Emma, class of 2016 Edward Little High School

Last summer I asked for nominations for inspiring seniors…seniors who had overcome challenges and/or were making the community a better place.

I had only planned on having one winner, but among many entries two especially stood out, and Emma was one of them.
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Emma’s makeup and hair was done here at the studio by the talented Allie Roberge of Tagli Salon.
Emma has a whole lot of gorgeous hair!
Emma was nominated by her mom, Tara. This is Emma’s story, as told by her mom.
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“I would like to nominate my daughter, Emma.  Emma has an exceptionally giving spirit in the areas of life where it counts. She started going on mission related travel with me when she was 9-years-old. At that young of an age, she would work with children who were in need of assistance – often befriending them and allowing the team that traveled with her to gain even greater access to them. At age 10, she offered to give up her space and life as she knew it to bring a child home. Emma was already the oldest child of three, and she was aware that adding another child might mean sacrifice on behalf of herself and her siblings.
She made a space in her room, donated away half of her belongings, and worked with social workers to assist with
home studies for an adoption. At the age of 12, Emma traveled with me and her father to Ethiopia to bring home
her new little sister who would live in her space.
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“As soon as Emma was able to work at age 14, she began a job filing papers. Her work life evolved from that age. As she heads into her senior year, after keeping a straight A average, Emma balances four jobs. She works at an upscale restaurant running food and has been entrusted to hostess, she lifeguards, and she works for the federal government under-cover in the purchase of tobacco. She purchased her own car, and incorporated her own business driving children to sporting and summer events and  practices at the request of their parents.
With her earnings, she contributes to the physical needs and desires of her siblings, and provides much for herself.
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“These skills are often overlooked in today’s world, where exceptional children are rarely given exceptional opportunity. Emma’s accomplishments are quiet, but sacrificial, and require a great deal of character. She is always a winner in the eyes of her mom.”
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Emma’s story really blew me away. She is such a DO-er. A doer, a worker, a giver…if only the world had more Emmas.
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She doesn’t wait around for things to happen or think the world owes her anything,
she takes initiative and works hard for what’s important to her.
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Emma is truly a beauty inside and out. Her smile and attitude can light up a room.
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I can’t wait to see where Emma’s life takes her.
Her giving spirit combined with her strong work ethic will no doubt make the world a better place.

Thanks to Emma’s mom for sharing her story during my Inspiring Seniors contest and thanks to Emma for being Emma!

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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Samantha, Oxford Hills Class of 2016

high school senior glamourSamantha is one of a string of beautiful and vibrant young women I’ve had the pleasure of photographing this summer. The camera loves her.
And THOSE EYES. Wow. I did nothing in Photoshop to enhance them, they really are all blue and soulful and expressive like that.
Maine senior beautySamantha considers herself outdoorsy and athletic. She enjoys camping and loves playing soccer. She’s truly a natural beauty.
Maine senior photosAnd I haven’t even mentioned that hair. How did one person get all that thick, beautiful hair?  It’s not quite fair, is it.
Maine country seniorHer mom says she loves Samantha’s enthusiasm…she puts her all into everything she does.  Oxford_Hills_senior_photographer_001She wanted her senior photos to look natural and outdoorsy. Thanks to makeup artist Sara for Samantha’s gorgeous look that brings out her eyes while keeping that natural beauty at the forefront.
Ted Coastal Humane Society_0124Samantha says her favorite thing about herself is her work ethic. Oxford_Hills_senior_photographer_002 She plans to join a college ROTC program and major in nursing. I have no doubt she will succeed in whatever she puts her mind to.
I can tell that she’s just awesome that way.
senior photos sportsSamantha is a soccer goalie and like everything she does she puts 100% into it. And apparently looks very good while doing it. : )
Maine senior photographerThanks for the great photo session, Samantha, and enjoy your senior year!

