Featured Senior Portrait Session: Spencer Van Ettens’ Triathlete Queen.

“My daughter is for lack of a better word is a complete badass…..and I want an epic portrait session that shows her the queen that she truly is.”

Not every senior portrait inquiry starts out like that, but when it does, I know its going to be a stellar one! I set up an in person consultation with Ryleigh and her mother for the following week and we discussed all of her personal interests, achievements and sense of style. What I learned is that Ryleigh’s talent extended far beyond the field hockey field where she reigns queen, but is also expressed at the track where she does the 400 meter dash and long jump. When she’s off season from both of those sports, she kicks ass on the basketball court too!! Whew… I was exhausted just thinking about all that physical activity, and super psyched to get to work creating a portrait session that illustrated her bad assery, (as well as a touch of her inner goddess)

Ryleigh loves being outdoors, in particular she enjoys being around water. So we decided to start her session at a local waterfall. Of course in order to get there, we had to hike in. Along the path there were some sweet wild flowers that we stopped to photograph in front of that coordinated with her jumper. Sometimes its the simplest most random of locations that can really compliment someone.

Once we reached the waterfall area we had to do a quick wardrobe and hair change to evoke her inner goddess. When you’re a queen you must bring your personal assistants with you. Ryleigh brought along her hair and makeup artist Ms. Asia Wells who hiked into the forest with us with her supplies on hand ready for anything! This woman is phenomenal at what she does!

No waterfall creek session would be complete without getting right inside of the waterfall and thats exactly what we did. Fortunately for this session the weather wasn’t too cold, ( i believe around 50 degrees?) Getting IN the water, well that was a different story…that was super cold.

Once we were adequately drenched and freezing, it was time to warm up. Ryleigh quickly changed out of her gown got wrapped up in a warm sweat suit and we hiked back to the car and headed out to her high school to photograph her in her element. The Field Hockey Field.

Here are a few of my favorite images from that part of the session. Its amazing what happens when you transform ones wardrobe and location to see their inner bad ass come alive. Clearly this girl means business when she hits the field.

Next up we walked over to the nearby track where we created some amazing portraits of Ryleigh doing her thing. Though the sky was beginning to get dark and cloudy at that point, the track was on FIRE with her presence.

Her inner strength, resilience and love for track was really coming through with these images, but of course, there was more to showcase on the track than just her running skills.

Long jumping for the win! Replicating your long jump in an unraked sand pit during off season isn’t as easy as it looks, but we managed to get a few great shots in before the sun went down.

Once the sun went down, it was time to head indoors to the high school locker room where we had previously secured after school access. It was there that I set up a makeshift studio and we went for some more formal “nike ad” style portraits to show Ryleigh’s bad assesness.

By this time it was getting pretty late into the evening and we finished our time together with one last look. High key black and white on white, because HELL YES!!! Thats why…. Ryleigh is an absolute natural in front of the camera, even after 5hrs of shoot time, she was still radiant and glowing.

I packed up the makeshift studio, locked up the locker room, and said our goodbyes. I really enjoyed our time together. Working with multitalented teens and showcasing their inner strength in a multitude of ways is super rewarding. I love being able to show them how incredible they truly are.

As for Ryleigh, I have no doubt she will go onto accomplish incredible things in college where she’ll continue playing field hockey. Who knows, maybe one day i’ll be photographing her for a Nike Ad after all?!

Leave a Comment