wearing creepy colored contacts! I didn’t want sweet halloween photos; I wanted a little bit of scariness, and these ladies brought it! The makeup was a huge part of the overall look, and I love the all-out creepy result that we ended up with. We added some really dramatic outfits to round out the looks, and it came out even better than I imagined when I first started putting ideas to paper.

Thank you Sarah and Abby for helping my vision come to life. I couldn’t do what I do without my fellow dreamers and creatives, including the senior clients I work with!

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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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Elizabeth's Senior Session in Quintana Beach

I don't know who had a better time during this senior session: me or this beautiful girl! Meeting Elizabeth, a gorgeous senior from Columbia High School, confirmed for me that I truly have the best job in the world. I love meeting every senior who I am lucky enough to cross paths with, but she sure had a special spark in her personality. Her friends would likely describe her as "funny, pretty, and outgoing", and I think they'd be really accurate. At Columbia, she enjoys spending time with her friends and in her spare time, she enjoys barbecuing, and spending time with her beloved dogs. One of her favorite books is "Miracles from Heaven", which solidified her faith and made her realized "how powerful God is". Elizabeth also shared with me that the person who inspires her most is her Meme, and that she hopes her classmates remember her as someone who was sweet and caring. 

Elizabeth likes cute and stylish clothing, and especially wearing sandals. We included some classic and elegant pieces like her navy dress into the session, and everything really looked beautiful against the backdrop of the beach. During her high school years, she endured a tragic miscarriage (shared with her permission), and that is why the angel wings below are featured. I admire her courage in sharing her story, and how she overcame such a difficult time. Although she hasn't decided what her dream job will be in the future, I know she will really achieve something wonderful. She has strength and confidence that will take her very far in life! 

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Five Ways to Prepare for your Senior Year

Yeah, we know you just wrapped up your junior year, but that senior year is just around the corner! It may be hard to believe, but that summertime feeling just may be giving way to another emotion: stress. The key to truly enjoying your junior summer and senior year is to prepare for all the obstacles and challenges yet to come, and help you maximize your free time by getting started early on. Here are five ways you can prepare for your senior year, right now:

Get a great planner; Since nearly everything is digital these days, you might think a paper planner is a bit outdated, but studies show that writing something down helps you retain the information. We love the Life Planner ones by Erin Condren, because they are so pretty and useful, but there are other more affordable options as well that are under $5 (we found some at Walmart and the dollar store). Pick up some highlighter markers as well, so that you can color code events, deadlines, and more.

Get a mentor: Yes, your parents or guardians are an invaluable resource and support, but it also helps to have someone who has recently gone through senior year. Find a friend or support person who has graduated in the last few years, and who is wiling to answer your questions and guide you through the process and the things you may need to do. If they're willing, try to meet them for coffee or lunch a few times during senior year to help keep you on track and listen to ideas or offer advice!

Start pinching pennies and buying things you'll need: It's really tempting to put off a budget or purchases for college until senior year is over, but spreading things out will help even out your expenses. We recommend making a large list of things you'll need for college, and buying an item here or there, when you can afford it. You'll be well on your way to everything you need, by the time your senior summer starts. Some starter items would be: iron and mini ironing board, storage bins, bed risers, laundry hampers, and under the bed rubbermaid containers!

Exercise: That freshman fifteen is real! So, staying healthy leading up to your first year in college is really important. Your body will be conditioned to stay fit and help keep your weight in a healthy range. It is also great for your metabolism to exercise, even through the stress of such a busy year. Try getting a buddy to begin running with you, or try to walk every morning before school. If that's too early for you, you may consider joining a gym that has a student discount, and setting aside time to go each week.

Plan those college trips early on: You can often view colleges and learn about them, early on in senior year, and avoid missing important school deadlines as well. Contact each of your prospective schools and find out when their available dates begin, and plan them out with your parent or guardian. Don't forget to request time off work if you currently have a part time job!

These ideas should help you prepare for a senior year filled with less stress than your classmates, and set you up for success! Don't forget to come back to the blog for more advice on handling junior and senior year, and how to document those important years with Creations with Jewel!

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Sydnie | Richmond, Texas Senior Photographer

What does it mean to be a young woman these days? It's gotten quite a lot of attention recently in the media, and it's inspired lots of women to stand up for themselves. I am so encouraged by the young women I have met as a senior photographer, because I have seen how this generation is strong and beautiful and so ready to serve their communities. I think that goes so much deeper than just being "pretty", though this senior is totally gorgeous inside and out. Meet Sydnie, from Bremond High School. At her school, she is involved in NAHS, and FCCLA (which is the Family, career, and community leaders of America program), and she describes herself as "artistic and honest". Painting is one of her favorite hobbies, and always the way she'd choose to spend a free afternoon! Sydnie also puts her artistic skills to use as a budding photographer, and hopes to one day make a name for herself in the field. 

