The weather is changing (even here in hot Houston), and it’s about time to change over your wardrobe to the cozier pieces. Even though we don’t get the chilly temperatures that other parts of the country enjoy when the seasons change, there’s still enough cool days to don boots, scarves, and cardigans. Not only are they weather appropriate, they also photograph beautifully when you book a fall senior shoot with us. Although you might still be sweating just a little bit (ha!), those gorgeous shades of burgundy, brown, and taupe can lend your session an edge and polish that can’t be replicated during any other season. So, what staples do you really need this year, and where can you find the best deal? We have it all for you, right here:
The Ruana: This is a newer item that’s very popular on Instagram this year, and it’s actually very versatile. You could wear these little sweater/wraps layered over tees or tanks, when traveling (perfect for the cooler temperatures on airlines), or when lounging at home as a blanket. The best colors this season are taupe and camel, and we really love this affordable one from Target. It’s under $25, and it’s perfect if you want to try out the trend without investing in a very expensive wrap. If you’re ready to take the plunge, check out Nordstrom’s extensive selection, most around $80-$100 each.
The Mule: Think of the mule as the happy medium between an ankle boot and a flat. They have a substantial look, and they go with just about everything, from dresses to skinny jeans. For a senior shoot, we recommend going with a neutral color like tan or black, and pairing it with pretty, soft neutrals to draw attention to your face and hair. If you don’t have a pair yet, we recommend this pair from Steve Madden, which run true to size and come in several pretty hues. They also go perfectly with the ruana type wraps we mentioned above.
The felt hat: Whether you want a large, floppy brimmed statement hat, or a slimmer, easier fashion piece, the hat is really having a moment this season! You may have spotted pricy ones from Anthropologie and Free People on the latest Instagram Influencers, but if you’re saving for college or senior year, you may want a more affordable option. Hats are also one of those things that you may wear all the time or wear just once and never wear again, so it’s good to do a trial run before getting an investment piece. Believe it or not, Amazon is the best place to find a dupe for those really expensive wool hats, and most are under $20! Look for a structured fedora like this one, and choose an easy color that matches most of your wardrobe (brown, tan, black).
The leather or suede jacket: We know you probably have a denim jacket that you wear often, but this season’s best staple piece is a suede or leather jacket. For just about every event that you’d wear a denim jacket for, you can swap in this polished and pretty alternative. It goes perfectly over boho dresses, with high waisted “mom jeans”, and paired with structured skirts and graphic tees for a fun and unique look. Real leather can of course be quite expensive, but there are many vegan leather alternatives like this really cute jacket from ASOS (it’s under $65!).
When you have a slim fashion budget, but a lot of style aspirations, it can be hard to track down the items you need to fill your wardrobe, but it’s totally possible. We have been so surprised with the things we have found at retailers like Target, which could easily pass for a higher-priced item from Macy’s or Bloomingdales at a fraction of the price. Stay tuned to our blog for the best tips on finding deals as you build your session wardrobe!
School is back in session and the high schoolers are already gearing up for homecoming. I am seeing signs for mums for sale and hoco-proposal pics on Facebook and Insta, so you know it’s almost time!
In additional to the dress, the date, and the right dinner spot, high schoolers are searching for a cool place for their group photos. But I have a little secret….
Location is nice – but lighting is MORE important.
In real estate you often hear that “location, location, location” is top dog. For photography, it’s “lighting, lighting, lighting” that wins every time. I’ve seen so many group photos in a great “location”, but the lighting is terrible — someone is totally in the shadows while others are in such bright light that they are squinting.
So, here’s my tip: find a place your whole group can fit and that the sun is not right in the kids faces or leaving dappled light on clothes (dapples happen when the sun shines through the trees – like light polkadots). This time of year, the sun sets around 7:30 so make sure you allow enough time to get ready, drive to the location, coordinate with ALL your friends and their parents, and have at least 30 minutes for pics in decent light.
And, you don’t have to go far for a nice spot. Remember, the high schoolers are the focus of the photo – so a well-lit backyard will do just fine. Your local park? Perfect! It doesn’t have to be fancy.
