Skip the sparkly dress - Athletic is beautiful

I take a lot of portraits of girls in dresses. In fact, most of the sessions I do are very similar. Girls, all dressed up, dancing, playing, posing, talking, moping, being dramatic. All the things any girl can be, but just when they are all decked out. I really love getting dressed up myself too! But I had been keeping my eye out for a girl to work with who wasn't interested in getting all dressed up for her session. Who wanted to do something totally different. Who wanted to show that there are plenty of other ways to be girly! So when I talked to Laura about her daughter and she told me that she was extremely into sports I knew I found the one!

Ava was still a typical of every girl that has done one of my Little Women Sessions. She was smart, opinionated, a bit shy at times, and really confident at others. We asked her parents all kinds of questions in secret and then revealed their quotes on the portraits when Ava came back to see them. She was so surprised by the quotes and was clearly really touched. I think we need to do this for grown ups next (the secret interviews from family and friends), it's just such a beautiful confidence boost, but also a way for you to realize how much you mean to others. 

Ava was so dedicated to the session. She was up for whatever I asked her to try! She asked for her favorite music to be played and we ended up singing together a couple times! Win, win! We talked about all kinds of stuff and I got her to laugh as well as look really tough. So fun!

Here is what Ava has to say about the session :

"The session was very enjoyable. When I arrived, I was warmly greeted and introduced to Jen. She seemed very nice and friendly. After introductions, we put on some music on and started immediately. The positions that I took in the photos were very natural, and I wasn’t forced to do get into any positions that were uncomfortable for me. During the session, we talked, laughed, and shared our common interests. This created a very safe and comfortable atmosphere.   

The session had a very comfortable feeling throughout, and the music she played was great. Sometimes we would have to stop taking photos for a minute just to sing along to a song. We were also very social, so there wasn’t any tension or awkward silences to deal with.

We talked more than I thought we would. I did like the talking. And I loved the images. They were very professional and artistic. I had never done anything like this before, and I was very impressed." - Ava

I loved Ava's willingness to try anything during the shoot. She brought so much sports gear with her. We played with all of it! My favorite portrait is of her in the boxing gloves, so I put that one at the top. She is something fierce and intense for sure there. My favorite quote though, the story from mom "When she took ice skating lessons as a little girl, she had zero interest in the sparkly, short-skirted skating dresses that all the other girls would wear. Instead, for the recital she skated confidently as Darth Vader, cape billowing behind her." Now that, is something I connected with. I grew up in Indiana wearing vintage clothing constantly. Standing out like a sore thumb. Everyone thought I was bizarre. (: 

Sometimes it's tough to stand out from the crowd. Most of us want to be accepted by our peers and many people will do whatever it takes to gain that acceptance. It can be especially hard when you are a kid. (Insert middle or high school story that still sticks with you here) I remember so many ways that I didn't fit in when I was young. Now, as an adult I just embrace it and I have the most amazing, wonderful, weird friends around me. But it took a long time to understand and embrace that being different is just fine. 

I hope that these sessions are a way for every kid to show their own unique self. And to prove that there is no one "right way" to dress, act, look, or be. That our job as humans is to accept and love each other. And often that starts with ourselves. 

PS- I am including a phone photo that Ava's mom took for us because I loved how much taller Ava was than me. I kept having to stand on a chair during our session! (: 

 In dreams - Jen