Kim and Henry {Long Island, Maine engagement session}

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In early September I made the ferry trip to Long Island (Maine) to do an engagement session for Kim and Henry. I photographed Kim’s senior photos several years ago, as well as many other milestones for the family. And I’ll be looking forward to hopping on the ferry again next year to photograph Kim and Henry’s wedding.
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It was my first trip ever to Long Island…I had never even heard of it when Kim asked me if I would go there. It’s a small island in Casco Bay and Wikipedia says the population is around 240. Henry grew up on the island and his family has lived and worked there for generations.

They met me at the dock and proceeded to drive me all around the island, stopping here and there for photos. Some spots planned, some unplanned. It was a great way for me to see the island and the weather was perfect.
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Kim and Henry met when they ‘swiped right’ on Tinder. They say they started talking and never stopped. Kim was going to school in Vermont, Henry was in Maine. They officially met in December of 2013 when Henry made a trip to Vermont for the birth of his nephew. Kim says they ended up watching Christmas movies for hours that evening because they both love Christmas.
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This spot is special to Kim and Henry because it’s where they got engaged. On a New Year’s Eve day, Kim had been at work all day on the mainland, and Henry picked her up at the island dock. He took her to her favorite spot on the island and they had a little picnic with hot cocoa and banana bread (Kim’s faves) and then he popped the question.
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Plans are well underway for the September 2017 wedding on the island. Kim and Henry are really glad they decided to do an island wedding and are really excited for everyone to get a little taste of island life.
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They wanted to embrace all of Long Island in the photos and they think we accomplished that really well.
I saw so many nooks and crannies of the island, and each with a different look.
There was rocky coast, fishing boats, sandy beach, pebbly beach, trees and flowers…
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When I asked Kim what advice she had for other couples about to have engagement photos done, she said “Just have fun with it! Smile big and let Jill work her magic!” Good advice!
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We ended the afternoon with the most beautiful sunset, just before they took me back to the dock to catch the return ferry.
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Thanks to Kim and Henry for being such great hosts and tour guides.
Looking forward to my wedding trip there next September!

 

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McKayla, Oxford Hills class of 2016

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I had a great experience photographing McKayla’s senior photos. She’ll be graduating in a few months from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, and it’s seniors like her that give me great hope for the future.

Besides being incredibly beautiful, this girl is super smart and very active. She’s a National Honor Society member, on a variety of sports teams — soccer, cheerleading, and track and field. She’s a Freshman Kick-off Mentor. She plays multiple instruments in the Jazz Band and String Quartet. She’s in the Chamber Choir and took part in the Wizard of Oz Community Broadway Musical.
Not to mention she also has a job!

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I recently asked McKayla to tell me about her senior portrait experience, and here’s what she had to say…

Q: How was your overall senior portrait experience?
A: It was awesome! Despite the humidity, I had so much fun, it felt like it was all about me. It was a special time I will not forget.
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Q: What was your favorite part of the experience?
A: I think my favorite part was going back to see the photos, the video was so nice and I know my family loved it too.
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Q: What’s one piece of advice you have for others who are having their senior portraits done?
A: Don’t stress about it! You’ll be struggling to find the one you like the most rather than trying to find one you like. Just enjoy every moment of the spot light being on you. Oh and learn how to keep your face relaxed because I couldn’t seem to keep a relaxed face, it made me laugh a lot though which helped create some good pictures. When in doubt, laugh!

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Q: Why did you want to include the props you brought?
A: I brought my saxophone, violin, javelin and soccer cleats. I brought these items because they are defining symbols for me in my high school career. One thing that has stayed consistent with me throughout middle and high school is music and my instruments. Soccer is a sport I’ve played since third grade and is my favorite sport. I started throwing Javelin my sophomore year and it came very naturally to me, I’ve gone to States every year since and hope to go this year too. I just brought things I love, things I will talk about when people ask me what I did in high school.
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Q: How would you advise someone else to prepare for a senior photo session?
A: I think if you don’t have anything you really care to bring, then don’t search for something, you don’t need anything. But if you’re really into reading, bring your favorite childhood book or a book you really like now or a book that made you realize something special. If you like math, you’re weird, but you could bring a math book. I think if there’s an item that describes you or your high school career, go for it and bring it with you.
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Q: What was your biggest fear or worry about the photo shoot? And what was the outcome?
A: I think my biggest fear was that my pictures wouldn’t look like me. I was worried they would be over edited, but when I was getting my hair done I was talking to Jill and I let her know I didn’t want them edited so much that it didn’t look like me, but edited enough so that it’s still special. She did a perfect job.
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Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I want to work all summer and then go to college in the fall. I plan to major in Secondary Education with a concentration in English. I have a lot of schools to choose from but one of my top choices is University of Maine at Farmington.
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When I asked McKayla for three words she would use to describe herself, she said “Leader. Passionate. Hardworking.” Those are fantastic qualities to have, and I could see them all during my time with her. I am sure McKayla will succeed in whatever she puts her mind to, and the world will be better for it!

