Category Archives: Senior Portraits

3 Ways to Save Teenagers + Mom’s Sanity This Fall

goals, teenagers, mom-of-teenagers, photography

Hey there busy Teenager + Mom~

We might be a little less busy these days, just a tad. But sprinkle in extra stress, add online school + reduced social interactions and the recipe might not be so hot for teenagers + mom.

WE ALL NEED THIS PIECE THIS WEEK! Seriously! I try to write about things that help you, interest you, and yes, share pretty pictures.

This week is no different in that I hope to peak your interest + learn small ways to tweak your days in big ways.

Let me start with a story. Because we like stories right?

Fall is my busy season with teenagers.

Every Fall in Northern Illinois my calendar is full of high school seniors + headshot clients. It’s mostly seniors, because it’s the last-first-days of their final year in the high school halls {this year, online halls}.

Most seniors here LOVE FALL! So from August through October I arrange my calendar to capture the story of seniors, and I love it!

However, there’s a trade-off with this hustle season for me::

  • The snacks {and treats} at my desk increase
  • Skipping lunch happens often
  • My exercise routine is cut short
  • I’ve forgotten to drink enough water
  • Coffee should be in drip form instead of from a cup some days

This Fall is DIFFERENT!

Even if I’m not the right senior photographer for your teenager, I can still help you get some big improvements in these crazy days. Story over.

Now to those 3 teenager + mom time-savers I mentioned…

I have three resources for you with two books {free if you check them out from the library} + a short course.

I clicked on these all in the last 3 months and they all kinda pieced together to organize my schedule in a different way this season.

The hydration course grabbed me, yes, almost literally, after reading a line on her blog, “Eat your water.” That kinda stuff always hooks me, and I don’t even like to fish. {I’m full of bad puns.} I’ve had at least 48-ounces of water almost every day since I gave up Dr. Pepper one Lent many suns ago, but come to find out there’s a better way to get my water {and it’s not just one clear straw cup after another}.

In her course she walks you through one simple step per day + gives added resources if you want more water knowledge. It’s not all about chugging one clear cup after another {thank goodness}.

From that course I found the book Quench. It went into more details of how water fuels every part of our bodies + a better way to get it + KEEP IT in our systems. You can buy the book, or check it out from the library.

Side Note:: I’m a huge fan of the public library. There’s some debate of where is all started, but for brevity’s sake I’ll thank Benjamin Franklin and the Library Company of Philadelphia for giving us libraries.

Last, the book Better in 5 came to me this week from one of my podcasts.

That 5 stands for 5-minutes. Just 5 minutes three times/day.

If you need help with calculus I’m not your girl, but there are a few math problems I can rattle off with speed…my times-tables from grade school + any percentage discount when it comes to shoe shopping.👠👞👢

5×3=15-minutes-per-day to revive your Fall…That’s it!

I have to get back to editing, and I can’t possibly do his book justice in this short time, but I hope you peek at the link so you get the idea of how

we can all do this – YOU CAN DO THIS TEENAGERS + MOM!

I have the best intentions not to repeat bad habits each Fall season. This year, my senior season will not over-run me thanks to this final piece to my hustle puzzle. I’m only half-way into Dr. Chatterjee’s book, but I’ve already added a line on my daily, “You’ve Got This” list {translation:: “to-do” list}.

15-minutes a day.

All three of these came together to help me see that while I love what I do, I can’t sacrifice my health.Or my families when I send them to the oatmeal/cereal canister or offer scrambled eggs for the 4th night in a row.

If you try any or all three I’d love to hear your side of the story.

I hope one or all help ya out!

Cheers & Sparkles to your busy start to school!

💖Andrea |Your Fall Senior Photographer

P.S. I feel in the times of influencer-mania I should tell you I don’t get any compensation from these links. I’m a Mom of teenagers + busy small business photographer who likes to share things I love. And if I can also make someone{s} life easier…WIN-WIN!

P.P.S. If you’ve been with me in my Instagram or Facebook feeds you know that I like my coffee, share ways to get in water, different kinds of exercise {and the funny meme’s to go along with it}. If I can help or INSPIRE you then come join us!

