Editor’s note: The Daily Reporter will feature our “Neighbors” each month, whether it be someone with an interesting hobby or profession, or a nonprofit group making a difference in our community. Here, Greenfield resident Shawna Durick, a photographer for 14 years, shares about her project to capture the raw beauty of high school seniors. For more information on Durick, visit www.shawnamariephotography.com/seniors. If you know a person or a group that you’d like to see featured in Neighbors, email [email protected]
Daily Reporter: How did you get started in photography?
Shawna Durick: I’ve been interested pretty much my whole life, but my husband’s deployment to Iraq had me taking a lot more photos of my kids, and I had plenty of time to spend learning more while he was there.
DR: Tell us about your senior photo sessions.
SD: My VIP program that I do with seniors is a year-long experience. I build my team in February and March of their Junior year. We start out with a no makeup photo shoot and interview where I ask them things like what true beauty means to them, what the best thing about them is, just things that you can’t see in a photo but are important. Then we do a party where I get my whole team together and play some ice breaker games so they can get to know each other a little bit. We usually take a few fun photos and then we start planning our big session. We choose a fun theme for this. This past year we used a hippie van and did a ’70s theme. The girls had a blast, and it was so cute! Then I break them into smaller groups, and they dream up their own photo session from location, theme, outfits and more, and I shoot it for them. One of my favorites of those was a retro pool party shoot. It was the cutest thing! Then of course each girl gets her own senior session. Even though at the beginning of the year I do a shoot showing them makeup is not necessary, makeup is fun, so we have a professional makeup artist who comes in and does this for them before their own shoot and just gives them a day of feeling special.
DR: What do the teens take away from it?
SD: Many of my girls have told me they have come out of this year with a lot more confidence. The interviews with all of the girls show them that they are not alone in the things they struggle with and worry about. They also leave with new friends, great memories and amazing photos from their senior year!
DR: What do you hope their families, friends and community learn from the photo shoot?
SD: I hope their families and friends learn a little more about them and their insecurities and the things they wish people knew about them. As far as the community, I hope they see that there are some really great teenagers in our community, and that it’s important to me to build relationships with my seniors and their families.
DR: What’s coming next for you?
SD: I plan to continue this program and possibly build on it a little more. I really want to involve younger kids at some point like a big sister/little sister relationship, but I haven’t quite figured out how to implement it. And we’d like to add more community service to the program as well.