Category Archives: Teen Scene

Capturing the “lost generation” :: The teen scene covers so many changing years and deserve more photo credit than the token school photo or a snapshot with a phone. Capturing the teen scene is just as important as those early bay years. Capture them before they’re gone.

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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Three short words make up my Manifesto. And they all lead into the most important piece… SHOW THE WORLD YOUR KIND OF BEAUTIFUL! I’ve been pouring over sentences, words, and phrases since last August when I attended a workshop. At the time it seemed so simple when we were encouraged to sit down and write our Manifesto. Why do what you do? Why do you love photography? Why work so hard to build your business? Why do photographs matter so much? I thought it sounded like a simple task to write it down on paper and throw it out into the world.

Mistake #1:: It hasn’t been simple. Did I mention I’ve been working on this since August. I’ve written sentences, then deleted. Added phrases, scratched them out. Made a list of my most important words to include and whittled them down to the most important.

The words & phrases aren’t perfectly eloquent, or express all the reasons why I love photographing teens + headshots, but if I wait for perfect I may never hit publish.

Mistake #2:: Writing from the heart means being vulnerable. That’s a word I’m not good at practicing.  In this age of social media, where people say unkind words hiding behind their phone or keyboard,

it’s tough – I mean REALLY TOUGH to put yourself out there, and be vulnerable.

Will my words be read or shared? No idea. But I finally hit publish and it’s out there! Next, it’s time to print it and add it to my office wall.

Show the world YOUR kind of BEAUTIFUL!






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Show Your Kind of Beautiful!


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Have you ever walked into a crowded room and felt out-of-place?

Ever been sitting in a group and have nothing to contribute to the conversation?

Do you feel out-of-place with your own kids sometimes?

It’s kinda hard to stand alone, or not have much in common with someone. But it can turn into something pretty darn cool when you change your perspective!

We celebrated our oldest’s Sweet 16 this week and I sat down to write her another milestone letter. Every year I make a pretty big deal about my kid’s BIRTHday’s because they were…a really big deal ;). And we all know 16 is one of those big milestones with getting their driver’s license. I decided to make her a driving scavenger hunt this year {it was on my InstaStories this week if you follow along}. No car keys at the end of it, which brings me back to my questions that opened this post. She hasn’t been excited about driving, it’s been more of a requirement for her than a treat. I couldn’t wait to get my license, so this has been strange to wrap my head around.? My Dad told me just before she was born, “It’s not about you anymore, it’s going to be about her.” That’s stuck with me for the last 16 years watching her grow. I wanted my license A-SAP, but it hasn’t been a priority for her.

I’d kinda like her to drive and have that freedom, but she’s not ready.

I’d love to go out shopping with her for a cute new outfit and shoes, but she’d rather read a book, dance or go to the latest movie.

I like to go watch sports, but she has no interest AT ALL!

She’s comfortable with who she is in her yoga pants and play t-shirts. She is gitty over the release of the newest broadway play or Marvel movie.

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When I’ve “walked” into her world I’ve felt out-of-place most times. Year’s back I was sad that we didn’t share everything in common or that she didn’t share in my passions. But with my Beautiful Girl I was given what I NEEDED. Because of her I’ve learned so much about music, the theater, books, film, and to be a better speller {LOL, I’m the teacher and I always ask her how to spell}. I’m feeling out-of-place in her world less & less. She is my go-to for character questions, music, or movie trivia 😉

Just one little thing that needs to change…

Lets talk about changing this “NO PHOTOS” policy during her plays shall we?!?How’s a Mama suppose to fill her high school Memory Album or add to her collection in her Memory Box?

She may not be able to dribble a basketball, but when you hear her singing it can bring goosebumps up your arm.

I can’t memorize one line for a play, but I can hold my own in a game.

Next time you’re with family or friends, notice how they shine, especially if it’s different than you!

And then, don’t be shy to also?Show the World Your Kind of Beautiful!

Shine on & Shine Bright

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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}

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10 Teen Bucket List Ideas to Try | Geneva Senior Photographer

Bucket lists are really popular, as you probably know.