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    Photographer for Senior Pictures | Senior Guy

    Hey there! I’m back again, ya know, your photographer for senior pictures.

    However, this week I’m showing you how we have fun on a SENIOR GUY shoot! I’m the photographer for senior pictures for ALL!

    I know the guys are thinking, “Senior photos + fun…doesn’t happen!”

    OHHHH – but it does happen. You still don’t believe me! Let me show you!

    Senior-Photographer, photographer-senior-pictures

    Do you play sports? What instrument do you play? Do you act or dance? How about a book lover? Is there a classic car you’ve rebuilt? Just like planning for a senior girl session, I’ve curated so many stories for guys too.

    However, I really get senior guy’s attention when I tell them…

    I plan it all for you if you want, so you just have show up.

    Oh yes, you read that right!

    Whether you’re a Mom reading this, or a senior guy {because Mom made you read it}, let me make it interesting for you.

    You answer the questionnaire that gives me some of your likes {and the dislikes} and I take care of putting it all together for you until we meet up on your senior portraits day. Even then I make it FUN, or at the bare minimum, easy + less than an hour of your whole day.

    sycamore-senior-photographer, photographer-senior-pictures

    Let me show {and tell} you an example::

    Here’s James.

    Let’s say you’re an athlete like James.

    James played for the Spartan’s at Sycamore High School. He loves the sport, so I took him to a baseball mound to…

    PLAY BALL! {Did ya hear that booming umpire voice in your head? I practiced it just for you.}

    We played while we shot by asking him to pitch, throw, catch in the outfield. Get the idea? We took action shots + he didn’t feel like we were just posing for pictures the entire time.

    Although, being a photographer for senior pictures we did take some in his uniform in a woodsy location instead of the typical playing field.

    It’s another WIN-WIN!

    At the time of his senior pictures we didn’t know he’d play baseball through college. So Mom having these images of where it all started is having another forever memory that’s unrepeatable.

    When I asked him to pose with his bat + mitt, I captured posed images for Mom, but he was happier having something to do/hold.

    For many of my athletic seniors, their uniforms are a part of them. They live in them really. And it’s a big part of their high school memories.

    Let’s get any and all of those high school pieces into your images in creative ways.

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    sycamore-senior-photographer, baseball

    This location is actually on land owned by his family, in a wooded area on the outskirts of town. I did his sister McKenna’s senior photos as well, and his mom wanted to include some of the same locations for a cohesive look. Way to go Mom!

    Do you have a location in mind for your senior pictures? Let’s chat about it.

    Sycamore-High-School, senior-photographer-near-me

    Last little tip for you… Fall is a VERY POPULAR time in Illinois.


    {Again said in my booming umpire voice😉}

    My senior list for Fall has 3 sessions left, so I hope you step up to the plate soon.

    If you’re a 2021 senior and even think you’ll be wanting senior portraits this Fall, now is the time to::

    and ask questions, request a quote, reserve your session. We don’t get to repeat these LASTS of high school AND I whole heartedly try my darn-dest to have fun!

    So senior guys, make Mom happy beyond belief and ask her if she’s scheduled your session with Shining Moments Photography.


    💖Andrea | Your Senior Guy Photographer

    P.S. Signing up for the SMP e-mail list TODAY will keep you in-the-know for the SMP upcomings of tomorrow!

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      Have You Started The College Search?

      The college search in COVID times.

      If you’re a high school Senior {or Junior} you should be starting the college search. Life goes pretty fast, but if you plan ahead, you can ENJOY IT ALL!

      This week I’m writing about how to get organized for your college search in a time when it feels like we’re characters in the game of Jumanji.

      Which actor are you?

      Jack Black, The Rock, Robin Williams {the original for us oldies}…

      shining moments photography, SMP, high school seniors, sycamore illinois photographer

      Senior year is a celebration!

      Yes. It’s shaping up to look very different from last Fall’s start. It’s unknown what type of LASTS you’ll get to celebrate or how your college visits to campus’ will look. But getting creative + looking ahead is one piece WE DO HAVE CONTROL OVER.