Thanks for trusting me with your senior photos, McKayla, and here’s to the bright future ahead of you!
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And thanks to Allie Roberge of Tagli Salon for the lovely job with McKayla’s hair and makeup!

Shelby, class of 2016

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Warning: this is a really long post. Spoiler alert: If you don’t like cats, don’t bother reading.

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Shelby is a senior at Leavitt Area High School. After the pre-session consultation with her and her parents, I felt like I ‘got’ who she is and that I could create photos that suited her personality. Words that were used to describe her were ‘quiet, unique, low key, smart, caring’. Individuality was also mentioned a few times. And she loves her cats! I think I felt like I especially ‘got’ her because she reminded me of me at her age.

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During the consultation Shelby asked me if she could bring one of her cats to be in some photos. I’ve had girls bring their cats before, but always for inside photos. Shelby wanted photos outside with the cat. I said okay, but the cat had to be in a harness and leash because I would hate to have the cat get lost in the woods.
This, by the way, is one of her favorite photos. Mine, too.

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And she studies a lot, so we incorporated some books.

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Here are some more of my favorites, that I think really suit the vibe I got from her:

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We planned to do the cat photos last so Shelby wouldn’t get hair all over her clothes. The cat waited in the car and near the end mom brought it out. “Marble” was in a harness with a leash attached. I posed Shelby and as mom was bringing the cat to her, somehow the cat got out of her arms and took off into the woods, dragging the leash behind her. I live and work right in the middle of 70 acres of woods. We all took off after her, looking and calling and there was no trace. The woods are really thick, and soon it was starting to get dark. None of us were dressed for cat searching, and we were getting scratched and bloody from walking through thick and prickly brush. I brought out flashlights and we kept looking for quite awhile in the dark. But after no sign of her and no one in proper searching clothes or shoes, the search was called off for the night. We all felt awful. And we were all worried about Marble’s harness or leash getting stuck somewhere. I kept telling myself that she could squirm out of it if she really needed to. I kept thinking of her alone and scared (she was not an outdoor cat) and I didn’t sleep much that night. I put a radio out into the woods that night, playing loudly, to hopefully keep predators away.

The next morning my husband and I went out at dawn and started looking again. I started walking in a zig zag pattern through the woods in the area that she had run through the night before. I walked back and forth about 15 minutes and didn’t know where to look next. I was walking through some tall ferns and grass and all of a sudden I looked down and right in front of my feet I saw the blue leash stretched across my path. I held my breath and looked at the end of the leash. There was a cat! It was either sleeping or just trying to be invisible. I grabbed the leash and for a second or two I felt a thrill of victory and relief…until Marble immediately sprang to life and before I could grab her body she had flailed her way out of the harness and ran away. Well, at least we knew she was alive and she wasn’t stuck in the harness somewhere. I knew she wasn’t going to come to me so I just stood in the area she had run toward and hoped to spot her somewhere. We called Shelby’s moms and they were on their way. They thought Marble would come out of hiding once she heard their voices. No such luck. They searched most of the day and I procured a trap and contacted Maine Lost Cat Recovery (a volunteer organization) for some tips. Trapping seemed to be our best bet so Marble’s family bought 2 more traps that afternoon; we had 3 traps set up in various spots around where she was last seen. They were loaded with tuna and sardines and had worn articles of Shelby’s clothing in them. The MLCR folks told me that the traps should be checked EVERY HOUR. Yes, all night long. The family stayed and looked until about 9pm. Just after dark they caught a glimpse of her glowing eyes in the woods, then she ran off. They didn’t expect me to check the traps all night, but I set the alarm for every hour and my husband and I took turns going out to check. The traps were quite spread out, and quite far from the house, so it was a trek into the woods each time. There was no success night one.