Before I die, I want to…go to one of so-and-so’s concerts, meet a celebrity I like, travel to someplace really cool, etc. But some of those are admittedly, far-fetched. Not to say you won’t be able to complete them, but it might take a little more out of your (or your parents’) pocketbook than you want.

So for right now, how about we focus on a four-year high school bucket list – something that requires little-to-no money, and is very easy to complete?

#1: Learn what clubs and sports are available at your school. Even if you’re not interested, maybe you’ll find something to try, and end up liking it! (That was theatre for me 🙂 If you decide you’d like to join a club, but your school doesn’t offer it, ask a teacher to help you start one!

#2: Attend at least one event – whether it’s a sports game, musical/play, or dance competition – in which your school is competing. It boosts competitors’ morale when they see their friends or classmates coming out to support them in their event,? you know that feeling when your friends come to your event. If you want to go the extra mile, show some school spirit – dress up in your colors or game night theme!

#3: Mentor an underclassman. It may not sound like a lot of fun, but you’re helping a younger student with something they may be struggling to accomplish, and you might learn some things yourself! Besides, tutoring looks good on your r?sum?. If you excel at a subject, share your talent!

#4: Attend a school dance.? I went to Homecoming my freshman year, and it was pretty fun (when I could hear my friends over the pounding bass). It’s an excuse to get dressed up, hang out with friends,?dance, and, of course, the afterparty! (Note on that: Try not to stay up until 2AM with all your friends singing karaoke and watching YouTube videos.)


#5: Take a Foreign Language class. Bonjour! Hola! Salve! Foreign language classes are essential to our learning, especially because you’ll have a basic understanding if you ever travel outside the United States – and even if you don’t, there’s still a sizable chunk of the population that speaks other languages. Pro-tip: It also looks really good on your college application.

#6: Talk with your school counselor about your future goals. Yeah, it seems scary, but they’re there to help. If you have no clue what you want to major in – or what you want to do after college – then they can help. You won’t regret it in the long run, promise!

#7: Talk to an upperclassman (and thank them for their guidance!).?My freshman year, I joined this group called Lil Sis, Big Sis. It was for freshman and senior girls who wanted to be more informed about high school. Seniors would take on a freshman and kind of mentor them through the year, showing them the ropes and helping them through classes and whatnot. Freshman would then have one extra person to turn to when trying to figure out the scary whirlpool that is high school. My Big Sis, Emily, gave me a huge confidence boost that first year, and I am really grateful she was there for me.

#8: Thank a teacher. Ok, so maybe it’s a little awkward to talk to your teachers, but they’ll appreciate it if you come to them after a test and say “Thank you for your help!” Everybody likes to be recognized for something they’re good at, or something they’ve accomplished. I went and thanked my Algebra teacher after the final with a huge bag of Skittles. She’s one of my favorite teachers to this day.

#9: Offer support to someone. This can be someone you know, or someone you’ve only met in passing. If you find out they need some backup – whether it be dealing with something serious, or only a little anxious – offer a helping hand. People really appreciate it when others go out of their way to help them out, and it can build a great new relationship.

And finally…

#10:?Do something outside of your comfort zone. So…this one is a little harder to do. I’m going to use a personal example. My freshman year of high school, I was (and still am) more of an introvert. I didn’t like spending much time around big groups, and hated doing anything with an audience. Still, not being involved in anything outside of the regular school day looks terrible on college apps, and leaves you with a whole lot of empty time to fill. I saw some posters for auditions for the school musical: Shrek. I never really liked the movies a whole lot, but I had been doing it with Penguin Project, so I decided, Why not?? I auditioned, landed the role of Humpty Dumpty (which came with a solo – remember that whole “scared of audiences” thing? Yeah, that was scary…), and made a lot of friends, as well as getting closer to a couple of people I already knew. I just finished this year’s musical (Wizard of Oz) and I never would’ve been in it if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone.

Those are just ten of the things you can try? in your four years of high school, and there’s so much more I haven’t even touched on! Now for numbers 11-100…I’m just kidding! I can’t write that much.????? I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post, brought to you by resident introvert Emma Doering. Write you guys later!

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.

Also be sure to check out Andrea|SMP on social for some sparkle, tips, tutorials, senior portraits, and, and, and…

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