Hello and Happy Mother's Day to all the sweet mamas reading the blog today!  There are many of you that are about to send your first kid off to college or about to become an empty nest.  Some are in between and although in your mind it may seem routine, you know that the house will never feel the same.  

I feel like that is why today's blog post should start with a special young lady.   Don't get me wrong, there are so many and each senior has been amazing this year; but today it really hit me that I have several seniors that our journey began so much further back than the initial senior model orientation.   

One would think that a photographer or any business person should really keep everyone at arms length and just do their job.   You do the job, get paid and then move on to the next person.  Today's blog post may be a bit lengthy but trust me, it is worth your time as it makes the photos below even more special.  There could be an occasional moment of me "preaching"; but it is all with love and true joy behind my choice of profession.    There has never been a more sensitive time in the lives of young adults than now.   We are continuously plagued with social media expectations.  I do it to myself all the time. 

When I decided to go into only shooting seniors, the decision was not easy.  Financially our family was in limbo, aside from my photography, my husband owns his own business also.   We work for ourselves and our family.   We are driven to succeed but often times our family does pay a price.  If we are not working, we are not getting paid.   So, with being in limbo and making a decision to completely cut of weddings, small children and families....I took out a LARGE portion of my contribution to the daily activities of running the household.  Emory (best husband on the planet) never questioned my leap of faith.   He trusted me and I went for it.   I feel God had a major part in this decision.   God knew my heart and he knew that working with the senior market was best suited for me. 

I am often asked, why?  So many people assume there is drama with the mamas or the girls, or whatever.   (Sidenote: I shoot tons of boys and yes, they will be part of the feed blow up next week also! Their sessions are also highly tailored, a session is what you make of it...I will give advice but in the end it is up to the client) .  Honestly, I have the best clients and parents on the planet.    No, I am not saying there has never been one that was a bit stressful.  We are all human....but I can say that this year out of over 85 sessions, 2 NCL Senior Presentations, 5 designated mini session dates, 2 corporate events and the "extras"...I have only had 3 moments where I was concerned that perhaps my intentions were not being understood or appreciated.  So my reason, the senior market gives me a voice.  I find I can share my perspective and experiences and encourage the guys and gals to go for their dreams.  Do not let "life" dictate your future.   Do not let social media dictate your future.  When you look at Instagram, snapchat, or whatever....assume a filter is always on!  Live for you!    As parents we can share our perspectives to our own children all the time; however, they are not always receiving it with open ears...often times a 3rd party is there avenue of understanding.   I am by NO means saying I am that person, nor do I expect to be...but I do find that as time trickles through and we build these relationships with session planning, styling, and driving all over creation for our sessions there is time spent chatting and getting to know each other.    There is time where we can share experiences, laugh at the silliest of memories and also just take a moment to remember that part a "senior experience" photo session isn't just a shoot in a studio.   There is so much more that goes into it.  When you add the role of "model" into it...there is a whole new level.    It really boils down to time and extra perks that can warrant more time.  

Senior experience sessions are and always will be about the senior.   These are not sessions revolving around my wishes or Ashley's (hair and makeup).    You are the focus, your personality, your style...everything is all for YOU!   Our participation in styling comes from us just wanting to maybe add variety or a pop of something.  You have freedom to do your own pop or variety and you have every right to say, "nah, I will pass".  We have never forced a person to do a "look" they did not agree to.   This ties back to relationship building.   You are not only showcasing your senior year style, traits, likes and personality, you are also showcasing our work.   I want you to LOVE IT!  

With all the above being said, this year really hit me hard.   I couldn't believe that one of my senior models had been with me since 8th grade!  She had just finished 8th grade!   Sophia who is today's featured blog post has been one of my top people to take advantage of mini sessions.  Before either of us knew it, she was a senior model.  Yes, she applied like all the others and yes, she had to meet certain criteria.   It just blows my mind that this sweet girl has been with me for so long!   This my friends is how relationships happen.   No, I don't hang out with them on a regular basis....really our relationship has been built on photography.    However, our initial start produced a comfort level that helped achieve such an amazing and successful senior experience.  All of my seniors know they can be real with me, but I couldn't help but notice that Sophia could fall into posing effortlessly and still would not be "posing"....just being herself.   

This is my goal.   With that being said, there will be some MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS happening this summer for CLASS OF 2020 AND 2021!!!  Yes....that is correct.   Stay tuned and know that as I improve my talents and grow as a photographer, my goal is to grow my relationships.   Seeing each senior love the realness behind their shots could not make my artist heart anymore happy.   Having a senior from 4 years ago want me to do their college photos...well, that is just icing on the cake!  

Now, let's talk more about Sophia.   Sophia is STUNNING!!!   We go back a little and she was part of a mini session I did with a friend where we wanted to see if we could do "dance shots"!! Ha! ha! Little did I know how far that would go....

Sophia did 4 sessions with me this year!  2 Dance mini (one studio and one beach), One Fall and One spring!   She killed it!  She was our top earner for the model team and received so much stuff that well....perhaps that tuition won't be such a hit for mom and dad! ha! ha!   Sophia's studio dance photo was also the shot that took me to the "Icon Status" for Senior Style guide.   I received global recognition from that shot and didn't even have to be the one performing it! ha! ha! 

Here are some little facts about my gorgeous girl:

Sophia is a senior at Seven Lakes High School and been dancing since she was three years old.  She has been on the Seven Lakes High School Sapphires Dance Team for three years and is currently serving as Lieutenant Colonel and was a Lieutenant as a junior. She is also a member of National Honor Society, Spartans Out Serving and Senior Women. She was in National Charity League for six years and volunteered 636 hours.  Her favorite place to volunteer was the Westview School for autistic children and she volunteered 1-2 weeks every summer for the last six years. This place holds a special place in heart since her cousin has autism.

Sophia also was recently awarded one of the Spartans Out Serving Scholarships.Sophia will be attending Baylor University in the fall and majoring in Elementary Education.  She has known since she was a young girl she wanted to be a teacher she even set up a school room in her home. She is also excited that she will continue dancing as she made the Baylor Songleaders Dance Team. She will be cheering on the Baylor Bears from the sidelines and field this fall. And you can bet your sweet patootie I will be there for one game or two!  

Because of our time together and because this final session was so special...I decided to share some fun memories.  Now, Julie...don't cry...but I couldn't help it!  I am going to start with our most recent and then let if flow down to some  old memorie .   This year's fall session will be at the end as I know many folks saw those recently.   

Sophia, you are a beautiful young lady and I am so proud of you!   May God continue to bless your life and guide you in all aspects. xo -Mrs. Nikki