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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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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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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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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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Ashley | Texas Senior Photographer

Meet my gorgeous niece, Ashley! I’m about as proud as an aunt could be. She’s not only pretty on the outside, she’s someone I love very much and enjoy being around….a pretty special human. When I found out I was going to do her senior photos, we got to work putting together outfits that would fit the location we had secured: downtown Houston. It’s urban flair and cool architecture was just what we wanted, in order to try out tons of chic looks and different styles. Ashley is wearing a rented dress from the awesome company Rent the Runway, and we both fell in love with the tiered styling and the icicle earrings she added. Rent the Runway is a perfect choice for senior photos, because your dream dress may be a jaw-dropping formal dress like this one, that you can’t afford or won’t wear often enough to justify purchasing. Because Ashley was up for anything, we did tons of different styling and looks, and I’m sorta partial to the “Nope” shirt…it made me giggle and came out as such a fierce, editorial style!

Ashley’s a grad from Tarkington High School, and is active in her local FFA chapter. She’s got big dreams of becoming an ultrasound tech, and says high school has been a learning experience of beginning to truly love herself! When she has free time, she enjoys spending time with family, like her mom who she says “is who inspires me. She never complains that being a mom and a dad is too much to handle, and she smiles even on the bad days”. Ashley says her goal is to be remembered as someone who helped others, and always followed her dreams! I think she’s well on her way.

Do you follow us over on our Facebook page? If not, you're missing out on our events, special offers, behind the scenes peeks, and tips and tricks for high school seniors. We post all of these things and more, and we would love for you to join us!

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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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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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