Chicagoland Photographer | Emily's whimsical Senior Session

I am so excited to share Emily's Senior Session. I have been photographing the Harvey's for a few years and Brenda always comes up with amazing ideas for her family sessions. When Brenda told me all the ideas her daughter Emily had for her Senior Portraits, I knew we would have so much fun. Photographing at my favorite location, the Gary Methodist Church, is a real adventure. I had the hardest time selected favorites because in the end there was still almost 400 pictures left. Emily was so kind to narrate her session...enjoy!

It all started when I saw my sister’s senior pictures. Carmen took them, and they were spectacular. Carmen perfectly captured every facet of my sister’s personality, from her fierce competitiveness to her feminine beauty. Immediately, I began planning my own photo shoot. I was two years younger than my sister, so I had plenty of time.
I have played the violin since I was in second grade, so I knew for sure that I wanted some shots of me playing the violin in an abandoned church I knew was nearby. (I got the chance to actually visit this church when I served in Gary on a mission team from my church). This part of the photo shoot was inspired by my idol, the violinist Lindsey Stirling. She makes music videos that are like mini movies starring her and her instrument in a barren landscape or post-apocalyptic ruin. I wanted the church shots to carry that same mood, and I chose my clothes accordingly. Originally, I had a long ivory strapless dress for that location, but the day before, my mom was convinced we could find a better dress. After spending several hours at the mall, we finally found a dress on clearance at Charlotte Russe. It was white lace, and off-the-shoulder. I liked the innocence it gave me in contrast to my dreary surroundings. The violin I’m playing is a family heirloom from my great-great grandmother that we recently had restored. It’s special to me because my grandfather gave it to me shortly before he passed away.
For my second location, I wanted “big trees” with a “Lord of the Rings” feel. My mom found the perfect location in Marquette Park. I had a vision of myself lounging comfortably in an ornate armchair (which my mom has a habit of collecting and reupholstering) and reading a book. First, we took some traditional senior pictures in a bright red dress (my school colors) in a field of flowers across from the woods.
After that, it was on to the fun with photos to highlight my love of reading. I chose one of my favorite school outfits complete with my red Converse tennis shoes. For props, I collected a bunch of hardcover books from my collection (which is pretty extensive) and took off the jackets. We piled them in and around an old trunk, another family heirloom, used when my great-great-grandparents came to America from Germany. Carmen had some great pose ideas, and helped me fill out this concept.
The final outfit was definitely the one we had the most fun with! We found this beautiful pale pink Jessica McClintock tulle dress for $8 at a resale store. It fit me like a glove. My mom and I made a flower crown, because Carmen made one for my sister’s photo shoot and it turned out really pretty. We found a pair of angel wings in my old dress-up box, and tied some pink ribbon to my Harry Potter wand (shoutout to Universal Studios!) I also brought along my pet rabbit, Dottie. Carmen was as taken with the dress as I was, and we spent nearly half of our time photographing it! For the “woodland fairy” pictures (as we nicknamed them), Carmen loved the idea of spreading the dress out over the flowers around me. For those shots, I’m actually standing on a crate full of books, because otherwise I got lost in the tall grass! After we finished with pictures in the woods/meadow, Carmen and I wandered around the park looking for a different spot to take pictures. All of a sudden, we noticed three deer on a nearby hill! We freaked out. Carmen was ready with her camera and I quickly shoved my way through the grass in front of them, and posed as fast as I could, careful not to scare them away. After a couple of photos, the doe and two fawns dashed off, and we continued on with our photo shoot.

I could swear he is smiling for the camera!

Next, we made our way to nearby Lake Michigan and found an old stone wall near the beach. I posed for a couple of pictures there (we joked that it looked like part of my princess castle) and on the beach before Carmen asked if we could get the dress wet. Since it was an $8 thrift store dress, of course I agreed. We took a lot of beautiful shots of me wading into the water. Carmen worked her magic, because in the photos the water looks like the ocean rather than Lake Michigan. After I dragged myself out of the water (boy, is that dress heavy when it’s wet), we took some final pictures under a tree with all of my favorite things spread out around me.
Carmen did a great job with my senior pictures! She really brought my ideas to life, and we had a great time. I really appreciate that she so willingly accepted my ideas for my dream photo shoot and then used her creativity to take it to the next level. It was beyond anything I could have imagined. I love how she perfectly captured every part of my personality. She was a joy to work with and I would highly recommend her for any photos you need. This was definitely a highlight of my senior year. Thanks, Carmen, for helping me make my dreams come true!
— Emily Harvey