This year has been a year of style shoots. I’m not really sure why, but I’ve had a spike in clients wanting specific, themed photo shoots — and I love it. It has been the biggest, and best surprise of 2017 so far.
Style shoots are basically amped up portrait sessions. A lot of time is spent working through the details: a theme, locations, outfits, hair and makeup. I have recommended hair and makeup stylists and even have gone as far as heading to the mall with clients to help choose outfits to fit their vision. Everything is planned just right, and when the shoot is done, the time and effort really show.
Earlier this year I had someone call me with an idea for a graduation style session. She had all of these amazing ideas to turn her session into something completely different from what everyone else is doing. It was definitely not just another portrait session, and that’s what makes these sessions fun.
I have another client, Karen, who I’ve known for many years and have created many images for. Our friendship started with a random email asking me to photograph her five year old son. I remember laughing and having fun with the little guy. Little did I know, this was a test for me to see if she wanted to book me for her wedding. Lucky for me, I passed. Since then, I’ve shot her engagement, wedding in Gulf Shores, a separate bridal shoot and her family photos. Now, we talk weekly about our life and experiences. And even though we are such different people, we get each other on a fundamental level, which is hard to come by.
Earlier this summer, Karen asked me what I thought about doing a Taylor Swift themed style shoot with her and her twin sister. Now, I love this girl, but if you know me at all — I do not love T. Swift. But for Karen . . . I agreed, and I’m so glad I did. We had an amazing, fun time. She and her sister Kristy just turned the big 3-1, and we used that as an excuse to get dolled up and take photos.
I loved the shoot because I didn’t realize that the Karen I know isn’t the Karen she gives to the rest of the world. The regular, day-to-day Karen is quieter and more reserved with her thoughts. I found out that I get to see the Karen as her husband and sister see her, as outspoken, opinionated and fiercely fun. I love that Karen. And I got to get to know Kristy a little more. Karen and Kristy are identical, but completely different to me. I learned that Kristy is seen as more feisty and outgoing. She’s not afraid to share her opinions, and I love that about her. I honestly hope Kristy and I become closer as the years pass.
I love that Karen and Kristy decided to celebrate this stage in their lives. Are they happy? Yes. Are they where they want to be? In some ways, yes. In other ways, they have growing to do, as we all do. But they celebrated something unique to them with something they love. They took the time out of their busy schedules to say “this time in our lives is worth celebrating.” There’s so much beauty in that. I think everyone deserves to celebrate where they are in life. I love that I get to be a part of that story.
The session and photos are fun and fierce — and, actually, pretty Swifty (apparently using Swifty is cool?). I can’t wait to do it all again, though maybe next time I’ll choose the inspiration. Oprah, anyone?
*Hair and makeup by Savanah Summer.