But still, I know the kids want some fun spots – so here are my suggestions for places in Katy with good lighting – keep in mind you might have to look around these areas.
- Cane Island – I like the green house in the background – with the kids’ backs to the sunset. Lots of fun spots for selfies, too!
- Katy Historic Society: 5990 George Bush Drive – has the cute houses and the Katy mural (professional photographers need to pay a fee).
- Cinco Ranch Rock Waterfall off Cinco Ranch Blvd (next to the water park pool and tennis courts) – watch out for the resident alligator!
- Cinco Ranch South lake park (beach club) lots of green space, lakes, fountains (but watch for “dappled” light and super reflective water)
- Gazebo in Grand Lakes, Phase 4 – this is also a decent spot if it’s drizzling, because a big group can fit under the gazebo. But not raining hard, because you do have to park and walk to it. Located at Grand Trace Lane and Lake Bluff.
- If you are a member or call and ask permission, Meadowbrook Farms Golf Club off Fry.
Further into Houston:
- Hermann Park – there are so many beautiful spots. Centennial gardens is a popular one but most people go to the main lawn where it can be very bright. Head to the left when you enter and go to the Japanese pergola. Nice light there with open space. Go early and find your spot – parking is harder here.
- Garden/parks near science museum near – lots of little pocket parks around that area.
- Any cool city street – if your group is smaller, you can find some fun streets in The Heights or even in shopping areas that look like cities like La Centerra or City Centre and have a very cool little photoshoot.
Rain is a possibility, of course, and since you can’t reschedule the day, here are my rainy day backup locations.
Rainy day backups:
- In a parking garage – the light is usually GREAT here. I shoot in these all the time even when it isn’t raining. Watch for cars!
- Your favorite hang out place! I’ve seen photos at places like Bucees or Target! This isn’t a stuffy photo session – have fun! Just be mindful of the other customers.
- Under any large overhang or car drop off area (think a hotel, museum, event venue or shopping area)
- Light drizzle? Get some cute umbrellas from Target! (see below!)
- Inside Gallery furniture (you MUST call ahead).
My overall advice is find the most convenient place for your group and the parents and go check it out a few days before. Watch for soggy grass (high heels sink!) and look for nice areas of shade. If you are planning to take photos on private property, make sure you get permission first!
But most importantly, HAVE FUN and enjoy the moment!
It’s probably hard to believe, but senior year is finally here! It might feel like a blur of excitement and nerves, but I couldn’t be more thrilled for you to be embarking on this incredible journey. Although you spent many months anticipating this year (maybe you even dreamed about it when you set foot on campus as a freshman!), it can pass by in what feels like a blink of an eye. Here are our best tips for making the most of your senior year, and how to soak up every amazing moment:
Enjoy your senior year!
-Get organized: Although school is already in session here in Texas, you still have time to get things in order for a streamlined and simplified year. We recommend starting with a color-coded calendar, either in your phone or on paper or a whiteboard. If you need to coordinate schedules with your siblings or parents, a family whiteboard might work well so everyone can see deadlines, trips, or days off. If you are only keeping track of your personal calendar, try color-coding each subject or area of your life (such as: work, scholarships, college applications, senior project, and so forth). You can find great items for organization at discount stores like Home Goods and TJ Maxx if you need planners, notebooks, or mail holders.
-Input your major deadlines to your calendar ahead of time: Most schools release a master schedule of important dates for senior students, with the dates for graduation, yearbook deadlines, and college application timelines. These are your most crucial dates, and the ones you definitely do not want to miss. Another important one is your senior photography shoot, if you’ve not already completed it. We strongly recommend booking very early, since our dates fill up quickly, and you want the optimal days available so you can focus on your college visits and your scholarship deadlines as the months progress.
-Find a mentor: Having someone to go to with questions, concerns, or when you’re having a hard day, is really crucial to senior year. Your mentor could be your parents or guardian, a school counselor, or someone you may know from church or other social places in your life. Be sure to ask them if they’d be willing to be a sounding board and support system for you, and consider asking an older college student who may be attending the school you’re interested in. They may have insight that will be helpful to you (as always, practice safety when meeting with an adult mentor, and make sure to get your parent’s approval if it’s someone they don’t know). You could ask them to help you as you navigate college choices, stressful situations with friends or assignments, and simply to lend a hand when needed.
