Are you Mom to a teenage daughter?
Are you looking for connection, encouragement, and tips on how to navigate these crazy teen girl years?
Then grab your camera and your coffee, and join us!
I think it’s important for me to preface this blog post with the acknowledgement that this is an opinion post. The views in this post might not be shared by all, and I apologize if my words offend or displease anyone. That is not my intent.
That said, I believe that the ideas discussed in this post are vital to our teenage daughters. I write this for those girls.
I’ve been a photographer for over a decade now, and I’ve specialized in working with high school seniors for almost all of that time. In working to improve my craft, I have spent countless hours pouring over high school senior portraits, particularly the “custom senior portraits” that so many photographers offer these days.
Times sure have changed since I was a high school senior.
I am continually blown away by some of the amazing talent in the portrait world. There are truly some amazing portrait photographers out there, and the high school senior genre is no exception.
But I’m also blown away by how many photographers are promoting the sultry, “cover girl” look. Mature poses, seductive expressions, and not a smile to be found. It seems every photographer out there is promoting the idea that a successful senior portrait session is one where our teen girls are made to look like supermodels, long gone from her high school days.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer in capturing the beauty of every teen I photograph. But I struggle BIG TIME with the “cover girl”, “supermodel”, pouty faced portraits. It actually fills me with some kind of emotion that’s part unease and part fury. The more I see it, the more I lean towards fury.
I don’t fault photographers for this. Well, at least not completely. The way I see it, photographers simply do not have time to invest in getting to know each teen in a meaningful way. Because of this, many of us photographers lack what it takes to create authentic and special portraits that really capture the essence of the teen. Instead, we have to go with a more generic style, a style we can recreate over and over, albeit with a change here and a change there to make each subject “feel unique”.
And when pushed to it, the photographer will often choose what’s “hot” and current in today’s pop culture. Thus, the sexy, sultry, supermodel look.
So what’s the big deal? If this is such a hot trend, wouldn’t it be smart to go with it, and push that kind of portrait style to every teen out there? Isn’t that what they want anyway?
I’m not so sure it is.
Consider the typical teen girl. Or consider YOUR teen girl. While she’s probably the most beautiful creature you’ve ever seen, she probably doesn’t feel like that most days. She is most likely looking at herself and finding more “flaws” than “flattery”. She’s struggling with discovering who she is, with learning what makes her truly beautiful- because while each girl truly is beautiful, it takes time for each one to discover it for herself.
So then how can we consider putting them in front of a camera, where a photographer will push the “supermodel” ideal, emphasizing all the outer beauty, photoshopping her to fit a certain image, and think that that won’t do a number on her self esteem?
Again, I don’t fault the photographer. It’s a photographer’s job to make her subject shine, to make her look flawless and fabulous.
Or is it?
It goes back to that time issue. I truly believe it takes time to get to know each teen- not just in a pre-session consult, not just in a “what’s your favorite color, and who is your bestie, and why?” kind of way. I mean in a deep and meaningful way. In a way that lets her know that you SEE her, you KNOW her, that she can really be herself in front of the camera, because she really trusts the person behind the camera.
I don’t know if it’s possible for me to do that on such a meaningful level with all the teen girls out there who so desperately need this.
But you can.
Yes, I said you. Mom.
Think about it. There’s only one girl who I can truly photograph this way, on such a deep and meaningful level. There’s only one person who can really photograph your daughter in such a deep and meaningful way. Mother and daughter. Photographer and subject.
Yeah, I know, I know. You don’t know how to use your camera. Your phone doesn’t cut it. Your daughter wants no part of you or your camera right now. You can’t even get your daughter to open up to you, let alone sit for you.
I know these things. Why do you think I’m proposing such a crazy idea?
What if your camera became your secret weapon instead of the eye sore collecting dust at the bottom of your closet?
What if you actually knew how to use it well enough that you could skip the expensive photographer who really knows nothing about your daughter anyway?
What if you could photograph her yourself in a way that celebrates her real beauty instead of pigeon holing her into society’s warped idea of beauty?
What if your camera actually helped you connect with her?
Crazy? Or maybe brilliant.
This is the way I’m going to become that photographer for all the teen girls out there. I’m going to do it by teaching all the moms out there how to shoot like me.
I’m going to give control to you moms, so that maybe we can put this whole “super hot, supermodel” image to rest already. Our girls deserve so much more than that.
