Graduation is a much-anticipated event for high school seniors. They might look to it with excitement as they move on to the next phase in their life. Or they may see it with sadness as they say goodbye to that chapter. Either way, graduation signifies a huge milestone achieved. Both an ending and a beginning. A senior portrait session is the perfect way to commemorate the occasion.
I captured this senior portrait session with my cousin’s daughter (who I consider my niece) in the fall of 2019. It was to signify her graduation in the spring of 2020. She shared this special session with her best friend. And it was full of fun and optimism for the year to come. We used my outdoor studio in Newtown, moving around to my favorite areas around the property.
The autumn light gave a soft rosy glow to the pictures. I had the feeling that this sweet girl was well on her way to a promising future. It was a beautiful evening and a lovely time of year. Fallen leaves scattered the ground, and hints of orange and yellow were emerging on the trees.
THE UNEXPECTED PATH OF 2020
As spring 2020 has approached, high school seniors everywhere (my niece included) have been facing a situation they couldn’t have expected amid the covid-19 outbreak. For years, many of them have looked forward to milestone events like prom and the graduation ceremony. Now they are missing out on those crucial pieces of their young adult life.
2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year, Chris Dier, realized what the classes of 2020 across the country must be feeling. He wrote an open letter to them, relating their current experience to his experience of missing his senior year due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He acknowledged their frustration, disappointment, and sadness by encouraging them to embrace their feelings and know that they are valid emotions.
What I like best about Dier’s open letter is the words of encouragement he ends on. “If a decade of teaching has taught me anything, it’s that people your age are resilient and innovative. … You are part of the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, and you embrace those differences in ways adults seem to struggle.” He encourages youth to use their strengths to help others in these tough times, to continue living in the best ways they can, and to rest assured that they are loved and valued.
A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR THE YOUTH OF 2020
Doing this senior portrait session with my niece showed me how truly extraordinary this upcoming generation is. I see possibility for the future in her laughter with her best friend. I see the potential for creativity and positive change for our world. These young people are experiencing a setback that will only make them stronger and wiser.
SENIOR PORTRAIT SESSIONS TO REMEMBER
These senior portraits are now more important than ever before. They reaffirm the message that despite all the obstacles these wonderful teens will survive — and thrive. That moment of hope was captured, and that hope still lives on, showing once again, the power that photos have on our lives and memories.