GABE’S GREAT SAND DUNES ADVENTURE SENIOR PORTRAITS

Holy crap you guys: my son is a senior in high school...

Fun, happy senior pictures with photographer jennifer koskinen merritt portrait studio 01-denver-senior-photographer.jpg

... And yes, it’s April so this is not exactly new information. It has been a thing for a while, but life moves so fast and we’ve been so busy the whole time that it still kind of catches me off guard, usually in the middle of the night when my mind drifts to a time just a few months in the future when he’s heading off to a new adventure. Chasing opportunities, facing fears and tapping into raw potential (the kind which is limited only by barriers we set ourselves) are the presiding themes of our conversations these days.

It’s scary. And very, very exciting. And sometimes you've just gotta laugh.

So, after years of him assisting me on other people’s senior portrait sessions, this year it was time to get his gorgeous mug on the other side of the camera. We knew, just from having struggled to find time for his headshots, that actually scheduling his photos was imperative. So we decided to go big, book it in the calendar and turn it into a mini family adventure. A “destination senior session!”*

Early on he had mentioned a desire to take his senior portraits at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in southeastern Colorado. We hadn’t been there since he was about ten and the idea stuck, so to the Sand Dunes we road tripped.

Where we found surreal light, wind-blown sand, mind-bending landscapes and mosquitoes. Lots and lots of mosquitoes (PSA: there's a "mosquito hatch" season over Medano Creek and we discovered it -- which is why that picture below is the only photo we have near the water!)

Indiana Jones inspired senior portrait with photographer Jennifer Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

Since he was old enough to get lost in stories, Gabe has been keenly interested in the details of the characters whose stories have captivated him.

From baseball players to Indiana Jones, from Leo diCaprio’s character on the Titanic to the superheroes that captivated his attention for years, he has studied and resourcefully created elaborate costumes to wear for Halloween and Comic-Con. So it was fun to watch him view his senior portrait session as a chance to express his own character in the stark and cinematic sands of a rare Colorado desert.

We had a blast, discovering our own balance on the rough sandy breeze, somewhere between cinematic portrait and comedic experience.

And of course all this happened while lugging wardrobe and camera gear across the desert sands, blinking frequent wind driven clouds of rocky dust from our eyes (it was the first time Gabe's camel-length eyelashes were more than just pretty -- they were functionally practical!)

Shooting at the sand dunes is not without its challenges.

Intermittent and unpredictable winds mean flying sand is always a threat to your equipment (meaning essentially you need to pick one lens and stick with it).

In addition, the distances are much greater than you imagine so you spend a lot of time trudging across thick sand to get to “that hill right over there” (which is never actually right over there), and the light is surprisingly fast moving and oddly difficult to predict with so many bright surfaces to bounce it around.

But when things click into place, it’s incredibly exhilarating.

I mean, check out the ephemeral light bouncing off the dunes in these black and white photos... flying sand everywhere (but you can see it especially well at the edges of the light near the surfaces of the dunes)... and dramatic shadow lines stretched out before us from the quickly setting sun.

There's a lot of magic in those dunes.

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All in all this was a fantastic and memorable experience. It inspired me to want to offer destination sessions to my clients.

With some advance planning and permitting, it's a great excuse to book some family time outside the everyday.

I love that the final photos are a fun mix of editorial, storytelling, fashionable and adventurous feeling.

We also caught a beautiful sunset, which, over the dunes with mountains behind and water underfoot, was completely surreal.

Quiet and majestic.

Gabe… my lil' buddy who is becoming a man... watching you grow up and step into your talent inspires me every single day. I love you with all my heart and can't wait to see what adventures await as you embark upon this next chapter of the story you are writing...

YOU ROCK!!

 

Even the camera roll on my iphone tells a fun story of its own (below).

NOW BOOKING SENIOR PORTRAIT SESSIONS FOR CLASS OF 2019!

DON’T WAIT (had to turn away too many end of season clients last year and it broke my heart!)

Click below to send an email to Jennifer. Be sure to include your name, parent's name & email, your school, a PHONE number, and then please check your spam folder if you haven't heard back from me within a day or so!

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I’m a fun-loving Denver high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection and personality in the eyes of my clients. I strive to do more than just take senior pictures for yearbook. Instead my focus is on creating an unforgettable experience. Together we are telling a part of your story with pictures. I collaborate with each of my clients to design an immersive and empowering portrait experience, custom tailored around his or her personality, style and interests. I’d love to tell a high school senior story about YOU. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about designing an amazing high school senior photo shoot for you!  

cinematic portrait of high school senior walking off into the desert, photographer Jennifer Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

Meet Trinity | Urban Vibe Senior Pictures in Denver

I’m not sure I could ever put into words how much I adore photographing this young woman. Hopefully these urban, high school senior pictures, which we photographed right in downtown Denver will do the talking for me! 