      The ‘sames’ that should be on repeat are focusing on your grades, strong study habits, adding to your service hours and extracurriculars where you can.

      Then you come to the new side of a COVID senior year…

      College visits, figuring out your top 3-5 colleges, filling out the Common App + FAFSA and other senior-only tasks is like hopping around a game board in a “regular” year.

      Today I’m pulling out my magic wand {called a keyboard} to give you an easy checklist for your college search!

      Have you visited any colleges?

      Some schools have re-opened and scheduling visits.

      With the way states are opening + closing it’s better to visit NOW instead of putting it off until another break. Get ideas for the size of school + the campus layout, or feel you get walking around.


      • Does the college offer your major + other areas of study that interest you {18-year-olds are famous, even notorious for changing majors mid-way through}?
      • Are professors available to students {in + out of class}?
      • What are the class sizes for 100-200 level class + area of study?
      • What are the internship + study-abroad opportunities {they’ll resume, so ask about them now}?
      • Financial aid options {work study, academic scholarship levels, subsidized vs unsubsidized loans, based on WHEN you accept…}
      • How affordable is the school after any financial aid?
      • What’s life like outside of campus {city/town life, weather, distance from home}?
      • What athletics or arts does the campus offer?
      • What are the dining options?
      • Career counseling options; Alumni success stories {graduation rates}?
      • While you’re on campus does it feel like it could be a home away from home {is it a good fit for you}?

      You’ve got your questions ready – what’s next?

      1/ VISIT:: campus’ in the Fall:: Campus’ have scheduled visit days {register online}

      2/ RANK:: your short list:: 3-5 schools to apply to

      3/ STAY FOCUSED:: Colleges still look at your senior year grades + activities

      4/ ACT/SAT:: There is a lot of speculation if colleges will be asking for these this year with all the cancelled testing dates {there’s a positive 2021 😉 }

      5/ MAKE A LIST:: Start a spreadsheet with all the deadlines so you don’t miss one

      6/ CONNECT WITH COUNSELOR EARLY:: Might surprise ya, but you’re not the only one asking your counselor to send transcripts or getting letters of rec. Did I mention to START EARLY

      7/ COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATIONS:: Get your applications filled out + essay’s written for your short list schools.

      8/ FAFSA:: 2021-2022 won’t open before October 1 + some college scholarships are FIRST COME – FIRST GET!

      9/ REVIEW COLLEGE FINANCIAL AID:: If you file early the award packages usually arrive by late November – keep on top of your short list schools.

      March – July

      10/ TIME TO CHOOSE:: Notify your lucky school by May 1 that you’re coming {Again, positive thinking + moving ahead. Don’t procrastinate}

      11/ CONFIRMATION:: Have you received your FAFSA confirmation? Your award letter?

      12/ GET TALKIN’:: Attend scheduled college events, connect with your roommate(s), go to the summer orientation, A lot of colleges have Facebook parent pages + student pages.

      It’s a BIG YEAR, but remember to make it a FUN YEAR! It may look VERY DIFFERENT than you’re hoping, but celebrate all the lasts you can this year + NEVER STOP LOOKING ahead at your next chapter.

      TIME SAVER #1:: Common App. Save time by checking out which of your schools use Common App so you only have to fill out one application to send to multiple schools.

      After talking to college admission advisors we discovered that the applications don’t say which are from Common App or filled out directly on the college website.

      TIME SAVER #2:: Essay writing – Edit your main essay question in a document you save so you can revise it to fit future application essay’s when possible. Your focus still needs to be on your studies, activities, enjoying your LASTS…not obsessing over essay number nine that you need create.

      Want More College Help?

      Have a peek at these past posts::

      Just Starting the College Search

      5 Tips to Help with the College Search

      College Tips 2.0

      CHEERS & SPARKLES to your search!

      💖Andrea | Shining Moments Photography

      P.S. We started college visits sophomore year to get the easy questions out of the way…

      • Big – medium – small student body feels more comfortable?
      • Do big sports matter – don’t matter?
      • How far from home do I want to be?

      It never hurts to get a head start, totally pain-free.

