Hi Beautiful!

Thanks for clicking by the Blog! I'm Andrea + the photographer behind Shining Moments Photography in Sycamore, Illinois. I have a guilty obsession with Starbucks + Instagram and specialize in Teens, High School Seniors and Branding Headshots.

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Category Archives: Senior Experience

An epic senior experience captures your best memories of high school. Get some ideas before you meet your senior photographer

Deciding on your college home is a big deal! You want it to be a good fit, to be fun, and to have the major or program you’ve had your heart set on. Tia is a senior who is deciding on her prospective college home, and we chatted about it a little bit during her senior shoot!  I know that any college will be so lucky to have such a bright, kind and fun young woman. Currently, she is looking at California Polytech, San Luis Obispo, and Univ. of San Diego after visiting Milwaukee School of Engineering, Notre Dame & Northwestern. Tia is a very smart little lady, and has been really successful in her academics. She dreams of one day becoming an architectural engineer, and I know she’ll be fantastic!

When we met up for her senior shoot, I had just stumbled on a beautiful, shimmering wheat field on my morning walk. I was visiting home out in Washington and the field had not been harvested yet. This was great timing, because she had mentioned wanting to include a wheat field and a stunning sunset which reminded her of home…it fit the bill! I had this in mind, and so we left our last planned location and were gleefully anticipating making it just in time for sunset…we did…and found nothing but wheat stubble! To our surprise, it had been harvested between sun up & sundown THAT day! It was a good laugh though + it made for a hilarious memory. Tia was a great sport, and we were able to capture a gorgeous sunset anyways! We also utilized an old railroad track, which had been closed for years, but had the perfect rustic feel. We photographed all the pieces of “home” on her session; the gorgeous Whitman College campus, Grandma’s house, and the sunset fields in our whirlwind evening.

Tia, you’re such a joy and I’m tickled that we were home at the same time this summer to capture your senior portraits. I am so excited for your new adventures, and all the excitement you have ahead of you.

CONTACT ME  today to get your own shoot scheduled!

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My heart is always a little bittersweet as I get ready to send off my 2017 seniors! Although it’s always a little hard to see these amazing young people become adults, my emotions are ALWAYS overwhelmed with excitement more than anything else! I bet it’s because I’m a mom myself that I always feel the little tug of these seniors leaving the nest, but I also can’t wait for this day for my own children. Senior year is so amazing and filled with many memories, and that’s what I wanted to talk about today.

All of your school moments that you’ve experienced – from bummer to breathtaking – have brought you to today, the last few weeks of summer. This is your year of lasts & it’s time to celebrate it! True, there is also a lot of planning to be done, college applications, {and I have a checklist to help with that}, take the ACT one more time…but TODAY, in this moment, there are 10 reasons I want you to fall in love with your senior year! You can make THIS year outshine the rest!

1. You’re finally at the top!

You’re finally a senior which is great! You have a lot going on, but remember those first years, and help out that lonely or confused freshmen -those at the top shine brightest when they lift others up

2. Your brain is not a day, week, month planner…It’s time to get organized and start making a list of what needs to be done

Whether it’s a paper list or app, NOW is time for Organization 101 – it relieves a lot of stress. I’m the queen of stress…and also the queen of lists. Don’t leave your high school walls still writing with a Sharpie on the back of your hand  #WHATthatpaperwasduetoday

3. Remember that every game, concert, play…is your last as part of the student body – don’t sit home all year – go out and enjoy a few of the LASTS! Yes, study hard, but also make time for a few fun events.

4. Get those senior pictures done. I know, shameless plug, right?

…but even if I’m not your senior photographer {I know, crazy talk}, GET SENIOR PORTRAITS! Seriously! It may be the last formal portraits you have taken until your WEDDING DAY

And for the guys, I know it may seem like the worst day ever to go get senior pictures, but it makes us Moms over the moon happy – if not for you, do it for Mom.

5. Careful what you post on your social media

I’m sure you’ve already heard this a 100x, but whenever you put something out in instagram, facebook, twitter and the next big social app – it becomes PUBLIC for anyone…including a future boss and college admissions boards. Keep things clean and mature.

6. Be real!

I am as guilty as the next person of being attached to my phone, but when you’re sitting in a group of friends – BE WITH YOUR FRIENDS – you may not see many of these people ever again once you toss your grad hat up in the air on graduation day.

7. Work hard + play hard

Yep, your grades, clubs, extra curriculars are all important, but equally important is having fun with your friends & family. Keep stress in check!

8. Don’t be afraid to say goodbye – When one door closes, another one opens is a phrase that rings true:

This is a year of LASTS, so yes, it’s a big year. But moving out into a new chapter is exciting too. No need to be scared of it, look at it as your next great adventure

9. If there have been things you’ve been scared to try – this is the year to try it! You’re still at home, You have your family near you if it fails…which brings me to my next point

10. This is the time to appreciate your family. It might seem like you just want to leave and move on to college, but don’t forget to love and appreciate the people who helped you on your life journey so far! Make time to take your siblings to ice cream, or to write your parents a note. It is a great skill to learn to appreciate people who have been there for you.

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As fashionable as she is smart. Bridget’s academic smarts + drive didn’t stop her from making the most of her senior year last year. She had her last homecoming fun, cheered friends on on their events, and was ready to move on to the next chapter

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Matthew is going to do just fine in his freshmen year… He loves Starbucks {caffeine} about as much as I do. Those late college study night’s should be no problem for him 🙂

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As Kelsie heads off to Georgia for her freshmen year there will be few obstacles that stand in her way. She traveled all over to find the exact college where she felt at “home”.