-Make time for fun: It will seem as if you don’t have a spare second during your busy weeks, but it’s also important to make a little time for relaxing. If you are heading to college in a town or state that’s far from home, you will want to savor the memories and special times with your family and friends before you leave. Set aside time each week (even if it’s just an hour or two) to disconnect from your cell phone and truly engage with your parents, siblings, or friends to do something special like a pedicure, brunch with girlfriends, or even shopping for things you might need for college. Most importantly, remember that these times with your loved ones aren’t just for you…they create memories for those special people in your life who have invested in you.
-Practice life skills: This is one of the most important things you can do during senior year! If you are setting out to “leave the nest”, now is the time to prepare for some of those adults tasks that might seem boring, but are going to benefit you when you move into your dorm or apartment. Some of these things are: learning to do your taxes, balancing a checkbook, learning to cook basic recipes like soup/sandwiches/pasta, ironing, laundry, and car maintenance. It can be humbling, but ask your parents to help you get a handle on these skills, and you will feel so much more confident when you have to do them alone later on!
By implementing these simple steps, you can continue on in your senior year with confidence. Stay tuned to our blog for more tips, advice, and encouragement for your journey!
When I think of Sophia, I think of dedication. This young lady has been attending rigorous dance classes since she was just three years old, and she’s been incredibly committed ever since. She began Irish dance classes when she was six, and has flourished in this style! Sophia and her very wonderful mom drive nearly thirty miles (one way) and back, in order for her and her sister to attend their Irish dance classes at The Cass-Barrington Irish Dance Academy. They are a well-known and respected dance academy in Houston, and Sophia has found her true passion through their program. Although she’s still quite young, she has an impressive dance resume already; having been chosen to perform in the Riverdance Academy in Dublin, as well as finishing in 22nd place at the North American Irish Dance Championships in Vancouver…such a high honor for this young lady.
Although her dance prowess is incredible and amazing, it’s not her only passion She has finished a six year commitment to the National Charity League (Azalea chapter), which is a mother-daughter program that requires hefty philanthropic and league volunteer hours. It speaks volumes about the kind of young lady that she is. After graduation, she plans to become a physical therapist and a dance teacher, and will be attending Oklahoma University.
Her dream session was to incorporate dance into real life settings – which is exactly what we did! We had a few stops in Houston and it was a HOT day (literally 95 at 5pm!), but you wouldn’t know, because Sophia’s hair and makeup was done by Andrea with Faceforward and we took lots of air-conditioned breaks! All seniors have professional hair and makeup included with their senior session.
Sophia and her mom were a joy to work with, and I can’t wait to see where her dancing feet take her next!
Did you know that the name “Sanders” means “defender of men”? It’s perfect and fitting for this amazing graduate! He is strong, kind, and protective, and I was so pleased to do his senior shoot recently as he celebrated his graduation. As part of the Class of 2019 from Cinco Ranch High School, he has really left his mark. He is both a varsity football and track star, so it was fitting to get to photograph him in a place that felt like home to him: Legacy Stadium! Those of you who are local to our area know that this stunning stadium is Katy, Texas’ newest stadium and the largest in the state. It can hold an impressive 12,000 people, but this young man could have filled the whole thing with his personality alone! I loved working with him.
Sanders wanted to bring along his uniforms (to commemorate his athletic achievements), but also wanted to include some casual outfits, too. His grandmother accompanied him to his session, and she was an absolute delight, and even managed to elicit some happy smiles from him. Sanders was so polite and sweet, and I know he will be incredible as he heads off to SFA to play football this fall (I have no doubt I’ll see his name on the sports page in the days to come!). When his session was complete, his proud mom chose our very popular Senior Signature Book to show off these legacy portraits. Don’t forget that we are always happy to answer questions about our prints, products and albums!
Maureen O’Shay is an elite senior photographer serving Katy, Texas and surrounding areas with her unique and stylized senior portraits.