Professor John Keating (played by the late Robin Williams) in the film Dead Poets Society uttered these words, “Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary”. I met with a senior this past fall who is 110% living those words…
I met Cheyenne & her mom, Christie, during a consultation at the studio in mid fall of 2015. Every time I get to a point in my career where I think I could do sessions without consultations, I am quickly reminded as to why they are so important. Cheyenne & her family were my much needed reminder that consultations will forever be a staple in my business plan. In their consultation, I learned what needed to be known in order to create what this family really needed.
Our consult started just as any other would; me asking the high school senior questions in order to try and learn more about them. We also chitchat a little so they can see that I’m a pretty nice gal that isn’t completely out of touch with teenagers. (I hope! I’ve become a “thirty something” recently, and I’m trying to stay “hip”. ßThat word is my jab at my parents’ generation!) As I spoke with Cheyenne, I quickly learned that she was an amazing girl, and would be graduating a year early! She had gone through something with her dad that lit a fire in her, and she couldn’t wait to start her college education to make an impact on the world while she had the chance. (Seriously, isn’t that just amazing?)
I was soon to learn how she became this awesome girl who was ready to take on the world.
Blinded by her amazingness, I forget how our conversation transitioned from “The Amazing Senior” to her family, but I quickly realized we would be doing more than just the standard senior session. Cheyenne & her mother began discussing how their 2015 had turned from wonderful to nearly tragic. With tears welling up, I learned how Brian, Cheyenne’s dad, suddenly & without warning, became a heart transplant patient. As her dad battled this physical fight with his body during 2015, this family discovered what was the most important in their lives; family…and time.
We discussed adding a family mini session to the end of Cheyenne’s session, and I was impressed that a senior was more excited about that, then getting to have a day to be pampered for just her! (Our seniors get their makeup professionally done & we like to make them feel like a superstar for the few hours we have them in the studio – Cheyenne was thrilled just to spend an afternoon with her mom and dad.)
We scheduled both Cheyenne & her mom for makeup with our makeup artist, Sallie, whose father had a heart transplant as well. With my grandmothers’ heart battles (she had multiple open heart surgeries), Sallie’s family history, and this family’s current battle, the whole session day was filled with emotions. The girls all bonded over hospital stories during the makeup application, and then we were off to Ox Bow Park for the session.
Cheyenne was a natural, and an absolute joy to photograph. Once I had what I needed from her solo part of the afternoon, we headed into the family portion. I finally met Brian, and was thrilled that he was willing to wholeheartedly participate (most dad’s take some convincing.) We tried many different poses so that I could give them a variety to pick from at our ordering appointment, but I must be honest; I had moments during the family portion of the session when I had to take a breath & collect myself (hoping they wouldn’t notice.) Through my lens, I was seeing why I chose this profession. I was staring right at a family that was holding on tightly to a member they could have lost. They were cherishing each other, and taking a moment to capture the bond that they had. I watched moments; moments like a husband and wife smile at each other with thankfulness, a mom & daughter that had learned to rely on each other for strength, and a father & daughter giggling like nothing had ever gone wrong in the first place. They were in the moment, and also making sure that their relationships would never be forgotten. I was honored that they chose me to be the one to capture those bonds.
During the session I learned Cheyenne’s motivation for being so driven. She had reached a place of clarity at just 17 that most need a lifetime to reach. She didn’t want to waste any time getting to her goal. She understood that times end is unknown, and that time is a gift that cannot be renewed. She watched her father battle with an illness no one saw coming, and she would seize every opportunity she had with the time she had been gifted.
We talked about my reason for choosing this profession during their consultation, and I’m still in awe at how often these types of clients find me. I feel like certain people in life are brought together for reason’s unknown, and this family was my reminder, once again, that this profession matters, taking the time to be photographed matters, and we shouldn’t forget to take the chance to be remembered.
Through the grapevine, I’ve heard Brian is struggling with his health again. It makes my heart ache that Cheyenne, her mom, and their family have to deal with this life battle. I do take comfort in knowing that they took the opportunity to be photographed when they had it, and I’m honored to be the one to share their story, for it is a story of love, faith, thankfulness & strength.
When I’m tired, I try to remember that there is plenty of time to sleep later, so in the honor of this family, I urge you to take the time to hold tight to those you love & honor that love in whatever way keeps it alive in your hearts.
*I’ve recently learned that Cheyenne has decided to earn her degree in pediatric nursing. I have no doubt that her experiences will make her an amazing advocate for patients’ families, and she will be a gift to those who end up needing her.
- What is your favorite way to show your love for your family? Share it below in the comments!