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 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!

Class of 2018: WHAT?! It's YOUR TURN for Senior Pictures!!

As everyone who knows me is aware, this class has a special place in my heart: my son is in this class! Which means I’ve watched these kids grow from round little toddlers, through awkward middle school years, into the soulful, fascinating, filled-with-potential upperclass high school students that they are now. I love these people. They inspire me, they make me laugh, their collective wisdom, creativity and talent astounds me, and their aspirations for their world give me hope.

HOW DO YOU WANT TO TELL YOUR STORY?

Now Booking High School Senior Portrait Story Sessions for Class of 2018 in the Denver area. How will you tell YOUR story?

So... YOU GUYS, CLASS of ‘18, I’m talking to YOU:

I'm super excited for you all, and it would be such an honor to work with you guys! I've got fresh new ideas, interesting locations to check out, and I can’t wait to hear YOUR ideas for senior pictures to celebrate your style, interests and personality.

I'd love nothing more than to bring your dream senior portrait session to life.

And if you don’t know where to start, that’s ok! We’ll sit together long before your session and design the details together over a coffee or tea. Every part of this process should be super fun: the consult, the prep (new clothes?), the photo session itself, the reveal of your proofs (which you'll see as big, gorgeous PRINTS!), and the final story-telling products if you decide to invest.

With past seniors I've explored locations far and wide -- from the graffiti covered streets of downtown Denver, to mountain trails, to wilderness preserves, vintage buildings, Botanic Gardens and other destinations and locations far and wide, including an incredible geological treasure hidden in the plains near Colorado Springs.

THE SENIOR PORTRAIT EXPERIENCE:

The Senior Portrait Experience - check out Josette's "Sex & the City" inspired fashion story photo session in downtown Denver with photographer Jennifer Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

And so here we are, and it's time to announce it officially:

THE SUMMER / FALL CALENDAR is OPEN and NOW BOOKING upcoming Senior Pictures in Denver!!

Booking early gives us plenty of time to plan your session, secure any necessary shooting permits or book space and/or makeup artists. It also allows for preparation time of your printed proofs, and turnaround time for your order. And importantly, it gives you time to reschedule comfortably in the case of severely inclement weather (doesn't happen often, but good to be prepared!)

Booking early is especially important if you want a late summer or early fall session. These will book first and once they’re gone, as much as I’d like to be able to bend the space-time continuum, at present, I’m still bound by the laws of physics. Every year it kills me when I have to turn down late booking inquiries because all remaining space is filled.

Merritt-Portrait-Studio-Senior-Pictures-Denver

INTERESTED IN BOOKING?

Great! I can't tell you how excited I am to work with you!!

If you're definitely ready to book or if you would like to set up a consultation, click the link below to send me an email.

Please include parent/guardian's name, senior's name and high school, phone numbers, a note saying you saw this blog post and that you're ready to set up a consultation or ready to book. If you have a preferred window for your session, please feel free to include that as well.

As a special reward for my early actors, if you decide to book by May 1 (with $150 deposit) and mention that you saw this post, I’m offering a BONUS print credit of $50 which can be applied to your final storytelling portrait order!

SESSION INFO:

Senior Style Guide HOT 100 Award Winning Senior Photo | Merritt Portrait Studio

Senior Style Guide HOT 100 Award Winning Senior Photo | Merritt Portrait Studio

OK... now it's your turn! Tell me: how can I help you tell YOUR story?  I can't wait to speak with you!!

Jennifer c: 970.708.2065

 

AWARDS | HOT OFF THE PRESS:

Merritt Portrait Studio was recently awarded status as a nationwide HOT 100 SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER by Senior Style Guide.

Denver Voters also awarded Top 10 status for the past 2 years in a row with DENVER'S A-LIST for Portrait Photography.

 

ABOUT JENNIFER:  I’m a Denver based high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection, personality in the eyes of my clients. I strive to do far more than just take senior pictures for yearbook, instead my focus is on storytelling with pictures. In collaboration with each client I design an immersive and empowering portrait experience, custom tailored around the personality, style and interests of each awesome senior. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about designing an amazing high school senior photo shoot for you!

"Sex and The City" Fashion Themed Senior Pictures in Denver

Gah!! This downtown senior session was crazy satisfying and so much FUN!! For starters, this amazing high school senior told me she wanted a stylish, urban, Carrie Bradshaw themed senior session -- what a dream this was for me! 

