Why I Love Photographing Senior Portraits for Girls - Dallas Personal Branding Photographer Catie Ronquillo

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Why I Love Photographing Senior Portraits for Girls

Personal

I’ve thought long and hard about sharing this post. It’s always difficult to share your most authentic self online, but if this post helps just one person, I know that it was well worth the risk.

I’ve been thinking about why I decided to start doing high school senior portraits. Besides the fact that high school seniors are a fun age group to photograph, especially since most teenage girls enjoy being in front of the camera and feeling like a model for a day, it’s more than that. There’s more to it than just that “it’s fun”. It goes back to my own experience in high school and growing up.

From second to eighth grade, I went to a small Catholic school where we wore uniforms. As much as wearing a uniform felt like a drag, it took away the “What do I wear today?” question. When I got to high school, it was a relatively small Catholic school as well, but there were no uniforms. There was a fairly strict dress code, but I got to choose what to wear each day. As someone who is far from being a fashionista, this was kind of overwhelming. Confession: I used to keep a piece of paper taped in my closet to make sure I didn’t repeat outfits. Oh goodness, I can’t believe I just admitted that!

People talk about adolescence as being a tough time. Oh it is. Especially if you’ve ever had one bit of insecurity. For me, I was shy and quiet. I was very observant and was fascinated by watching other people (still am). But throughout my high school experience, I hardly ever felt like I belonged. I remember one of my friends from grade school left me by the wayside for new “cooler” friends (at least that was my perception). I was overweight and couldn’t shop in the Juniors section or juniors clothing stores. I would bow out of shopping invitations from friends, because I didn’t want them to know that I couldn’t shop in the same section. I never really felt pretty. I was awkward around boys. I was your average nerdy girl teenager who just longed to be considered cool. Even for a second.

My self esteem was further butchered one afternoon when I was confronted by a bully (who was ironically smaller than me) for something that I had said about someone else. Life lesson girls: Don’t say (post/write/tweet/instagram) anything you might regret later. It has a funny way of coming back to haunt you. I admit I made a mistake, but I never thought that it would come back to get me. The details of that confrontation don’t matter, but I do remember feeling horrible. I felt reduced to nothing.

Did I mention that happened freshman year?

It was after that experience that I was more self-conscious than ever. I worried about what other kids would think of what I wore/said/did. I worried about being judged. I would tell myself that I didn’t care what other people thought, but you know we all do! I was so insecure. I wouldn’t let anyone know that, but I was so terrified of what other people thought that I let it control me sometimes. I compensated for my outward insecurities by burying my nose in my books and acing tests and getting good grades. I figured that if there was one thing that I could get right, it would be doing well in school.

And I did.

I graduated second in my class. I was proud of that accomplishment. I knew that I would never be the most outgoing, the prettiest, the loudest, or the most popular, but I could leverage my intelligence. It wasn’t until I really started to accept myself for who I was that I started to love myself. It’s been a long and slow process and many times that insecurity seeps into my life even now as an adult. But I don’t let it control me anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful, supportive family, and I had a great group of friends in high school. These struggles were internalized on my part. Because really, who likes to talk about their insecurities?

High school is a fun and great time, but it can also be a tough time. Especially if you are shy. Especially if you are quiet. Especially if you’re a little nerdy or geeky. If you feel like you don’t fit the mold of what it is to be in high school, your experience might not be all Friday Night Lights and cupcakes and unicorns. Sometimes, high school is something you have get through.

I was that shy, insecure, nerdy girl. I get what it’s like.

Now, as a photographer, I’m honored to take your senior portraits. Because they are not just pictures. I strive to give you an amazing experience of feeling beautiful and confident in your own skin. Because that feeling is empowering; it’s an experience that can change your perspective. I hope to give high school girls an experience I wish I could have had in high school. The permission to feel brave, brilliant, and beautiful. The permission to let go of any insecurities that may be haunting you.This is my heart. This is why I work with high school senior girls specifically.

BEAUTIFUL Every girl is beautiful and deserves the chance to see how amazing she truly is.

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  1. Jen Kashak says:

    I think it is great that you wrote this! I really think that the majority of people were insecure teens, even the ones we might have thought were “cool” or “popular”! I had my group of friends, but never really even tried to talk to the popular kids, and I had several experiences of running into them as adults and having them say that they wished I had talked to them! I’ve also talked to people who were considered popular, that told me it was completely exhausting because they were constantly afraid to “mess up” and do something that would deem them “uncool”. I think the service that you offer young girls – the chance to be confident and feel beautiful as they are – is wonderful!

  2. Patricia Joaquin-Burkhalter says:

    You always gave me the impression of someone brave and confident…..certainly intelligent, no….brilliant which you are. I am proud of you,

  3. Lesile says:

    Great story. Intelligence is beautiful.

  4. Liz says:

    Whaaaat???!!! You weren’t the coolest girl in school??? From what I know of ya, they missed out! I think you’re KILLER!

    … and if someone accidentally drooled all over your website, it wasn’t me. *wipes chin*

    I love your eye!!!

  5. Anna Morgan Dobrenski says:

    This is awesome Catie! Thanks for sharing your story. Makes me want to hug you! Anyone that decides to step in front of your camera is lucky : )

  6. Marlene Lebel says:

    So forthcoming in your complete honesty! Nice getting to know your photographer before the shoot! <3

  7. Katie Sack Prentiss says:

    well said catie!

  8. […] in the Feel Good Blogging Challenge and these prompts have been fun. You can check out Post 1, Post 2, and Post 3 to catch […]

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