Baby. Toddler. Sweet little child. High School Senior: all key times for portraits. But what about that inbeTWEEN time? You know, the time when they are no longer small children, but they are not quite grown up. The time when they have that perfect mix of little girl and emerging young woman. The tween years.
This is such an important age to photograph. We always say, “They will never be this way again.” It’s too true. And they never will be this way again. They will grab a doll to play with and then minutes later, grab some lip gloss and curl their hair to hang out with a friend. They are becoming more self aware, both bad and good. They are discovering, more than ever, who they are, what they believe and what talents they possess. They are learning to navigate an increasingly complicated world and the innocence often associated with childhood is sadly fading.
For this very reason, I negotiated a photo shoot with my youngest daughter. My tween. Yes, I said negotiate. She is not a lover of the camera and has to be “in the mood”, which usually lasts about 10 minutes. If you know my daughter, you will not be surprised she negotiated a deal with me. First, she wanted a friend to be a part of the shoot. Done. Secondly, she wanted me to purchase a wall decal for her bedroom. Done. Not a bad deal. She also chose the location. Downtown Burlington. I knew she would want all the cliche spots, but I could handle that. I was more after capturing her. The location was secondary.
She recently turned 12. My baby! 12! She is growing up so fast, both in maturity and in actual height. She will be entering middle school and I know these next 7 years will feel like a blur at the end. Having had two graduate high school this year, I speak from experience. 🙂
So much emphasis is put on the beginning and end of things, but it’s what happens in the middle that often counts the most. So, yeah, right now she’s in the middle of childhood and adulthood. It’s a delicate time, like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. A butterfly’s wings are easily injured and damaged. How similar to this age, when words cut so deeply, confidence is stolen and self worth often tanks. I want to remember my emerging butterfly as she is right now. I want to remind her, and her friends. of how beautiful they are, not only outwardly but inwardly as well. I want to show them they are so valuable, so treasured and have so much to give right now.
I encourage you to photograph your tween, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. They will love planning their outfits, curling their hair and dabbing on a little make up. They see the high school senior portraits and this gives them a wonderful opportunity to feel grown up, just like the seniors. It’s also a fabulous opportunity to build them up. With each click of the shutter, I told my girls how gorgeous they were..how well they were doing. They need all the encouragement they can get in a world that sets unrealistic standards of beauty.
This shoot was not about me or my portfolio. It was about celebrating my daughter, celebrating friendship and celebrating the middle.
Going into 6th Grade!!!