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She was one of my very first headshot clients some eight years ago, back when I was really comfortable photographing architecture and loved good light, but had little experience with portrait work. I remember being creatively inspired by her unique, ethnically ambiguous look, her adorable dimples and her grounded confidence.

In the years since, we’ve watched her beautifully evolve into herself, becoming an extraordinary, intelligent and talented human. This young woman is going places, and I can’t wait to watch the next chapters of her story unfold.

As will come as no surprise, the chance to photograph her senior portraits was an absolute honor... and even more joyful than I could have imagined. Having been inspired by luminous frames I've seen in movies recently, I mentioned that I was curious to try rooftop photography, and thought her look might be perfect for this cinematic-inspired shoot. She loved the idea, and so the details of her session location were born. We started out in the alleys and urban corridors surrounding our final destination for the evening, Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art at dusk.

She arrived with a fantastic wardrobe, and the day itself gifted us with a most perfect combination of skies -- cloudy when we wanted clouds, backlit sunshine when that would be most dramatic. And a twilight blue over the city set the perfect backdrop for the exact cinematic portrait session about which I’d been dreaming.

OK how about I just share some of the pictures now??

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As is hopefully obvious, I absolutely loved every minute of photographing this beautiful human!!

Trinity, we LOVE you and can't wait to see what you do next!

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I’m a fun-loving Denver high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection and personality in the eyes of my clients. I strive to do more than just take senior pictures for yearbook. Instead my focus is on creating an unforgettable experience. Together we are telling a part of your story with pictures. I collaborate with each of my clients to design an immersive and empowering portrait experience, custom tailored around his or her personality, style and interests. I’d love to tell a high school senior story about YOU. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about designing an amazing high school senior photo shoot for you!  

NOW BOOKING Senior Portrait Sessions for CLASS OF 2019!

DON’T WAIT -- I had to turn away too many clients last year because we ran out of session times and it broke my heart! Session times for the season book quickly and booking early means you have more date options and flexibility in the event of weather delays. Use the link below to email and set up a portrait consultation now!

Click below to send an email to Jennifer. Be sure to include your name, parent's name & email, your school, a PHONE number, and then please check your spam folder if you haven't heard back from me within a day or so!

Meet Cooper | Fall Senior Session in the Mountains

What a blast it was playing in the mountains while photographing this handsome, fun, bright senior!

senior guy pictures in Denver mountains, photographer Jennifer Koskinen
laughing senior guy photo in fall

Cooper lives a bit farther from Denver than a lot of my clients, and schedules being what they are we arranged his senior portrait consultation over the phone. As a result, I didn't have a chance to actually meet him face to face until the day of his photo session.

I prefer meeting clients before their session for a consultation if possible so they are fully comfortable with me and what to expect from this experience. Yet despite not having met first, by the end of our time at Lair o’ the Bear park I felt like we'd been friends forever!

We had such a great time getting to know each other, laughing and searching for the best spots on the trail. And what a great location this park is, just up the road from Red Rocks Amphitheater, west of Denver.

Cooper is an avid autumn-lover, and was fortunate to attend a school with a later yearbook deadline which allowed us to plan his outing accordingly. We chose a session date closer to peak autumn color (so many high school senior yearbook deadlines are too early for peak fall color in Colorado, which really doesn’t happen until the middle to second half of October).

As Cooper is an actor (heading to one of the most prestigious BFA programs for acting in the country), part of the goal was also to get him some actor headshots as well. I love the mix of capturing intimate, character-in-the-eyes photos with the more casual, quirky photos you get to explore on a senior session. For example, someone who wants to do yoga and meditation in the woods? I'm in!

One of my favorite things about visiting the mountains is how the trails can change dramatically in just a few steps. This area has so many varied vistas, allowing for deeply shaded photos, cottonwood, water flowing in the creek, and open fields with tall grasses. And in autumn, everything glows with golden warmth.

Like the personality of this awesome young man! So excited to see what he does with the next exciting phase of his life!! Thank you for letting me capture this experience with you, Cooper!


CLASS OF 2018: SENIOR PICTURES ARE BOOKING FAST!! Drop me a line if you'd like to learn more!