The next day was Saturday and the family came back to look all day. I kept all my photo sessions away from the woods so we wouldn’t scare the cat. Jenna from Maine Lost Cat Recovery was nice enough to come (with a 4th trap) and give advice on trap placement and other tips. That night I went out at midnight and saw Marble walking around near my husband’s barn. When I shined the flashlight at her she looked for a second and then disappeared. I was optimistic that she was getting hungry and we’d find her in a trap soon. At 2am the traps were still empty but I saw her eyes, crouched in the woods on the opposite side of the barn. At least she was staying close. We decided that by checking the traps every hour, we weren’t giving her enough time to wander around in between, so we decided the next night we’d switch to every 2 hours.

The next day Shelby’s moms came back to search during the day and until dark. Jenna had told us that Marble was most likely hiding and sleeping during the day, but I do believe Marble stayed close because she could hear and smell her family in the woods each day, even if she was too scared to come to them. My husband left for several days so I was on my own for trap-checking. Sunday night there was no Marble sighting. It was the first night we hadn’t seen her at all and it made me really worried. As usual, no sign during the day on Monday. My nightly routine each night was to check the 4 traps and then check the barn. I had been leaving the small barn door open, hoping if she was too smart to go into a trap at least the relative warmth of the barn might attract her. 10pm, nothing. Midnight, nothing. I was getting really discouraged. This was the 2nd night in a row with no sightings. I feared the worst. 2am, I checked the traps and figured I might as well check the barn again. I shined my light into the barn and saw a flash of movement at the far end. I shut myself in really fast and turned on the light. All was quiet. My husband has 2 years of wood on pallets stacked along inside walls of the barn. I started crouching down and shining the light under the pallets. Nothing…nothing…nothing…CAT!!!! There she was, crouched under the back end of a pallet. I could hardly believe my eyes.

To make an already long story a little shorter, I couldn’t reach her and I didn’t want to let her out of my sight so I stayed out there from 2am till daylight. When Shelby’s mom came that morning, after much difficulty we managed to get her to a spot where we could get our hands on her. She must have been tired and weaker at that point because she hardly put up a struggle once I got my hands on her. I don’t know which one of us was more tired, Marble or me. I know her family REALLY appreciated all I did to get their cat back, but I really did it for Marble.

So that’s why this session is one I will never forget. A week later I went to their house to do photos of Shelby with her cats INSIDE.

Note: I will only photograph cats indoors from now on. 🙂 

This is Marble. Mission accomplished.
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Stephanie and Matt engagement session

Stephanie and Matt are one of those brave couples who choose to have their wedding in the middle of winter.
So they chose the middle of winter for their engagement session, too. They’ll be getting married in February of 2016, in Vermont.  They had their engagement session on a very cold day at the end of February here at the studio.
2015-03-31_0001We started with a few photos indoors, then braved the cold outside.
maine winter engagement_00032015-03-31_0002Stephanie is from Maine and Matt is from Ohio, and they met while in college in Vermont. (I did Stephanie’s high school senior portraits almost 8 years ago!) They first met in a Linear Algebra course at the University of Vermont,
but they didn’t start dating till two years later.
maine winter engagement_0007 maine winter engagement_0006 maine winter engagement_0005maine winter engagement_0008Their wedding will be at The Ponds at Bolton Valley. They chose that venue because it had a wintery feeling…a cabin atmosphere and it’s located right on the side of a mountain. It also has a giant stone fireplace.
Stephanie and Matt enjoy spending time outside and being active in the winter.
maine winter engagement_0004 maine winter engagement_0009The proposal: While Stephanie was upstairs getting ready for work (she’s a teacher), Matt put the ring in her Christmas stocking. She came downstairs, had breakfast and got ready to leave without noticing the box in her stocking. So Matt had to tell her to check her stocking…she pulled out the box and he popped the question! Matt wanted to have a different type of proposal by doing it in the morning. They celebrated for a few minutes before Stephanie had to leave for work. So she spent the day celebrating with her first graders and returned home to celebrate with Matt that night!
maine winter engagement_0010The thing Stephanie and Matt are most looking forward to about their wedding is having all their friends and family in one place. Their families have never been all together since they are spread out over the country. They are also looking forward to having lots of snow on their wedding day…but not so much that weekend that it affects people’s traveling. We had plenty of snow for their engagement photos! One wrong step and we would end up in snow up to our thighs!
maine winter engagement_0011 maine winter engagement_0012 maine winter engagement_0013Stephanie and Matt wanted to have a wintery, fun and playful engagement session. They are naturally a fun and playful couple, and it was definitely wintery, so those objectives were pretty easy. We ended the afternoon with a snowball fight. You don’t want to mess with Stephanie in a snowball fight. Even in a dress she shows no mercy!
maine winter engagement_0014So next February I’ll be making the trek to Vermont for their wedding. I know it’s going to be beautiful and fun.
Though I’m probably hoping for less snow than they are.

