A reason to smile: Why students are spending more for senior pictures this year
GRANGER, Ind. - This year we’ve lost a lot, but senior pictures are allowing some Michiana students to regain some normalcy back this school year.
In a time where some may feel silenced by the pandemics' isolation, a picture... is worth a thousand words.
"Beautiful," Leah Laura said. The John Adams Senior has planned this moment for years. "To me, senior photos were important way before COVID hit 2020 - started before Senior year even hit. I started to planning mine probably Sophomore year."
But the pandemic had other plans.
“I just thought that was out the window. That was just the last thought I had. Honestly, I thought my senior year was gone, and I thought I just had to do online school and just deal with it and just wait for college and hopefully something would fix it," Laura said.
Until Meagan came into the picture.
“I started looking on her Instagram. And I noticed that she was posting girls being doing their shoots and I was really excited. So I immediately went online and try to book, and I got in as soon as I could and honestly it was really exciting," Laura said.
Locally known senior portrait photographer Meagan Gilbert was quick to make sure these young adults get their time to shine.
"Usually girls start following me their freshman year of high school and really look forward to their senior pictures when it comes to their senior year. I love girls at the age that they are when they're kind of moving from childhood into adulthood, it's really an exciting time of their life and so I get to capture a really exciting part of their life," Gilbert said. “You know, photography is a luxury. It's not a necessity, so it was really scary when everything, everything started to shut down. When you don't have somebody that's writing your check for you, you're the one that is bringing in your check it is scary. Worry about also other families that you work with losing their jobs and, you know, not having the means to then afford senior pictures.”
So she got creative.
“I did start doing signs for high schoolers so if you like passed a house and they had a graduating senior there was a class of 2020 with their picture on it so I kind of started designing signs and selling them just to get a little bit of income in," Gilbert said.
Her business didn’t stop when the world did. Instead, it picked up.
"For me, shooting outside with my seniors where you can safely socially distance by july was pretty safe. We still took precautions I drove separately to locations that we weren't in the car together. You know masks on. I have done zoom meetings when it comes to consultations instead of meeting in person if a family member was immunocompromised," she said. "Seniors, they've had so much taken away from them their senior year so really the only thing that their parents could give them which was an, which was with a sense of normalcy when it came to their senior year was getting their senior pictures. And since we could do that safely. It really wasn't it did not hit my business too hard at all.”
Although some seniors kept their masks on.
“I've had a couple of times where a mom brought a mask and she wanted me the last picture just to take a photo of them with their mask on," she said.
Many were glad they could finally take theirs off.
"So much more excited so much more grateful, I think, you know, even people around us were so excited just to see things happening again. Last year was an incredible year I every session that I had somebody would, you know, roll their window down as they were driving by and tell my girls how beautiful they were. It was good girl power," Gilbert said.
And for one day Leah along with many others - get to feel special.
“I thought I lost everything, not to be dramatic, but I really thought I wasn't going to get a graduation a prom, like Junior year, but this was the one chance I could feel like a senior and feel like I was actually going to college and actually going to like end this high school career on a good note," Laura said.