Chicagoland Photographer | Anna's fantasy inspired Senior Session


Towards the end of last summer I got probably the most curious inquiry for a potential Senior Session that I had ever gotten. I was so excited about it that I remember reading it out loud to my husband and later my photographer friend Jamie. My wheels were turning, already envisioning the possibilities. I felt inspired...

Anna explained to me in great detail everything she dreamed up about her Senior Session. The way she wrote made me smile and I could tell she has an amazing personality. She had a clear vision for her Senior Experience and the chapters she wanted to showcase. Anna was ready for her real life adventure!

I felt like I already knew her before we met. She loves things like art, books, fantasy, classic horror and swords, archery and knives. Anna wanted to make or alter some clothing to fit her imagination and style.


... this photo shoot was something special.  It was the opportunity for me to finally wear the style of clothing that I’ve always craved and known was mine.  I think the best way to describe it is modern fantasy.  It’s the kind of thing that I would wear all the time if I could!

So I knew what I wanted, but there was just a minor problem. These kind of clothes don’t exactly exist. You can find it, but it’s always ridiculously expensive! So I did what anyone would do in a clothing crisis (or maybe it’s just me) and headed to Goodwill! With limited time, some bits and pieces of things I’d created in the past, and my haul of...interesting...and ill fitting clothes from Goodwill, I set to work making my outfits. My dream for a career is to go into prop making, and this was a chance to get out of my comfort zone and try my hand at costuming! They may not have turned out professional by any degree, but they were mine and all I needed!
— Anna B.

...I have an extroverted mind and an introverted heart, so I guess I'm a pretty typical teenage girl all around!

We knew we wanted to go to Gary, especially the old City Methodist Church. It was the kind of fantasy backdrop that brought us to another world and it's my favorite location to play around anyway.

Anna and her mom were super excited about the whole experience and as a photographer and fellow mental time traveler I was all in!

Anna's wardrobe was impressive, full of hard work and imagination that comes from reading books from a young age and the willingness to explore different interests. She told me since she could remember, she loved fantasy and medieval times. I think being mostly homeschooled really encourages creativity.

I love how much thought went into the planning of her epic senior photo shoot! I am adding a lot of what she wrote as quotes because I couldn't write it better and this blog post is all about her!

My mind has been stuck in that world for years, and I can’t see it leaving anytime soon! The draw of it has always been an escape into a new world full of otherworldly adventures, strength, and the rousing power of pushing through the darkness with friends by your side. I think it all originated from the times where some of my best memories come from. When my brother and I were much younger, I remember curling up and listening to our mom read us works of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Lloyd Alexander. Those stories resonated and stuck with me like hobbits to second breakfast, and I haven’t stopped reading since.
— Anna B.
My favorite outfit consisted of a chainmaille shirt I had made a couple of years ago ring by excruciating ring, a cloak made for the occasion literally from sheets and book bag straps, jeans and boots from Goodwill, and a sword I’ve had lying around for years. The whole thing completely captured an enormous part of my personality. Shooting that outfit in the abandoned church in Gary is a memory that will stay sharp and bright for the rest of my life! Another fun outfit we shot there came from my long held desire to have a trench coat. It started off as an ugly tan XXL men’s trench coat, and I somehow managed to get it fitting snugly and in a better color. I painted up a nerf gun to achieve more of a steampunk look, added some bits and bobs, and an outfit portraying a more adventurous side of me was complete! We also used one of my favorite normal outfits and a prom dress in some amazing places around the church, and every second of it was an absolute blast.
— Anna B.
When we stepped into a more urban setting filled with incredible artwork and graffiti, my crazy outfit ideas even worked there! I have a strange fascination with hats, even though I only own one and rarely wear it. But I was able to use it as well as some other favorite clothing items, and the surroundings turned everything into what I think was more of a dystopian feel. Which is yet another genre that I’m in love with! Carmen’s knowledge of the area that led us to this gem of a place was absolutely incredible! It’s one of those places that you’d never know was there.
— Anna B.

"For the final location, we headed to the woods, the kind of place that holds a thousand memories for me!  I wore a dress I had made earlier that year from combining multiple dresses, as well as some more casual outfits.  My favorite part was when we scattered some of my best old books around me and I sat happily in the dirt reading them.  It’s something I would absolutely do on a normal everyday basis!" - Anna B.

The light was incredible once we headed into the wooden land ... Anna looked so strong and beautiful in her gown with the light outlining her silhouette and giving her a glow. She told me she never dresses up in real life and almost never wears make-up or does her hair. That was probably the part she was most nervous about. Her hair and make-up enhanced her natural beauty and obviously not much was needed. She radiates beauty from within and her personality is infectious.







Another little thing that made the entire experience even more special was that I tried to incorporate little tokens that all meant something to me.  One of the swords is a replica of Sting from the Hobbit, two of the necklaces I wore were gifts from incredible friends, the hat is one of two that my best friend and I bought on a trip to match each other, the prom dress has some amazing memories attached to it, and the book I was reading was Sherlock Holmes, yet another old favorite.

The only way I can explain the day is simply that it was downright incredible. Until this photo shoot, I never really liked any pictures that were taken of me. So this was such a confidence booster! Going into it, I was extraordinarily excited, but honestly absolutely terrified. I didn’t know if the things I’d made would look good, and of course I had no idea what I was doing! But Carmen did such a fantastic job that by the time we started to really get going after some initial shots, I was already having a blast. She constructed the perfect combination of letting me use my outfits and styles, building upon and using them with my personality, and employing her expertise and skill to find the perfect locations and poses to encompass all of it. I really can’t begin to explain how amazing it all was. Somehow, despite my typical awkwardness and self-doubt, Carmen was able to bring so much more out of me and really visibly display what was always on the inside.
— Anna B.

I always say this because I love all my Seniors so much but this photo shoot adventure was a favorite and I will never forget it.


Anna - I encourage you to wear all these clothes anytime you feel like it and to make more! Thank you for trusting me to do your pictures and taking me along for the ride. It was just as special for me to see this afternoon unfold and capture your personality. I never saw an awkward or insecure girl. I saw a girl full of imagination and confidence to live outside the box! Keep living there and your life will never be boring! And as we know not all those who wander are lost! ;-)

Best Wishes

Carmen | CHC-Photography, Inc.

May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.
— J.R.R. Tolkien