Category Archives: Teen Scene

Are You Ready For High School Girls + Guys?

Another class of seniors are going to enter the school halls soon. So this week I’m giving a blog re-cap for this year’s high school girls and guys!

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If you’re an upper class-man school life is getting real busy! You have the ACT/SAT to prep for, your senior pictures, college visits, and the list could scroll down your phone for 18-minutes.

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 and I’ve collected some good intel to help.

I’m not writing your college application essay for you though. Been there – done that – don’t wanna go back!


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 golden. Your high school typically administers at least one of these tests during the school day {YAY YOU – you don’t have to give up a coveted Saturday}.

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::

When does the application window open::

If you’ve narrowed down the colleges you’re applying to, be sure to get the application open date on your calendar.

AND the last day to apply.

That also includes not waiting until the last minute to apply, send your letters of recommendation, write your essay, or 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 get your Fall senior portraits scheduled!

My High School Girls + Guys…You only graduate high school once, capture the moment!

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

Cheers & SPARKLES to the start of a FANTASTIC year!

💖-Andrea |Shining Moments Photography

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    Capture Life! One Day At A Time

    It’s the last first day of high school and if you don’t capture life as it happens it’s gone forever.

    “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?”


    “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

    Capture life! Because a picture’s worth a ___ words.

    These moments – these LAST moments, don’t give you a rewind button. Our TV’s can be on-demand playback, but reality won’t ever get that feature.

    There isn’t a 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 TRILLION words.

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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?


    {I say with little love + little heart emoji’s all around}

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

    Say what!?

    That picture you want to take as his meeting up with his buddies + 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…

    We can tell your senior story together with an SMP Collection that captures so many of the hobbies, sports, style, makeup looks, soon-to-be college home before your senior leaves to live their next adventure.

    If you want to chat about ideas let me know.

    [email protected]

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    Cheers & Sparkle to your best life!

    💖-Andrea | Your Storytelling Photographer

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      Did You Capture Those Everyday Moments?

      Another year in the memory books. Did you capture those everyday moments last year?

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      Those toddlers are teenagers now and the cute chubby-faced photos don’t fill the camera {or camera phone} as much.

      It’s the “Teen Factor”.

      I’ve got two teens in my house with one college bound. It makes me cringe and tear up every time I think about her adventures to come.

      You betcha 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 brings calm to 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!

      A big-red-eye-mascara-running-MESS! I didn’t want to lose him all day to school + he wasn’t real excited about going. If you picture a screaming, crying and flailing 5-year-old you’ll come close to what our morning drop-offs resembled the first few weeks.


      That same year I did a 365-project to record our everyday moments. Having all of those photos to look back on now brings back moments I had forgotten about. Yes, there were a few gap days because life happens, and then sometimes I’d take two or three photos in the same day.

      BALANCE is huge with kids and taking the lead from them + not forcing things all the time.

      You can start a 365 or 52-week photo story at any stage. Record your everyday moments in any of these life phases {there’s no rules}::

      • Pregnancy
      • Babies first year
      • Toddler phase
      • The terrible two phase
      • Remember that Covid-19 thing? {yep, I’ve got a photo story of that}
      • High school years


      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.

      I do 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 in photos + some videos. Our memory books shouldn’t end once the teen years start. The annual Christmas card doesn’t a year-long-memory-make.

      I return to a photo project often and it’s a new family autobiography.

      If you need a list to follow for your 365-project or week-52 photo journal google those words and oddles & doodles of lists will come up to guide you.

      I share my weekly photo journal from time-to-unscheduled-time. You’ll find them on my social media::

      Capture your everyday memories.

      For me, as we inch closer to the next phase in our family, 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}.

      Cheers & Sparkle to your everyday moments captured!

      💖-Andrea | Memory Keeper

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

        5 Study Tips To ACE Your Finals

        Here we go! Like it or not finals are coming. Before you get to relax for break I’ve got 5 study tips to help get your through finals.

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        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 choose Tumblr. 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, text friends, socialize, then get back to studying.


        If you really don’t understand a concept, don’t 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, use those to make study questions.

        Meet the Writer:: Emma is 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 upcoming dates by joining the monthly newsletter:: Sparkle Notes {And you can grab the FREE Camera Ready Makeup Guide}

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        Instagram:: @ShiningMomentsPhotography

        Facebook:: @ShiningMomentsPhotography

        Twitter:: @SMP_Senior

        Shining Moments Photography | Senior + Headshot Photographer

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          Senior Guys + The Memories They Give Their Mom’s

          A Fall season filled with senior guys doesn’t normally happen. I typically have three to four senior guys each Fall. The calendar is full with guy style!

          YAY FOR MOM!

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          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 Mom + 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!

          Having senior portraits is a big deal for both Mom + Senior.  We take hundreds, if not thousands of photos of the baby + toddler years. They are so cute and cuddly little boys.

          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 we forget this year is the end.

          We’re excited about college visits and getting THE acceptance letter. There is stress over ACT scores. Excitement to finally be the senior class and ready to move onto the next chapter too.

          A lot of things will change next Fall.

          senior-portraits, senior-pictures, senior-photos, sycamore-il, illinois-photographers, guy-style

          Stopping to get this moment they’re in right now becomes special in telling that final chapter of school at home.

          Brett’s a busy senior guy but he stopped to fit in his senior moment for Mom. Due to his varsity soccer schedule, rainy days + a few unpredictable events, 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 rescheduled she kept saying the words from Florida Georgia Line, “Meant to be” :0

          It’s MEANT TO BE! Brett is one respectful, super tall, cool senior guy, and I’m grateful Mom asked me to be a part of his senior year moment!

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

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          Cheers & Sparkles

          💖-Andrea | High School Senior Photographer

          P.S. Fall is a popular time, I mean REALLY POPULAR! If you have a Fall backdrop wish for your senior portraits think ahead and CONTACT TODAY!

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            Shining Moments Photography | Sycamore, IL | 815.751.2247