Since I found out her "favorite place on earth" is the beach, we incorporated that as her session location. Quintana Beach is one of my favorite spots to get breezy, earthy images, and Sydnie was right at home there. She brought along a beautiful, ruffled pink dress that was lots of fun to shoot, and it really brought out her creative side. A few other fun tidbits about her: she was very inspired after reading the book Miracles from Heaven,  her favorite song is Heaven by country singer Kane Brown, and her favorite colors are pink and mint green! One more fun thing about this shoot is that Sydnie is my niece, and attended school with my son, Dalton. I feel lucky to know this darling girl, and so proud of her amazing accomplishments.

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How to Budget for Your Senior Session

The dreaded topic of money is usually the item that so many clients and their parents bring up first. It is an investment to have professional senior portraits done, and often, it can be tight for families who live paycheck to paycheck, or who want to provide their senior the best experience at an affordable price. As parent of a graduate, I know the many places your pocketbooks are being pulled: college expenses, textbooks, car maintenance, and graduation parties/expenses. I wanted to share some creative ways to budget today, so it might encourage and help clients who are considering a senior shoot (and wondering how to pay for one). We are just one of many professional senior portraits services here in Texas, and our signature selling point is that we understand our clients. I hope these tips can help you!

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

Divide out your needed amount way back at the start of junior year: If you are a parent of a junior who is reading this, nope, it's not too early! In fact, many parents start searching for a senior photographer as early as sophomore or junior year, and it's never too early to begin saving. After you've found a photographer you love, try to get a ballpark figure (ask your photographer for their session fee and their average investment costs, and take into account that many photographers raise their prices each year). Divide that amount by the number of months before the time when your session would take place (don't forget to ask what payments are due when). Make this number your monthly savings goal and set it aside. When your session rolls around, you may not have the exact amount yet, but you should be close, and it will alleviate the major crunch of paying for it all at once.

Get creative with raising money: Saving things as little as pop cans, or putting change in a jar can really add up. Although these things are not fast ways to earn money, every little bit helps. Larger ways to raise money such as yard sales are also a great idea. You can buddy up with a friend to earn money simultaneously, and have a "multi family" yard sale. Shoppers are more likely to come to larger sales, so if you can find a friend and split your profits, it can work out great for everyone.

Go through your closet and take clothes to a consignment shop: Most of us have tons of clothes and shoes we don't wear anymore. Taking them to a good consignment store or selling them online can be a wonderful way to earn money for your senior wardrobe or your session fee. Plato's Closet or similar consignment shops can be perfect, although your take might be small. Try EBay or Poshmark for higher-end items (like LuluLemon or Anthropologie) to get a little more bang for your buck...some nicer brands go for close to retail prices if they are in great shape. Be sure to wash, iron, and remove any pet hair from your clothes to increase your chances of selling them for a good price. 

Request contributions to your "photo fund" for birthdays/holidays. If you have eager grandparents or family members who enjoy giving gifts for holidays and birthdays, encourage them to put money towards your senior session instead. This way, they can be a part of your special journey, and give something much more meaningful than a trinket or memento. Be sure to send a sincere thank-you...and plenty of prints when they are done! 

Turn in books or DVD's on Amazon or a local book store: Amazon has a buyback program for some books and dvd's that are in great shape. This solution can help you clear out clutter and raise a little money in the meantime. They typically accept books and media in great shape, and will give you a few dollars per item, based on demand. It won't make a big difference to your fund, but could also be put towards clothing or college needs. 

Make a spreadsheet to track expenses and income for the senior shoot. This will help you keep your eye on the goal, and prevent unnecessary spending. If you can see progress, you are more likely to stick with your savings plan. You can also enter in extra money that you earn to get to your goal faster. If you are wondering how to find any extra money in the first place, begin tracking your regular expenses (parents and seniors can benefit from this), and see where you may be overspending. That daily latte or dry cleaning or Target run might be sucking up more money than you realized!

Let me know if you have questions or concerns about paying for your senior session, and I will gladly help direct you to resources or ideas. 

