As a young girl, I lived for dress up. Let’s face it, I still do. I yearn for times and places where I can actually wear a tutu and a tiara. And it’s that part of my fantasy world and love for fashion that helps me to create this experience for senior girls with whom I am a kindred spirit because they love the same things I do. Most teenage girls these days who love clothes and shopping and fashion secretly wish they could be a model in Paris or New York. Some of them try, and some go on to have success, but the normal high school senior girl I encounter just wants to feel and look like a model, whether she will actually admit it or not. When those special girls hit our doors, I conduct my senior interview with her. After I discover that she’s a candidate for this type of session, the wonderful madness begins and we head into my most favorite warm and fuzzy place: ROCKSTAR MODE.
After all the planning is done for the specifics of when and where we will be shooting, we begin by booking stylists for the day. Most often, we’ll set her up with VEDA Salon & Spa (part of the parent company, Aveda), with whom we’ve developed a valuable business-to-business relationship. Our client walks in and the star treatment begins with the hair and make-up services to get her all glammed up. The stylists will travel with her to remain on set with her throughout the shoot. They’ll change up hair and makeup styles to complement the different wardrobe changes and locations. The goal is to give as many different looks as we can during the shoot so that the product of her senior portrait session is not just a bunch of different images in different outfits, but more resembles a model’s portfolio.
Especially for these sessions, we have a couple of studio assistants on hand during the shoot to move equipment and assist with whatever is needed. These types of high-fashion senior sessions require us to work in the studio and on location with multiple strobes, modifiers, scrims and battery packs, so the extra bodies we have on hand add to that “rockstar” experience when there are several people there specifically FOR that girl – bringing her water, moving equipment around her, adjusting clothing and hair and makeup – all to let her know that this one moment in time is all just for her and no one else. This also helps tremendously, as the parents look on to see it all and are comfortable with the investment they are making with us when they see that their daughter is being treated like a celebrity for what some would call “just senior pictures.” When is she ever going to have another time when life stops and revolves around just her? Not even her wedding. Even if she does become a working model, her goal is to please her client. It is so important to me that she leaves this experience totally in awe of the pampering she received.
Music is a huge part of my creativity, so it’s important to me to incorporate it into these senior portrait sessions. Whenever possible, I try to have a playlist ready for the session, based on information I gain from my senior interview. I try, without her knowing what I’m planning, to find out what her favorite music is and get a playlist together so that she’ll be comfortable with music she loves to bring out her own inner confidence and creativity to enhance the time we’ll spend together. (all our music is officially licensed by ASCAP with a New Media License).
Another way I feel I’m able to make these “rockstar” senior portrait sessions successful is that I am able to help guide the client in their posing. Having a background in modeling, as well as prior work experience with a bridal magazine and advertising agency, I’m able to pull beyond traditional portraiture posing to help bring out that inner high-fashion vibe that works in editorial advertising. And we take that and translate it into a unique senior portrait experience. Also fun for the senior is the reaction we get when we’re at a park or shooting in a downtown area – anywhere there is a crowd. The senior is sure to get attention with people asking if she’s someone famous or if we’re shooting for a magazine.
These types of sessions are among my favorite, not just for how much fun they are to me, personally. But, after this type of session, it is only good for our marketing after people seeing us around town and having the opportunity to pass out business cards – you can’t buy that type of advertising. The buzz that is created from the senior going and talking about it, tweeting about it, etc – it’s priceless AND contagious. We always get great referrals from these that keep our business thriving, because what beautiful, fashion-loving teenage girl doesn’t want to be a rockstar?
© Teresa Lee
Teresa began her career in front of the camera as a child model and pageant contestant. After years of being active in the industry, and with many titles, she continued on as a pageant coach. During her years in front of the camera, she became more fascinated by what happened behind the camera and eventually eased into directing and the photography industry.
After graduating with a degree in marketing from Ouachita Baptist University, Teresa's career progressed with various marketing/advertising companies. She handled national marketing campaigns and was responsible for working with modeling agencies in selecting talent for television commercials, which she directed and produced.
In 2001, Teresa launched her own photography studio, Teresa Lee Photography. Her work has an element of high-fashion photography while adding an edgy and fun perspective. Teresa's talent lies in capturing personalities and special moments through a series images with emphasis on family, senior and wedding portraiture.
Since 2003, Teresa has been honored with dozens of awards and has been recognized in international photography competitions.