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I’m a fun-loving Denver high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection, personality in the eyes of my clients. I strive to do more than just take senior pictures for yearbook, instead my focus is on storytelling with pictures. Together we’ll collaborate to design an immersive and empowering portrait experience, custom tailored around the personality, style and interests of each awesome senior -- hopefully YOU. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about designing an amazing high school senior photo shoot for you!

Little Black Dress | Urban Street Fashion Portraits in Denver

How could I not love photographing this fiercely fun and amazing human? This session, my 4th with Sarah, was creatively inspiring as an “after senior pictures, I’m heading to college!" session.

golden urban senior portrait denver, photographer jennifer koskinen
Senior Pictures and Fashion Session with Sarah

People who follow my work may recognize Sarah from prior sessions, dating back to her sophomore year, in one of my early sessions in my first studio.

Her senior pictures last summer were an absolute blast (and have become some of my most popular Pinterest pins).

(left, top row)

And of course, she modeled for our unforgettable styled corset session for Redthreaded just last December.

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So this time, we decided to celebrate her heading off to college in LA with one more session, this time a “little black dress” fashion shoot in historic downtown Denver. And we had a great time wandering our mini urban corridor!

Contrast in photos is one of my favorite elements with which to play. Light and dark, old and new, order and chaos. And in this session, the striking contrast of her femininity, fashion style and graceful strength set against the gritty urban backdrop of 17th street in downtown Denver.

I also thoroughly enjoy the contrast of her fierce, stunningly beautiful model face, and the cracking up that ensues when I get overly enthusiastic and accidentally make her laugh. And then how she can snap back into model mode in a fraction of a second. We always have a blast shooting for hours and this time was no exception!

17th street in Denver captured my attention when I first moved here and it turns out, Sarah has loved it since she was a kid as well. The scale of the structures on this street makes Denver feel bigger than other streets. And at the same time it feels “cozy,” being flanked by architecture framing at both ends. Something about my background as an architect makes me appreciate this kind of urban setting for portraiture and fashion style photography.

Constantly changing, vibrant and always in motion, the textures and light of the city keep me on my toes as a photographer, always looking for something I haven't yet seen. The environmental unknowns also elicit genuine reactions in my clients, allowing me to keep sessions fresh and fun, always. Not that the fun part is ever a challenge… Our little black dress session was, as is every opportunity to photograph (and spend time with) Sarah, creatively inspiring and an absolute blast!

Sarah… girl, I’ve watched you work your tail off, push the boundaries of your incredible potential, claim absolute ownership of your explosive talent, push yourself like crazy in the direction of your dreams and still maintain an awesome, quirky and FUN personality.

I’m so happy we got to fit this “little black dress” session in before you headed off to your next exciting chapter… and as always, I am already looking forward to our next creative endeavor!

Watch out Los Angeles (and world)! This girl is GOING PLACES!

SENIOR PICTURES and NEW GRADUATE portrait sessions are booking QUICKLY for summer and fall! Email now if you'd like to learn more... here's a link:

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: I’m a fun-loving Denver high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection, personality in the eyes of my clients. I strive to do more than just take senior pictures for yearbook, instead my focus is on storytelling with pictures. Together we’ll collaborate to design an immersive and empowering portrait experience, custom tailored around the personality, style and interests of each awesome senior -- hopefully YOU. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about designing an amazing high school senior photo shoot for you!

The Senior Portrait Experience | Magazine

Welcome, Class of 2018 (upcoming) SENIORS!!

(or, Welcome, Class of 2017 senior who is about to graduate and missed out on wonderful senior pictures and still wants to book an amazing, once in a lifetime portrait session before heading to college!!)

I'm excited to share this magazine which I designed to visually walk you through the process of the senior picture experience in a bit more depth. We'll discuss all of this in person at your consultation. I hope this provides some inspiration for things you want to try in your senior portrait session. In it, you'll find ideas for locations, styling, a bit more on how the process works, and lots of pictures to get you excited to tell YOUR story.

{ feel free to view the magazine in full screen mode -- note that clicking full screen will open a new browser window }

 

Hopefully if you're reading this we've already set up your consult, but if you've found this post on your own and would like to know more, please click this link to drop me an email:

Or call me at 970.708.2065, and let me know a good time to reach you! Let's grab a coffee and you can tell me how YOU imagine your senior pictures.

I'm so excited to start our creative collaboration to celebrate your senior year with artful portraits!!

Cheers,
Jennifer