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May 10, 2019

Surprising Things I Learned from the 2019 Graduation Season

This spring marked my sixth year of having a “senior season” – AKA my graduation marathon of shoots! The last two have been the craziest by far – managing a full time job and photographing 22 seniors (which you can view HERE!) in about 5 weeks is a bit of an undertaking, but it is so incredibly rewarding. Every year I think I kind of expect to not love it as much as I remember loving it the year prior, and every year I prove myself wrong with the amount of joy and fulfillment it brings. I know that the Lord created me for a purpose and I still so firmly believe that part of that purpose is loving on and serving college seniors well. I am always tempted to say that it is my heart and soul because I give so much of myself to each friend who books, but ultimately Jesus is who I cling to and live for, whether I have my business or not. I am grateful he has given me so many opportunities to continue doing what I love, to grow and learn with every shoot, and to meet new friends who encourage and believe in me, but I also want to make sure I don’t confuse what I do with who I am.

It should be no surprise that I am always pushing myself to get better. I’m apparently a 1 on the enneagram (I don’t know how much I buy into all of that), but I know I am definitely a perfectionist at my core. When it comes to my photography business, I think being a perfectionist is a really helpful motivator to always be looking for the details I may have missed, the changes I could have made compositionally or in posing, and just generally trying to improve. With that said, I wanted to share a few of the things I learned from the 2019 graduation season!

university of oklahoma senior holding graduation cap in front of college building

  1. There’s a balance between challenging yourself/getting out of your comfort zone and knowing that you have a specific style and there are certain things that just work. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But also, I like variety too much haha. I think I often times do some of my best work when I’m thinking outside of the box and not working in a routine.
  2. This might sound silly, but I probably shouldn’t marry someone who also has a busy season in the spring. I found myself driving home from shoots dreaming about a day when I’ll come home to dinner ready on the table from my future husband hahahah! I ate way too many leftovers and Skinnypop this spring.
  3. Don’t put it past other photographers to yell at you. That actually happened. Yikes.
  4. Don’t rely on OU grounds and landscaping 🙁 No tulips this year, which was a huge disappointment.
  5. Using sparkling cider works just as great as champagne, but don’t forget the wet wipes!
  6. Load up on the hairspray! (And bring a bottle with you, just in case!) There were a few times this year where I wish I would have had some hairspray in reach. Sometimes, that top layer of hair flows a little too freely while the rest of it stay put, creating whispies! Having a bottle on hand for an emergency is a good call!
  7. The spring is beautiful, but I actually think seniors should book their graduation shoots for dates in the fall! Not only are the mums in full bloom, but the hot campus spots like Evans & the Bizz are way less crowded. Plus, it gives you more time to use your photos to celebrate every milestone throughout your senior year. (If you’re worried about not having your cap and gown, I’ve got you covered!)
  8. Apparently 26 is too old to sit criss-cross apple sauce for longer than about 2 minutes. I spent a good amount of time editing on the floor this season and…yeah…my body hurts!

Thank you doesn’t even come close to conveying the gratitude I have for each of you! The people who support what I do, follow along on social media, check in, write kind emails, comment on blog posts, send encouraging texts, and share my name with others – none of it goes unnoticed and YOU are a huge reason why I get to keep doing what I love! I am blessed!

CONGRATULATIONS 2019 OU SENIORS!!!!

Always a friend,

Melanie

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