Category Archives: Teen Scene

2019 is here and my anxiety is amping up!

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Another year in the memory books. If there are the same 24-hours in a day why do they seem to be getting faster and faster?

My guess… The Teen Factor.

I’ve got two teens in my house with one so close to college it makes me cringe and tear up every time I think about her adventures to come. No doubt it’s exciting, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the closer WE get, the more anxiety it causes me.

Big changes have always been hard for me, and my photography has always been to calm those anxious feelings I get when something BIG is coming our way. It might sound silly, but the year Thing 2 started kindergarten I was A MESS! At the start it was really hard because I didn’t want to lose him all day to school + he wasn’t real excited about going either. If you envision screaming, crying and flailing about you’ll come close to what our morning drop-offs were like the first few weeks.


That same year I did a 365-project. Having all of those photos to look back on now is one of my favorite moments. Yes, there were a few gap days because life happens, and then sometimes I’d take two or three photos in the same day. I’ve learned that BALANCE is huge with kids and taking the lead from them + not forcing things all the time. I see a lot of gray in my life and not so much black or white. But when I’m thinking fashion…It’s all black + white hands-down!

So, as we were driving from my parents’ house to the airport, I was snapping pictures along the drive of the gorgeous view, and (of course) my teens. And if your teens are like mine, really early mornings don’t bring out a whole lotta smiles, but I snapped anyway. During that drive I had an AHHH-HAAA MOMENT back to my 365 project.


Most moms take on a 365 Photo Challenge when their kiddos are younger, mainly because they are around their kids a lot more + their kids still like them ALL THE TIME. Yes, I think my teens are pretty great, but life ain’t perfect and we have our days that I want to hide in my closet with a box of caramels {and maybe a box of kleenex}. I STILL WANT memories of these years though photos + some videos. Our memory books shouldn’t end once the teen years start and the annual Christmas card doesn’t a year-long-memory-make.

2019 is the year I’m returning to my 365 photo project + I’m asking you to join me. Because just like exercise, we’re always more committed when we’re accountable to someone else.


Each month I will post a month’s worth of words or phrases as a prompt to help you capture an image for the day, or maybe for you it’s each week {52-week project}. There is no RIGHT OR WRONG way to capture your shot, it’s simply meant to help keep you motivated or give you a direction to look if you’re stuck on what to capture. If you post each day or week be sure to tag your images #smp365 so we’re sure to catch them and see your year unfold.


I’ll be posting the month long prompts in my SMP SHINE facebook group. It is a closed group, so you can request access.

I’d love to have you along with me, teens or no teens. Outline it how it best fits your life. The important part is capturing that memory. For me, as we inch closer to high school graduation, I want – actually, I NEED – to have these memories. If the quiet school days of the kindergarten years were hard, I’m a little scared about how tough letting go of my first-born to her college adventure will be {yep, my eyes are welling even as I type}.

Join me over in SMP SHINE, and let’s capture a solid year of memories together! #smp365

Cheers & Sparkle to your New Year!

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    5 Study Tips To ACE Finals | Senior Photographer | Geneva Illinois

    5 Tips To Help ACE Your Finals

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    Here we go! Like it or not finals are coming up before we get to relax for Christmas break.

    1. Listen to music WITHOUT lyrics. There?s actually a study that proves listening to music without lyrics can improve your concentration and memory. I would personally recommend Lindsey Stirling or other violinists/cellists. Piano covers are good, too.
    2. Make sure there aren?t any electronics (e.g. TV, Xbox, laptop, PHONE) to distract you. Take it from me, if it?s between studying for your upcoming math test or checking your Tumblr account, you?ll always want to choose Tumblr, because it?s much more fun looking at fanfiction/fan art than trying to memorize the quadratic formula.
    3. Take breaks. It?s not only taxing to stare at your study guide for three hours straight, it?s unhelpful. You start to zone out, and you might find that you totally blanked those last two pages and need to go back, which sucks. When you take breaks, though, make sure they?re regulated. Don?t just leave your studying at one and remember around seven. Give yourself thirty minutes to an hour to eat something, play on your phone for a little while, text friends, socialize, then get back to studying.
    4. SOS. If you really don?t understand a concept, don?t just sit there and stare at it and pray that you?ll suddenly get it. You won?t. Talk to a teacher that really gets it and can explain it to you. Most of them are available before or after school.
    5. Make sure not to multitask. If you?re at play rehearsal, don?t skim your science study guide while simultaneously trying to memorize lines. That?ll just leave you with a headache, no knowledge of science, and a bunch of unlearned lines. Make sure you?ve got nothing going on (or, for busy people, LESS going on). Study games help too, if you?ve got a Quizlet or a Kahoot or something like that.