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Molly started her college path before she even tossed her grad cap into the air.  She knew what she wanted to major in right away, but if you don’t, there is plenty of time. Make that checklist and start there!

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As cute as she is smart. If you have your eye on the prize and you’re driven to reach it quickly, that’s awesome! But remember to have some fun along the way + make some great memories with your high school friends before you all head out to your next great adventure

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You have Some Senior Sparkle – Shine On & Shine Bright

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10 things to know before you start your college days::

You’re so close! I wanted to share ten things today, for my seniors who are leaving behind their high school days and for those who are just heading into their senior year. You know how the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20…wouldn’t it be nice to have that knowledge beforehand? I’ve been a senior photographer for quite some time now, and there’s lots of things I’d love to impart to each of my clients, no matter where they are in their journey. Here’s just ten…

  1. This is a new adventure +  some of the best times of your life. EMBRACE THEM
  2. Have fun, but don’t lose sight of your goals and what’s most important; staying true to yourself, your family, and what you came there to do …getting your degree
  3. Give everyone a chance and be kind to them, I dont care who they are. There is always room to be kind, and always time to open your heart. 
  4. If you are rushing, don’t worry about what sorority is top tier. Go with the house + the girls that make you feel comfortable, and where you can be yourself. Have fun!
  5. Do your laundry and clean out your mini fridge. You and your roommate will appreciate this one, seriously!
  6. GET INVOLVED with things that interest you, whether it’s running for a position in your sorority or fraternity, joining an a ‘capella group, a political group, an art club, intramural sport team… but do something. This is a great way to meet people who have similar interests and it teaches you how to manage your time, as well as being held responsible for something. #lifeskills
  7. Your mom and dad love and miss you more than you could even fathom. It doesn’t hurt to call, or even a text.
  8. Your group messages from high school will probably slow down and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you aren’t friends anymore, it just means you all are enjoying where you are, and that’s part of the journey.
  9. The Freshman 15 is a real thing. You have a gym, use it.
  10. Try and surround yourself with the right crowd. People who are genuine friends and really bring out the best in you. You will meet all types of different people with all different opinions. You don’t have to agree with them, but at least listen and respect them. You’d want them to do the same for you.

Want to stay in touch with my latest news and tips? As an experienced senior photographer, I absolutely love nothing more than sharing help and advice with my clients. You can subscribe to my Sparkle Notes right now, with just a click!

Want more cool tips on that amazing time before college?

18 Tip for College Freshmen :: Quick tips from the Home Room

64 Things We Wish We Knew :: Quotes from past college students

11 Things I Wish I Knew :: Today Show ran a piece on this topic

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It’s about this time of year that those infamous senior packets are being sent home! You may have already received one at the end of the year, and you may have seen the sign-up forms for the yearbook photos. Did you know that yearbook photos in our area are contracted, so all the seniors who want to be in the yearbook simply make an appointment to get theirs taken. The companies who offer them offer just a few, limited backgrounds, mostly indoor, and let’s be honest, they are more like an assembly line than an experience. Guess what? Did you know you can actually choose your senior portraits, and that you’re not obligated to purchase these standard-style ones?

You have real options, one of which is to choose a real experience, rather than some impersonal snapshots. If you really stop and think about it, these may be some of the last formal portraits you have taken before college and potentially, your wedding day! You want to remember it with fondness and associate true emotions with it, rather than be a number on a piece of paper. I am so passionate about this because you simply can’t go backwards. You don’t want to reach adulthood and wish you had chosen a better senior photographer, because those memories and this season of your life is irreplaceable and not repeatable.

If you are wondering which collection might be right for you (or if you’re a parent who is considering portraits for your son or daughter), please consider my LUXE COLLECTION! A spring family mini session is included with this collection, which is our most popular offering, and it gives parents one final family photo before their senior ‘leaves the nest’. I’m Andrea, and I’d love to meet you. I’m the photographer here at Shining Moments, and I believe you or your senior deserve the very best experience possible!

Yes, I’m ready to book!

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Modern Senior Photographer || Shining Moments Photography || Shining YOUR Moment & Shining it Bright

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Megan | Sycamore Illinois Senior Photographer

I am so very proud of this year’s graduates! It seems with all the negativity in the news and social media, many people have lost their faith. Being a senior photographer has helped keep mine alive; I daily get to meet the outstanding young people who comprise the next generation, and let me tell you…we are in good hands. Megan was part of my senior street team for 2017, representing our local Sycamore High School. She was a delight to work with, and is a highly motivated and active young woman. She loves photography, and always lent her own point of view for our street team projects. Megan graduated in front of her friends and family a few weeks ago, and will be continuing her education this Fall at Kishwaukee Community College. She loved being a mentor in the Penguin Project, was part of the bowling team, and has already began extra classes to earn her nursing degree.

For her senior portraits, Megan was really hoping to include flowers, but we have had a lot of wet and rainy weather just before her session date. I scouted several locations, hoping to bring her vision to life, and found a little area with a few shrubs and evergreens. Then, towards the end of our session, we stumbled across this beautiful lilac bush, which was perfect. I loved hearing Megan and her Mom talk about the how the smell + look reminded of her Grandmother’s yard 🙂 These colorful flowers turned into some of my favorite images from her shoot. Megan, you will be one amazing nurse one day! I admire your drive and passion, and the kind young woman you have become. Congratulations on your accomplishments Beautiful Girl!

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Sycamore, Illinois Senior Photographer

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