Urban Senior Pictures in Denver with Denver photographer J. Koskinen, Merritt Portrait Studio

I watched every episode of Sex & The City as they aired in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, so this request was right up my alley in every way. AND she arrived with a rolling suitcase (perfect!) and completely prepared to carry out her entire vision.

PLUS… It's Josette. I mean, this girl ROCKS. Absolutely gorgeous, to be sure, but she's also bright, passionate, talented, incredibly present when talking with you. She positively owns her strengths and lights up when she talks excitedly about them (she also hilariously owns her dislikes… Ask her how she feels about math sometime… It's kind of adorable, and I’m honestly a little envious of her ownership of this, too).

We headed to a different part of downtown Denver for her senior photo session, seeking a more metropolitan-Manhattan vibe than I find in most of my more traditionally “go-to” parts of our little metropolis. Anyone who watched Sex & The City knows that NYC was the fifth character of the show -- Carrie even referred to it as her “boyfriend.” So to capture the feeling of the history of our city felt critical to really capturing the vibe she wanted for her pictures.

Everything she brought, from the red and pink tulle skirts (which she found just for her senior pictures) to the leather pants and jacket, to the dripping pearls -- it was all PERFECT in the urban setting (and watching her enjoy crossing the street in the giant red tulle skirt was a blast!). I just love the juxtaposition of old and gritty, with her feminine and stylish wardrobe. FABULOUS. This girl has STYLE and capturing her light was a blast. Girl, making this kind of art out of senior pictures is infinitely fun!

I'm thrilled to know you, Josette, and can't wait to see where you go next with your talent and passion!

 

SENIOR PICTURE SEASON IS NOW BOOKING : Class of 2018, you're next!!

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 far more than just take senior pictures for yearbook, instead my focus is on storytelling with pictures. In collaboration with each client I design an immersive and empowering portrait experience, custom tailored around the personality, style and interests of each awesome senior. Let’s grab a coffee and chat about designing an amazing high school senior photo shoot for you!

Meet Ally | Senior Session in Denver with Gardens and Magic

This beautiful girl! That wash of greens in the bamboo! The magical soft light! Eeek!

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The first time I photographed Ally, towards the end of her winter headshot session (in studio) we were blessed with my favorite kinds of wonderful, fat-flakes snow showers… Made us all so happy we had to run outside and grab a few photos in that winter wonderland (before the snow got crazy that night, if I recall correctly!) Those snowflake photos have remained some of my favorite portraits for the are the very embodiment of joy: an enthusiastic client and great timing!

Cut to summertime, and enter timing with new summer-related challenges: Ally’s first high school senior pictures were postponed when a tropical depression moved through Denver (it was an unusually wet summer here… which was AWESOME, but did make logistics challenging for outdoor photo sessions).

Her second session date was ALMOST postponed when it so happened that at her chosen location of the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Rocky Mountain region’s first ever stinky Corpse Flower was blooming for 48 hours and attracting a record number of 30,000 people ON the day of her session! We considered changing locations… but instead decided to stick with our plan and make it work.

We started by grabbing a few urban photos in Cherry Creek North on our way up to the Gardens. I’m always amazed how really, location photos can be produced almost anywhere, as long as you have good light.

And, hello?!? She just rocked this session. Perfect wardrobe, lovely makeup by Ashleigh Franke (which amazingly didn't melt in the heat of the day!) We paired her more formal outfits with the city-scape... and then brought her more feminine choices to the gardens.

After our mini urban session, we were off to greet the throngs of people at the Gardens. Thankfully, and we found plenty of gorgeous opportunity for intimate portraits despite the crowds -- I have the perfect camera lens to be able to isolate my subject and make everything else go away. But really, it seemed like most of the people were up near the actual "stinky" flower and to be honest, I'm pretty sure we all forgot anyone else was there!

Ally shone beautifully in these floral and dreamily green summer landscapes. I’ve been wanting to photograph portraits in the bamboo walk for ages (that opening photo!) ... doesn’t she look like she’s in a fairy tale in this wash of colors and greens? And her lacy white dress and flower pink t-shirt were both just perfect choices in this setting.

So thrilled to have had the chance to work with you again, Ally!! Wishing you all the best in your next chapter!!

I’m a Denver based high school senior portrait photographer specializing in bringing out connection, personality in the EYES by giving my clients more than just senior pictures for their yearbook -- I create an immersive and empowering experience, custom tailored around the personality and interests of each individual client. I would love to chat with you about designing an high school senior photo shoot for you!