 

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Five Tips to Find The Perfect Senior Photographer

Milestones are a big deal. At this point in your life, you’ve already hit a good deal of them, like taking your first steps and entering your teenage years. Now that your teen years are almost over, you’re about to hit your next milestone: graduating high school! You’ve worked incredibly hard to get here, and now it’s time to celebrate and take one of your first steps into adulthood. I wrote about how important an event it is in a previous blog, and since it’s so important, it’s going to be one you’ll want to remember, and remember well. That’s why you’ll want to find a good, professional senior photographer to capture it in a way that does justice to your work and your personality. To help you do just that, here are five tips on how to find the perfect photographer for your senior photos.

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

Take some time to look around

Don’t rush into anything. One of the biggest things to look for in a photographer is their ability to make you feel comfortable. If you’re uncomfortable in your photos, it’s going to show through in the pictures you go home with. But how are you supposed to figure out if someone you haven’t met will make you feel at home in front of their lens? Well, one of the best ways is to look at their reviews. What have their clients said about their experience? Another way is to look back over their portfolio. If you’re not a fan of their past work, pass them by. A bit of research goes a long way when it comes to something as once-in-a-lifetime as your senior pictures, and trusted referrals are your best friend.

Involve your parents

Some of you just had shivers run up your spine. But trust me, their perspective is invaluable. Maybe your parents had their senior photos taken as well, and they regret wearing the funky trends of their time. How many of us “old people” do you know that have an embarrassing hairstyle we rocked way back when, or some stylin’ clothes that, for good reason, aren’t around today? Your parents might be able to give you some great style advice for your senior session, because they’ve been through it themselves. Your senior session is all about you and your style, yes! But most often, it’s your parents that know you better than you know yourself. Getting them involved beyond financing your shoot might be the best thing you could do for your session!

Value Connection

Being able to connect with your photographer might not seem as important, but here’s why: they should be able to understand your vision for your session, and bring it to life. You’ll want to find someone whose biggest goal is to capture the real you (like me!), otherwise they’ll just be interested in what they think looks good. They might be able to give you nice-looking photos, but not photos that reflect who you are. And who you are is what your senior session is all about!

Think about your wardrobe

Most often, picking out the perfect outfit is a lot easier than it sounds. Since your shoot is all about you, what you like to wear the most will be the perfect outfit! Maybe you like to dress up all fancy, or you like the more modern and urban take, or maybe for you it’s all about boho - no matter which it is, your favorite look is the one that’s going to look the best on you. To make it easier, get a friend or two to help with narrowing it down to a couple outfits, and get your parents’ advice on what looks best. Make sure that you’re bringing your favorite outfits to your senior session, and you can’t go wrong!

Source: Kamdora

Source: Kamdora

Think about the end result

Everything’s digital these days, it seems like. Call me old fashioned, but I still love physical prints of my favorite photos. If you’re like me, then getting a disk of your senior photos just won’t be enough. Some photographers save you the step of finding a good printer for your pictures by providing those services themselves, and it’s worth looking into if you’re someone who likes to frame their pictures. If the photographer is printing their own work, you know they’re going to handle it well, and that you’ll get some quality prints for your graduation announcements/invitations. Easy is nice!

You’re at such an exciting point in your life! You’ve worked so hard to get here, and you deserve to have some wonderful photos to commemorate your efforts. If you’re looking for a senior photographer who’s dedicated to your experience and satisfaction, contact me here to book your senior session with me today!

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Kacie - Bremond High School

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. 
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Kacie has big dreams to become a lawyer, and I have no doubt she will achieve her goal. She's kind, driven, and as she says, "a little bit crazy"! I enjoyed meeting this Class of 2018 graduate, who hails from Bremond High School here in Texas. One thing she is extremely proud of, is making the varsity team for basketball, a task she said took "a lot of hard work." When she's not focused on her schoolwork and basketball, she enjoys spending her downtime at the lake, and listening to country music (some of her favorites are Luke Bryan and George Strait). Kacie adds that the book The Green Mile was also highly influential in her life, and that her biggest role model in life would be her grandmother, who she describes as "strong". Lastly, when asked how she would want her classmates to remember her in twenty years, Kacie responded, "I hope they remember me as someone who was extremely brave". 

Planning her senior photos was so much fun, and a task I was eager to take on. She was hoping to have a stunning, glamorous look, and we really achieved that. Kacie is definitely a girl who has a classic and elegant look, and her outfits (including a tunic blouse and awesome jewelry) all suited her personality and style. This bold senior shared that she is on social media often, and that's one of the reasons we try to keep our social channels active here at Creations by Jewel! You can find us over on Facebook HERE!

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