Category Archives: Teen Scene

Are You Sure You’re Ready For Senior Year?

2020 seniors head back to class in little over a month, so this week we’re having a blog re-cap to put some senior help in one spot for ya!

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Your senior portrait day is part of the FUN of senior year, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done too.

You’re allllllll-most done, but there’s still a long way to go {sorry if I’m the first to break that to ya}.

The GOOD NEWS is that I’ve been immersed in high school + senior year life for awhile now and I’ve collected some good intel to help ya. I’m not writing your college application essay for you though.

Been there – done that – don’t wanna go back!

Juniors:: Decide whether you’re taking the SAT or the ACT. Colleges accept both scores. I know Midwest colleges lean toward the ACT and Northwest colleges lean toward the SAT, but as long as you have a score from one of the tests you’re good. Your high school typically administers at least one of these tests to you during the school day too.

We’ve been ACT-takers in our house, and if you are too then here are five tips to help you prep ⇒ ACT Prep

Still looking or haven’t started visiting colleges yet? Check these two blog pieces:: College Comparison Checklist + College Tips

When does the application window open:: If you’ve narrowed down the colleges you’re applying to know when the application opens AND the last day to apply. That also includes not waiting until the last minute to apply, send your letters of rec, write your essay, fill out the FASFA…

Whad-da-ya mean I need a yearbook photo? Every 2020 senior gets that postcard in the mail to get their senior yearbook photo taken. Take a look at the yearbook photo post to get the whole story on if you HAVE to go.

If you’re planning to have a graduation party, then my Graduation Party Checklist is a MUST-HAVE!

And last BUT DEFINITELY NOT LEAST {in my book} get your senior portraits scheduled! You only graduate high school once, so make sure it gets captured!

I capture your best self before you head off to live your best life!

Cheers! 💖-Andrea

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    Capture Life! One Day At A Time

    “Hey, remember the first day of high school when Billy walked in as a freshmen and his eyes bulged like oranges when he saw how many other kids were flooding into the school building?”

    No?

    “I wish I’d taken a picture that day. I’d tack it next to his Joker-pasted smile as he swaggered through the kingdom doors this morning on his last-first day of high school.”

    King of the hill

    Top of the school

    The year

    A picture’s worth a 1,000 words. Not even close! These moments – these LAST moments, don’t give you a rewind button. There is no repeat {“I want to repeat my senior year, just so Mom can take all those pictures she forgot,” said no high schooler ever!} This year of lasts is worth a MILLION.

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    Sure, we can talk about it, maybe visualize it when we say, “remember when” but it’s nothing like having that photo to put in the album, baby book, or frame.

    “They hate when I ask to take their picture.”

    It’s your call to snap that picture or not. But, before you pass on that moment…

    1. Does your Senior know what it’s like to be a 48-year-young parent who’s raised a toddler to a tween, and now almost-adult?
    2. As you look at him, ok, look UP at him, does he have any idea what it’s taken for you to learn how to let go so they can soar on their own?

    SNAP THE PICTURE! {I say with little love + little heart emoji’s all around}

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    Over the years I’ve practiced and practiced at my photography + my business. The bonus here is that my photography business has given my momming-days clarity.

    Say what!?

    That picture you want to take as his meeting up with his buddies and sauntering through those doors doesn’t have to be a “stop + pose” moment. Actually the best story-telling photo of his senior year could be the one you snap as he walks through the door, backpack slung over shoulder, knuckle-bumping his buddy. {Do they still knuckle-bump, or are we back to high-fives yet?}

    BLINK! We’re in the final three months of senior year.

    For the love of chocolate, record your story moments! And don’t stop there, PRINT that story. It’s the easiest + best picture book you can write…

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    Cheers & Sparkle to your best life!💖

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      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.

      TORTURE!

      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.

      ARE YOU WITH ME?

      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.

      HOW WILL IT WORK?

      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.

      WHERE DO I FIND THE LIST?

      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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            Shining Moments Photography | Sycamore, IL | 815.751.2247