Congratulations, Stephanie and Matt!

Tristen and Nick, Maine engagement session

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Tristen and Nick came for engagement photos last Fall. They brought their doggies and we had a great time.
They will be tying the knot in September of this year, and they wanted their engagement photos to be done at the same time of year that their wedding would take place, with lots of foliage.
2015-02-23_0001Tristen and Nick met through a mutual friend and started communicating through texting. Tristen was away at college and they had their first date when she came home for Thanksgiving in 2009.
2015-02-23_0002How did Nick propose? Fast forward to June of 2014…Nick is on a racing team and he and Tristen were headed to New Hampshire for the weekend. Tristen had just taken and passed her nursing boards two days before that, so that turned out to be a great start to the weekend. After checking in to their hotel on Friday afternoon, they ended up at Hampton Beach at Nick’s suggestion. After walking on the beach for what felt like hours, Tristen mentioned many times that she was hungry but Nick kept wanting to walk up and down the beach. They stopped a few times to take a selfie. After selfie #4 he stated that he wanted to find someone to take a picture of them because the selfies weren’t coming out very well. So they walked and walked some more. Finally he walked over to someone sitting in the sand and asked them to take their picture. Little did Tristen know that he had told the person, “I’m going to propose and I want it on camera”. Next Nick got down on one knee and said “I brought you here to ask you to be my wife, will you marry me?” Nice job, Nick!
2015-02-23_0012Tristen and Nick’s dogs are great furkids and were so cute and well behaved for their time in front of the camera.
2015-02-23_0005Bristal is the black dog (a girl) and Benson is the little boy. I’m glad they were included; I think dogs are an important part of the family and Tristen and Nick feel the same way.
lastingimage_engagement_dogs2015-02-23_0008One of Tristen’s friends made this cool painted barnboard sign.
2015-02-23_0007The wedding this Fall will be in the Bethel area and it should be peak foliage season, which they are very excited about.
The ceremony will be at the covered bridge in Newry and the reception will be at the Jordan Grand Hotel at Sunday River.
Both are beautiful locations. The bridge is very rustic, it was built in 1872. The front of the reception area is all windows so everyone will be able to enjoy the foliage on the mountain during the reception. Sunday River’s wedding coordinator, Emily Bourassa, is helping them pull together all the details.
2015-02-23_0010 Tristen’s advice for other couples planning their engagement session is to just have fun with it. She and Nick both felt like they were not photogenic people, nor do they like having their pictures taken, but she said they had a blast. She said, “Jill had us laughing and smiling and brought out the best in both of us.” Awww, shucks…thanks!
2015-02-23_00112015-02-23_00092015-02-23_0013ohCongratulations, Tristen and Nick! I’m looking forward to capturing your beautiful wedding day in September!

Tanya, class of 2015

I am so lucky to get to meet the most bright and beautiful young women each year, and Tanya was no exception.
Describing herself in 3 words as outgoing, caring and smart — which are pretty awesome things to be,
I would add gorgeous to that description.
A senior at Lewiston High School,  Tanya is on the girls’ basketball team and is involved with the travel club. I’d say in these photos she looks like she’s ready to travel somewhere glamorous and exciting.
2015-02-08_0001Tanya’s hair and makeup were done here at the studio by Allie Roberge of Tagli Salon in Lewiston.
Tanya’s little black dress made the transition perfectly from inside the studio to country road…
2015-02-08_0009…to basketball hoop.
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Tanya says that she wanted her senior photos to be professional, and she wanted to find the things about herself that she loved and express them more through the photos.
2015-02-08_0004 2015-02-08_0005Tanya’s advice to other seniors who are getting ready for senior photos is to have fun during the process.
“Enjoy the time of you being the star and put your personality into the poses.”2015-02-08_0006Tanya brought 5 outfits to her session and if she could change anything she would have brought five outfits that didn’t have anything to do with each other. (Some of her outfits shared a shirt so were not completely different. She did accessorize it differently so it didn’t look the same).
2015-02-08_0007Tanya’s biggest worry about the photos was that she was going to hate them. (I think that’s a fear a lot of people have!) But once she saw them, she loved them. She says she looks at them all the time. She and her family were very pleased with them, to the point they had a very hard time choosing their favorites to order. She said her session experience was great. She loved riding around on the golf cart to the different areas and props and she loved getting her hair and makeup done.
2015-02-08_0008Tanya graduates in June and her future plans include going to school to become a Radiology Technician.
Best of luck with your plans and dreams, Tanya!