Considering my age, I probably overuse the terms, “dude” and “like.” For instance, when my husband leaves his boxers laying around I’m all like, “Dude, if I have to pick your boxers up off the bathroom floor one more time, I’m going to use them to wrap tuna sandwiches for your lunch at work.” FWIW, I cn transl8 a txt msg in2 eng, ROFL. Or if I hear about something that went viral, I know it’s not a medical issue most of the time. And I’m not totally oblivious to the whole social media thing, although I did have to ask someone to explain hashtags to me the other day. #I totally get it now.

As hip as I think I am (which, by virtue of me using the term “hip” probably means I’m not), few things make me more aware of the distance between my own Adolescence and Smotherhood than photographing teenagers (except Gen Y-ers doing the Electric Slide at wedding receptions). Then I just feel like ordering a glass of Metamucil-laced water from the bar and calling it a night.

We all remember (or choose to block out) what our formative high school years were like. Tumultuous, carefree, fraught with crisis or brimming with potential. Whatever your story, we springboard off those years into the adults we are now and don’t often look back.  My point is that photographing teenagers can be a tricky challenge when it’s not a demographic you feel particularly tuned in to, no matter how fast you can text or how good you are on the Wii. Such was the case when I tackled the SOAR! photography exercise this week.

Here’s the part I underestimated though: I really enjoyed it. Like, a lot (dude).

I was shooting at Paramount Ranch outside L.A. this week; it’s chock-full of texture, dust, and Old West facades. I had the sincere pleasure of meeting one of those young whipper snappers who gives you hope for the future. He doesn’t look down when he walks. He firmly shakes your hand. He looks you in the eye.


He’s a talented young man with a disarming sense of humor.


An admired big brother.


The son of a proud father.


I could get used to being around kids…scratch that – young adults like this.


So I’ll just say it: photographing seniors isn’t one of those things I’d really entertained. The endless wardrobe changes, the awkward poses that make them look 10 years older, maybe even some good old-fashioned teenage angst thrown in for good measure. But really, I was just putting up defenses for something I judged before I tried because I felt too insecure and old. There is something really hopeful about getting to meet and know young adults who are on the brink of metamorphosis. It’s humbling when you find inspiration in the most unlikely of places or people.

And another mutually beneficial bonus – they can explain Justin Bieber to me and I can teach them how to tease their bangs.


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