      P.P.S. Know someone who’d like these tips? Be the SUPER FRIEND + e-mail this link so you all can HAVE FUN in these last high school years {or months}😉

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        It’s a New School Year! | Senior Pictures Near Me

        The calendar is about to start fresh…A brand new school year! And you’re asking yourself, “Where can I get senior pictures near me?”

        No. I’d bet serious cash that you’re NOT asking yourself that question. But I’ll give you 2 reasons why you SHOULD BE!

        Sycamore-Photographer, senior-pictures-near-me, senior-pictures-geneva-IL, Batavia-IL-senior-pictures

        For students + parents, it’s both exciting + stressful at the same time! The beginning of school marks off the days of summer.

        The start of school means supply shopping, seeing what shoes still fit, getting a sports physical, OR WORSE…SHOTS.

        If you’re a 2021 senior, PLEASE take a second to celebrate all you’ve accomplished to this point. And remember all your LASTS can slip away in an instant. OR with each passing day of a Stay-at-Home Order {my dear class of 2020}.

        Each milestone is irreplaceable.

        Don’t shoo this year off like your furry cat shedding all over your pretty black dress. Can you guess who came to sit on my lap while typing this piece?

        You’ve created some BIG memories in your high school halls.

        True, not all were AWESOME, but that’s part of life. And having those moments builds you + preps you for bigger lessons later.

        With every senior I meet + photograph, I hope they walk away feeling excited and confident in who they’re becoming; it’s one of my favorite things about being a photographer…giving someone a fresh perspective on their season of life.

        I know, you’re waiting for the TWO REASONS why you’d ask, “Where can I get senior pictures near me?” Here you go…

        1/ High School is almost over

        Look for a photographer who lets you tell a piece of your high school story. These portraits should be MORE THAN SNAPSHOTS. Yes, classic poses are part of the session, but more than that…

        What do you want to freeze in this high school time?

        Whether it’s with Mom, the senior, or both, I want to hear your stories. I want to help curate your senior portrait day where we have fun + show you how gorgeous/handsome you are, and give you a memory to look back on FOREVER.

        Dekalb-Illinois-Photographer, Sycamore-IL-Photography, st-charles-il-photography,

        2/ Giving a Day To Celebrate + Freeze Time

        Think about everything you do AND think about in a day. Make a mental list of what takes place from the moment you get up to the second you close your eyes in bed.

        If you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to stop everything for a day.” Then I pose this question:: At what point will you MAKE TIME?

        The older we get, the more responsibility comes our way. That daily list you just went through in your head keeps getting longer. Oh yeah, it really does get longer.


        Take a day where you don’t think about that chemistry test you have next week. Don’t worry about college applications. Forget about your part-time job.

        highschool-senior-photography, Sycamore-IL, Geneva-Illinois

        For one day …

        think about everything you’ve accomplished to this point. Take a day to relax, be silly, dance, get dressed up {or casual}, get your makeup + hair done. Freeze a day with your senior pictures and CELEBRATE WHO YOU ARE right now…in this moment!

        the-story, shining-moments-photography, dance, be-you
        Dance like it’s your best day ever! Because it will be💖

        There ya go! My 2-reason pitch for your burning question, “Where can I find senior pictures near me?” and maybe WHY you need to find a senior photographer near you.

        Yeah, I know, “burning question” is a leap. But seriously, it’s a BIG DEAL!
        sycamore-il, Shining-Moments-Photography, SMP, highschool-senior-photographer, SHS, Geneva-IL, kaneland-High-School
        Adding Mom + Dad into your story {even if they won’t wear Seahawks shirts}

        If you’re still considering if you want or need senior portraits, peek over at a few of my other SMP pages::

        2021 Fall Dates are filling up sooner than normal this year. Think we really want out of the house!

        So, if you have questions or want to reserve a senior session date, now would be a good excellent time!

        And one last time to build the muscle memory…“Where can I find senior pictures near me?”

        I’ve got THE BEST idea for ya {wink-wink}.

        Shining Moments Photography

        highschool-senior-photography, sycamore-illinois, batavia-illinois, geneva-illinois

        P.S. PPSSSTTTT…If you’re on social media, so am I. Come on over and let’s be social together!