Maddie, class of 2016

Maine senior beautyMaddie is a senior at Leavitt Area High School in Turner. She’s a beauty, that’s for sure.
Her hair and makeup for this session were done here at the studio
by Audrey Martin of Escada Hair Studio in Lewiston.
Central Maine senior photographerIt poured on her original session date and we rescheduled to what would turn out to be the hottest day of the summer so far. Wow, was it HOT. So we spent a little extra time shooting inside in the air conditioning before we braved the oven outside.
Maine senior photographerJust gorgeous…
Modern high school senior portraitsMaddie brought her boyfriend, Carlton, for some photos with her.
senior photos with boyfriendMaddie is active in cheering and softball, and she enjoys fishing and hanging out with her friends.
She likes going to the beach, in fact, she’s headed on a trip to the Dominican Republic in a few days.
Auburn Maine senior photosPartway through the session we headed for McLaughlin Garden in South Paris.
It’s always pretty there and there’s always something in bloom. It also felt a few degrees cooler there…though it was still well into the 90’s.
Maine senior portraits outdoorsMaddie has a friendly and warm personality and she’s very easy to talk to. During our pre-session consultation, Maddie’s mom told me she is very proud of how kind-hearted Maddie is.
Maddie was up for anything for her session, and her mom was  hoping for some gorgeous head shots and some scenic outdoor photos with flowers and greenery. I’d say the mission was accomplished.
Maine Outdoor senior photographerThese were just a few of the many beautiful photos we made that day.
Thanks for a great session, Maddie, you made my job easy!

Kristin and Chris, Maine winter engagement

I know there are some folks out there who are looking back on this winter fondly and really missing all that white stuff.
Not me, but it did make for some pretty, winter wonderland-ish photos. And here are some of them from an
engagement session that took place on a really cold, really windy day in March.

Meet Kristin and Chris.
maine winter engagement_0025Like many of my wedding couples in recent years, they met online. Kristin had done plenty of online dating and had given up before meeting Chris. She had previously lived in Saco for over 4 years, but she needed a change and wanted to be closer to some of her family in Bangor, so she moved north. And when she found herself living in Newport, Maine, with no friends and nothing to do, she figured she should try to find someone in that area to do things with, even if it led to nothing. She saw Chris’s profile online, but as luck would have it he lived in Sanford, Maine (the part of the state she had moved away from). But Chris’s family had a camp in Lincoln, so one day he made a pit stop on the way home from camp and met Kristin in Bangor. maine winter engagement_0024(Kristin and Chris brought these great letters with them — they got them at Michaels).
For their first date, they met at her cousins, went for a walk, went to Hollywood Slots, went out to dinner and went bowling. They didn’t want the night to end. Week after week, Chris worked the weekend shift in Sanford and when he got out of work late on Sunday night he would drive to Newport so they could spend a few days together.
One thing led to the next and Kristin moved back to Saco.
maine winter engagement_0026Chris proposed in November of 2014. They had tickets to Trans-Siberian Orchestra in Manchester, NH and stayed at a hotel across the street from the concert. After a great dinner nearby, they went back to the hotel before the show. Before Kristin even realized what was going on, Chris was down on one knee asking her to marry him. (Of course, she said yes!) And behind him was a bottle of champagne and chocolates. Later that evening they enjoyed the amazing show.
maine_engagement_photographer_0021    Kristin and Chris are getting married at The Maine Wedding Barn. They wanted a country feel and Kristin has always dreamed about getting married in a barn with hay bales. After a lengthy search they found The Maine Wedding Barn to be elegant, rustic and within their budget. And Barbara there has been very helpful, accommodating and pleasant to work with.

We did a few country/rustic themed photos in the studio before going out into the arctic cold.
maine_rustic_engagement_0022cowboy_boots_ engagement_0023(Can you see the heart in the sideways shot of the ring?)
maine winter engagement_0027maine winter engagement_0028The countdown to the big day is on and Kristin and Chris are getting very excited. They are most excited to share their love with all their family and friends. They are expecting between 150 – 200 people and they can’t wait to have a giant party and celebrate.
maine winter engagement_0029For their engagement photos, they wanted a look that reflected their personalities. They are very down to earth and love to kick back, and they love the country side of life where they can relax and enjoy life.
maine winter engagement_0030How did they feel about braving the sub-zero wind chill on the day of their engagement session?
“Chris and I loved it! It was totally cold and the wind was whipping, but we set all that aside!”
(And they did…I gave them the option of rescheduling to a warmer day, but they embraced the cold!)
maine winter engagement_0031Cold and all, we had a great time. Kristin and Chris are relaxed and fun to be around, and I know their
wedding in August is going to reflect their personalities and be a great time for all.

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


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.
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!