Kara’s Senior Portrait

One of life’s greatest joys is watching your children grow into adults. My oldest daughter is a senior and I was honored she asked me to photograph her. Sure it makes sense since dad’s a photographer, but she could choose whoever she wanted for this important moment. I tried to set aside my preconceptions and listen to her vision. She was open to anything I wanted to do. (that was her first mistake).

Mat Hayward
Mat Hayward

Her personality is definitely an urban type, so I wanted to incorporate that into the session. Since I was driving to Seattle for this session, I decided to take a chance and see if my good friend Mat Hayward was available. It just happened that even with his crazy schedule, he had the afternoon off and was more than happy to come along, lend a hand a shoot few pics along the way. I picked him up and we scouted out some nice locations in downtown Everett and then Mat looked at me and said “Don’t think I’m crazy, but there is this very cool location about an hour North of here. It’s an abandoned dairy farm, mental institution and is now a park”. Sounds cool, huh?

We didn’t have a chance to scout it out—I had to rely on Mat’s vision. I asked Kara what she wanted to do. She raised an eyebrow when I mentioned “mental institution” and said “sure…sounds cool”. Chasing the light nearly to the Canadian border, we were not disappointed when we got there. The buildings were in various states of decay and that’s what gave it such a unique feel. There also happened to be a film crew there shooting a horror movie. How cool is that?

Yes it’s true that Kara has spent a great deal of her life being a model for her father. And it’s true that when she was two years old, I set her on a stool, ran back to my camera and somehow before I got there, she fell off the stool, landing on her head. Yes there are moments you will always feel guilty about the rest of your life. We laugh about it now and as traumatic as it was, it didn’t seem to deter her from sitting for her father.

Congratulations Kara for making it this far. Your father is very proud of you (straight A student) not only for your academic achievements, but for the woman you’ve become. Strong, driven and a wonderful sense of humor and sarcasm. Mat…it was wonderful to shoot with you my friend. It’s about time we finally made that happen. I hope we have a chance to do it again this Fall.

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Tammy

    It has been so amazing watching Kara grow up into the fine young woman she is today. She is so beautiful, smart, funny and (just like her dad) rebellious in many ways! I love these photos. They really capture her personality! I wish you would’ve thrown the one of the two of you in there. I love seeing photos of you with your daughters and I’m sure so would the rest of your fans!

  2. Mat Hayward

    Randy, it was such a great privilege to finally get to shoot with you. I was so honored to be allowed to tag along while you photographed your beautiful, intelligent and all around great daughter. It’s quite simply a testament to her intelligence that she would choose such a great photographer for her portraits. You did an amazing job and she is a great model.

    I can tell you I am incredibly relieved the site worked out. The guilt would have consumed me though probably not nearly as much as had I left my two year old unattended on a stool to fall…yowza! 🙂


  3. Randy

    Thanks Mat…

    First of all, she was NOT unattended. Well, kind of, but I just turned my back to walk to my camera. Alright, she was unattended. Sigh.

    I appreciate the recommendation. That was an amazing photographic playground. I’d like to go back up there again sometime.

    Tammy…yeah, I will consider the shot of Kara and I…it’s on my Facebook album. Isn’t that enough?


  4. Gary


    What a beautiful young lady. My favorites are #1 (Inside standing) – Great location and lighting, #2 (Through the window), #9 (Freedom) – You can read a lot into that one, #10 (In the field) – I like your technique on this one. Is that an old car in the background of #12, any images of her with it?

  5. Randy

    Thanks Gary! Haven’t heard from you in a while. Your seniors have been looking great, btw.

    All of these were done with available light. The field image involved a reflector and that was it.

    The car was awesome. They were filming a horror movie at the location we were shooting and the vintage car belonged to someone on the movie set. I kept a safe distance and used it in the background, but never put Kara in the car. I do have some other images with the car more pronounced.

    Thanks Gary!

  6. Jennifer

    Wow, your little girl is all grown up. She sounds amazing and she is beautiful. She has your smile. I remember her with a face full of peas at one of our Thanksgiving feast. Time flies. Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. Colleen

    Great location, and what a beautiful girl. Sheesh, they grow up fast don’t they. Seems just yesterday I shot that photo of your little girl in the fluffy dress amoungst the flowers. I certainly see the resemblance to dad there.