    Meet the Writer: Emma is a sophomore, and interested in studying Education and English Studies with an emphasis in Digital Film + Screenwriting. ?She has a passion for creative writing, reading, traveling, performing, and singing. When she isn’t practicing for musicals or choir, she is hanging with friends or just relaxing at home with a good book.

    Learn more about photography, tips, tutorials, and more by joining the monthly newsletter:: Sparkle Notes {And right now You can grab the FREE Camera Ready Makeup Guide}

    blog-writer, sycamore-il-photographer, teen-reviewInstagram:: @ShiningMomentsPhotography

    Twitter:: @SMP_Senior

    Facebook:: @ShiningMomentsPhotography

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      Senior Guys & The Memories They Give Their Mom’s | Sycamore Illinois

      This senior season is filled with senior guys this year. I typically have two-or-three senior guys each Fall, but this year the calendar has been filling up with guy style!

      Which means…

      All 5-foot-3-inches of me should buy a travel step-stool for these sessions, because they are WAY TALLER than me + my camera!

      Most senior guys don’t hate having senior portraits, but they aren’t necessarily planning their session for weeks in advance either.

      They do however love their Mom’s and having THIS Memory is something they’re willing do for her.

      I say it all the time, but this really is the Year of Lasts and having senior portraits is a big deal for both Mom + Senior.  We take hundreds, if not thousands of photos of the baby + toddler years when that cute little guy changes so fast. But there is a huge gap between those toddler years and senior year. True, there are family portraits over the years, but in the craziness of senior year I think we forget that this year is the end of so many things.

      We’re excited about college visits and getting THE acceptance letter, stressed over ACT scores, happy to finally be the senior class, and also ready to move on to the next chapter.

      A lot of things will change next Fall and stopping to get this moment they’re in right now becomes more special than you realize.

      Brett’s a busy senior but we stopped to fit in his senior moment. Due to his varsity soccer schedule, these rainy days, + a few unpredictable events that popped up, it took us 3 times to get his senior portraits captured. But we did it and they now have them FOREVER!

      His Mom is so funny! Each time we had to reschedule she kept saying the words from Florida Georgia Line, “Meant to be” :0 And, it was MEANT TO BE! Brett’s grown into one respectful, tall, cool guy, and I’m grateful Mom asked me to be a small part of their senior year moment!

      “If it’s meant to be, to be, then baby it’s meant to be!”

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        Family Portraits | Teen Style | St Charles IL Photographer

        When you think of family portraits, what comes to mind?

        via GIPHY

        If Dad is answering that question I might be in big trouble 😉  They really can be FUN, and not always include the whole family.

        Say that again?

        You read it right. Did I get Dad’s attention?

        You get to make the rules and if you want the whole family together for portraits every-other year you can do that. If you want just the teens in the portrait every year, go for it!

        I’ve been photographing these two snazzy teens for years and we’ve mixed it up year after year. One year our session was the entire family + their fur-baby, another year our portraits were just the teens, and then a year with the teens and their dog. Let’s get creative and create the memories that’s the BEST FIT for your family.

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        In a sibling teen session it’s also entertaining to see how they interact with each other on their own. Mom was with us on this shoot, but she found a bench + watch from afar. The banter between Maggie & Joe is always priceless! Maggie’s cheerful + whimsical personality mixed with her brother’s matter-of-fact humor keeps us entertained throughout our photo shoot.

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        Another twist on family sessions comes at that BIG MILESTONE in the senior year! We have a senior session in the late Summer or Fall and then reserve a mini family session to get everyone back together to capture images just before the college adventure begins. So many things change once they leave home and start their college chapter.

