High school campus photo shoot in Silicon Valley

Looking Back. Looking Forward.

In July, I traded the dreary, wet Melbourne winter for a few weeks in California to visit family and friends. While there, I spent time with several teens and high school graduates. I had the honour of doing some photoshoots in some simple but meaningful places for these teens. We worked together to create some portraits that reflect the exciting crossroads they are all at right now. Here is the first of several that I’ll be sharing on the blog.

Teen female girl sits on sidewalk with knees spread apart and hand running through hair and elbow on knees.

Meet Eve! She’s just graduated high school and headed to the California Polytechnic State University or “Cal Poly” as the locals call it. I’ve known Eve since she was in 2nd grade and photographed her in many stages of her life. This particular shoot was special because in it, we celebrated how far she has come not only in her educational journey, but her journey through the teen years.

Here are some photos from her tween photoshoot when she was around 12 years old.

Tween female girl lies on her stomach reading a book gazing at the camera.
Female tween girl reads books in her room lying on her stomach, as captured looking through the doorway.

Fast forward to Summer of 2022 and we’re reunited at her home in the heart of Silicon Valley in California. We chose her high school to do the photoshoot because it’s the place where she spent the most time the past four years. It’s where she says she has matured a lot as a young person.

In her own words, here are her thoughts on looking back at high school and looking forward, to college.

What are you most looking forward to in college?

I’m most excited to make new friends and try new things like when I started high school, but on a larger scale now. Also I’m excited to be able to do this with some of my high school friends and share more memories with them. I’m also excited to pick my own classes. There’s this landscape architecture class I’m excited to take!

Teen female girl sits on a bench leaning on one arm and other arm resting gently on knees looking directly at the camera

What will you miss most about being away from home?

I’ll most miss my dog, Georgia, and my high school friends. Since I was homeschooled most of my life, I didn’t have as much time with these friends. Of course I’ll miss my siblings as well, but especially my dog because I love playing with her. I won’t be able to fluff her head every day.

Teen girls high school graduate looks through bars of school gate on a portrait photoshoot with her cross country racing bibs strewn across the gate.

You’ve experienced a lot changes in your life the last few years from moving homes, transitioning to public high school and joining a blended family. How have these impacted you?

All the big changes that have come to my life the past few years have made me a more well rounded and understanding person. Even though I wasn’t afraid of any of the changes, they came with a lot of difficult feelings and hardship. That’s part of growing up, seeing two different sides of the world. Until high school, I had only been homeschooled my entire life, so I saw the world through this homeschool kid lens and from what other people told me. Getting to experience things for myself like public school and living in a blended family will help me with moving into college.  Another change of houses, another change of new environment and going to an even bigger school.

Teen high school graduate poses with college university pennant in front of high school mural.
Teen female arm across her chest posing in front of school gates with cross country bib numbers displayed on the gate.

How did it feel to do the photoshoot on campus of your high school?

Walking around my own high school for the photoshoot felt like walking around my own home. Four years is longer than I’ve lived in most houses. High school was definitely a formative time for me. It was a place I changed a lot. Going from a shy little middle school student who was embarrassed for being homeschooled most of her life to being a more confident young adult today, someone who doesn’t quite know what she wants but trusts herself and has two wonderful friends that I hope to take with me into the next big step of my life.

Teen female girl jumps in the air with two arm high on high school football field end zone.

What was your favourite shot from the photoshoot?

My favourite shot was the one where I got to jump up on the football field. It was a space I spent a lot of my high school years. I can still remember my first day or school when we had PE for 90 minutes in the boiling hot sun and every single track and cross country practice I spent there. Track and cross country were my favourite parts of high school not just of the friends I made there but for practicing and having responsibility. It was a formative part of my high school year, so it was really fun to be there for the photoshoot, especially since I couldn’t get into any of my old classrooms. It was almost like a classroom to me.

Female teen girl holds green college pennant across her chest and gazes down at it.

How did you choose to go to Cal Poly?

Cal Poly was top of my list from the beginning because I knew people who had gone there and that it was a really pretty campus. It was also important that I knew some people going there. I really wanted someone I knew going into college because I didn’t want to have that loneliness and turn into that shy middle school girl all over again. Another reason I chose this school is because it’s so beautiful there and there are so many opportunities.  It was one of the top three schools I wanted to be at.

Teen female girl back is turned away while holding banner of cross country bib numbers behind her back spread across both arms.

What do you want to study in college?

I’m planning to study English. They have a pretty good writing program. I just love writing and storytelling has always been one of my favourite things from writing plays, directing stories in the backyard to making up my own stories with my brother, just reading all the way through childhood. I’ve always loved reading, whether fictional or biographical. I feel there are so many stories to be told and more that I want to learn about.

Teen female high school graduate poses in front of Leigh High school gate in California for portrait photoshoot.

What advice would you give to anyone still on the high school journey?

To someone in the last few years of high school, I want to remind you, it’s ok to make mistakes in the future. It’s ok to have made mistakes in the past. Don’t have regrets, don’t linger on the mistakes you’ve made or the grades you didn’t get. There’s nothing you can do about it now. Five or ten years from now,  no one will remember. The high school social group is really not as important as it feels during that time of your life. It’s all going to change in a few years. So don’t linger on it but treasure the moments that you have.

I had such a great time catching up with you on this photoshoot, Eve. You have such a bright future ahead of you and you will bring much good to the lives of people around you. Blessings and my best wishes for this next season of your young life!

~ Christine

Oh, one more thing!

During the 2020 Pandemic, I hosted a podcast called “Teens in Quarantine” where I interviewed teens from all over the world about their experience during the pandemic. I interviewed Eve during what was her sophomore year of high school. Click one of the links below to hear a throwback conversation we had during that once-in-a-lifetime event in our world’s history.

Based in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, particularly in the communities of Ashwood, Ashburton, Blackburn, Burwood, Chadstone, Clayton, Forest Hill, Glen Iris, Glen Waverley, Hawthorn, Malvern, Mount Waverley, Nunawading, Ringwood, Wantirna, Wheelers Hill, and surrounding communities. She regularly travels to the US where she serves families especially in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, and NYC.

Christine is a portrait photographer based in Melbourne, Australia with a gift for working with tween and teens. As a mother of three teens and a tween, she serves parents by providing natural, authentic and timeless portraits of their teens - an alternative to the fun but filtered selfies our teens are accustomed to on social media. Photoshoots are relaxed where Christine quickly builds a rapport with the teens and works with them to capture natural, posed, and un-posed candid shots that reflect who they are at this time in their life. Contact Christine to book your teen portrait experience. See more of her work on her website and her most current work on Instagram or Facebook.  

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