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          What Every High School Senior Should Know

          What every high school senior should know before starting the year.

          You’re SOOOOO close! But before you jump out into that new exciting chapter

          I’ve got 10 things you might wanna know before you start your college days::

          I wanted to share ten things today, for my seniors who are leaving behind their high school days and those heading into their senior year.

          Photographer-Sycamore-Illinois, College-Freshmen, tips-for-freshmen, St-Charles-IL-Photographer, photography-sycamore-illinois, geneva-IL, what-every-high-school-senior-should-know

          Do you know the saying, “hindsight is 20/20”?

          How about an ahead-of-sight look at senior year? I’ve been a senior photographer for awhile now, and there’s a lot of things I’d love to share with each client, no matter where they are in their journey.

          But you’re busy, so how about just ten things every high school senior should know…

          1/ Embrace it + say yes to each opportunity

          This is a new adventure + some of the best times of your life. Look at each new college opportunity as a way to find your best path. Just because you leave for college planning to be a teacher doesn’t mean that’s where you’re meant to end up.

          When a new door opens, don’t be afraid to check out what’s inside. {i’m sounding too cliche now aren’t I?}

          2/ Have fun, but don’t lose sight of your goals

          Yes, experience new things, but remember who you are and what’s most important; staying true to yourself, your family, and your goals.

          3/ Give everyone a chance

          High school can steer you into certain arbitrary groups. If you played 3 sports in high school and no time outside of that life, this next chapter you can try clubs, the arts, student government…

          Be kind too. There will be a lot of different opinions coming together on campus. You’ll agree with some and others not so much. Keep an open mind, open heart, and be kind in your words.

          4/ Rush week

          If you’re joining rush week, don’t worry about what sorority istop tier on campus. Go with the house + the girls that make you feel comfortable, and where you can be yourself. It’s the best time…when you pick the right house!

          5/ Do your laundry and clean out your mini fridge

          You and your roommate will appreciate this one, seriously!

          6/ GET INVOLVED with things that interest you

          Whether it’s running for a position in your sorority or fraternity, joining an a ‘capella group, a political group, an art club, intramural sport team…Get out of your room! Do something, or lots of things.

          No matter where you choose for college, if you don’t get out with people you can’t grow. You’ll find students who have similar interests + teaches you how to manage your time, as well as being held responsible for something. #lifeskills

          7/ How about a phone call or text

          Your mom and dad love and miss you more than you could even fathom. It doesn’t hurt to call, or send a text every few days. At the very least, call once-a-week.

          senior-pictures, senior-photography

          8/ One group may slow but others will grow

          Your group messages from high school friends will probably slow down and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you aren’t friends anymore, it just means you’re all enjoying where you are, and that’s part of the journey.

          9/ The Freshman 15 is a real thing. You have a gym, use it.

          Use your campus gym membership, add an exercise class to your schedule, or join intramural games to keep you activity up.

          If you have a heavy work load some weeks, read on the treadmill or stationary bike. Get creative in keeping up your exercise.

          10/ Surround yourself with the others who have your back

          People who are genuine friends and really bring out the best in you. Depending on the size of your campus you could meet hundreds of different students in the next year.

          Some people will be passer-by friends. Some students will drop by your room with a pizza at 1am. Others may help you survive your chemistry lab. And who knows, one might even become your one-and-only for life.

          As you go though this college chapter you’ll change over the years because you’ll be exposed to all new things + education. As long as you stay true to yourself + surround yourself with friends you can count on it’s going to be your next great adventure!


          Click + subscribe to Sparkle Notes to keep up-to-date on all things high school + college + professional headshots related. {only goes out once-a-month}

          Cheers & Sparkles

          💖Andrea | Your Senior Photographer + College Advisor

          {Okay, not like your actual college advisor, stick to the one assigned to you on campus. But I’m good with the tips helping to prepare for those college days😉}

          P.S. I’ve found few more blogs that fit the realm of, What Every High School Senior Should Know before college starts::

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            Shining Moments Photography | Sycamore, IL | 815.751.2247