        But don’t let the family photos stop there! Joe is a sophomore in college and Mom is still scheduling a Summer session to keep collecting their memories.  Make your family moments your way, just don’t forget to capture them each year, or at least every other year. Time is a sneaky thing! It keeps passing + maybe a little quicker than we’d like it too. We don’t get a do-over. Once the time passes…it’s gone for good!

        Make the most of your family memories today…not tomorrow!

        family-photographer, teens, photography-teens, st-charles-il, chicago-photographer, family-photographyfamily-photographer, teens, photography-teens, st-charles-il, chicago-photographer, family-photographyfamily-photographer, teens, photography-teens, st-charles-il, chicago-photographer, family-photography

        It Can Take a Village | Want More Inspiration?

        4 Hacks For Getting it Done in High School

        5 Tips to Ease the Shock of Her Being a High School Senior

        4 Tips to Answer, “When Should I Take My Senior Portraits?”

        Cheers & Sparkles to your week! 

        Shining Moments Photography | Family Photographer | St Charles Illinois


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          4 Hacks For Getting It Done in High School | Geneva Illinois

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          Ready or not the 2018-19 school year is about to start.

          Get a step ahead with these 4 hacks and you’ll have things under control and rockin’ senior, junior, sophomore, freshmen year.

          Hey freshmen, these are definitely 4 tips for you walking into those new halls!

          But we only have a few short weeks left of Summer so lets not waste your precious free days and get to those 4 points you came looking for.

          1/ Your Agenda In Style:: Organization is KEY! You’re going to be juggling a full class load, social stuff, sports, play rehearsal, band practice, dances…You NEED TO KEEP TRACK. Get an agenda or planner that fits the way you organize {+ your style is fun too}. Kate Spade always has adorable planners + different sizes to fit your bag.

          > Write or tape you class schedule inside

            > Highlight your room numbers {freshmen it’s a GREAT IDEA to go walk your schedule before the halls are packed on the first day of school}

          2/ Yes, apps are a big help in organization too. A great one to help with big due dates, projects, important dates is the app. They have a web version too. It has a calendar, to-do list, and virtual-type assistant options to keep you cruising through the school year. A few other apps that other high schoolers are talking about::

          > Talkboard is an app to share whiteboard work screens. Perfect when working on group projects or need to SEE an example. They have a free + paid version in the app store

          > The 30/30 app is one I use to help keep me on-task for big projects. You put in your outline of tasks & assign a block of time. Timer goes off you move on to the next or plug in your break time.

          > Quizlet is used by a lot of students to help memorize those facts for your test.

          > iTunes Radio or Spotify. iTunes Radio is free while Spotify is $10/month, but we all need to relax + dancing it out to your favorite songs is perfect after a long day {or in the middle of the day} Don’t judge 😉

          3/ Teach Yourself:: There will be subjects or chapters that you struggle with and instead of staring at the pages in your book, screen, or notes try teaching it out loud to someone else. Talking it out brings an ah-ha moment when you and a friend just can’t figure it out alone. Work smarter, not harder + two heads can be better than one when you talk it out.

          4/ Productivity 101 :: Get things done in short bursts of time. The Pomodoro Technique is a primo way to keep you on task in short spurts of time. Similar to the 30/30 app above, break your tasks or assignments into short intervals of time. Set a timer for 25-minutes. When the timers goes off take a 5 or 10-minute break. After an hour or so of that routine take a longer, 30-minute break. Get up + moving for that longer break and get the blood flowing again. Energize yourself for the next study interval!

          MEDIA TIP:: If you don’t use the 30/30 app, use an actual timer and not your phone timer or alarm. I don’t know about you, but when I look at my phone to reset the phone timer I get sucked into the social media abyss  {baddddd time suck}.

          It’s hard to believe we are in our last few weeks of Summer, but I hope you’re relaxing and soaking up the last days of fun-in-the-sun!

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          I’m here every week with new tips, ideas, and expertise to help with your senior portraits.

          Stop by each week or JOIN SPARKLE NOTES to keep up and be a Sparkle Insider!

          You’ll also get my FREE Camera Ready Makeup Guide.

          Cheers & Sparkles to your week!



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            Shining Moments Photography | Sycamore, IL | 815.751.2247