Do you remember what it was like to be a new mom? I remember a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Whether it was our first baby or our third, I remember those first nights, exhausted but so scared. What in the world was I doing? I had no idea how to be a mom! I remember wishing all the time that my babies came with some kind of manual!
Well, fast forward a dozen or so years, and I am realizing that with bigger kids come bigger issues. Bigger worries. Bigger questions. And still, there is no manual.
Recently, I had a wonderful portrait session with some of the sweetest teen girls, who happen to also be students of mine. I even got some of their moms to join us for the afternoon.
Part of the portrait project involved them sharing their advice with me. I wanted to hear their voices, so that I could offer their thoughts to other moms out there who might be looking for some help.
I thought MAYBE I could create a sort of “mini manual” for my moms. I’ve decided to write these out in list and bullet form. Each listed statement has a few bullet points below it. These are the words of the girls themselves. Rather than paraphrase what they said, I’d love to share their exact words with you.
“Teenage drama is not fun.”
“Mean girls are still around, trying to bully me and take me down.”
“It’s hard to live up to the expectations that society puts on us girls.”
“My favorite way to connect my mom is when we sit down and chat right before I go to bed. We talk to each other about the good and bad things that happened throughout our day.”
“I wish moms knew that we need space and we have bad days and we act moody, please try to understand.”
“I wish [my mom] knew that sometimes I just need be alone.”
“My mom’s voice is my inner voice. So the way you speak to your teenage girl will also become her inner voice. I advise you to be mindful of everything you say.”
“Even though your daughter(s) may not admit it, you are the most important thing in the world to them and no matter their age they always need you.”
When asked what they see as most beautiful about themselves, the girls said:
“I think the most beautiful thing about me is my strength. I am a very strong person, and my mom is too. I think I grew up seeing just how much strength my mom has, that I developed it too. I love my mom more than anything, and I'm so glad that we are both strong, beautiful, incredible people.”
“My mind. I believe it’s the most beautiful thing I possess.”
“My compassion for others.”
“My parents always tell me that I have a big heart. I try my best to be a generous person and show my love to those around me. Even when I have my poker face on, one look into my eyes and you will understand every emotion that I am feeling.”
How awesome are these girls? And how awesome are their moms! These moms are doing it right. And you know what, Mom? So are you! Just the fact that you are here, reading up on how you can stay connected to your daughter, how to understand her better- it shows what a great mom you are. So keep it up!
I thought it would be fun to create for you a pretty reminder of these FIVE FACTS. And so that’s just what I did! I created a screensaver FOR YOUR PHONE (how fun!) to help you remember these few tips, and mostly remind you that you’re doing GREAT!
I also want to share with you the link to my FB Group, Love Through The Lens. It’s a group for moms with teen girls, and it’s a great resource to find encouragement and company on this road of mothering teen girls.
We’re doing ok Mom, and so are our girls.
Special thanks to the amazing girls who contributed to this portrait project. And thanks to the amazing moms who are on this journey with them.
Have you ever had those moments where you think, “No way is this a coincidence!”?
Ever find yourself talking to someone and just know that you were meant to meet this person?
That’s how I felt a few weeks back when I found myself on the phone, talking with Stephanie LaBonte. A friend of mine had referred me to a website in order to connect with someone she knew had a similar business mission to mine. Five minutes into that search, I found Stephanie’s website and mission, and was so excited about our common values that I immediately reached out. Ten minutes later, we were chatting it up on the phone, giddy over the similarities in our vision, discussing ways that we could share each other’s ideas with our own tribes.
Which brings me here, with you, today. As most of you are moms to daughters, it excites me so much to share Stephanie with you. Stephanie is the creator and founder of Empowered Girls Rise, an organization that strives to nurture self-respect, confidence, and purpose in girls from middle school through college. Seriously, how awesome is that!
Why don’t I let her tell you a little bit about herself and her amazing business herself.
As a high school teacher in an urban school district, I started to notice that with social media there was an upward trend of girls bullying, cyber bullying and fighting. I really wanted to do something about this. I knew the reason why girls were increasingly being mean to one another, it was because they had low confidence, self-worth, and had not found purpose in their lives. So I made it my mission to find a solution for these girls. What I did was start to bring strong, successful and highly motivated women into my classroom to talk to the girls. I figured if it came from outside of me and our world of the classroom the girls would listen more. It started with just one woman and 30 girls in my classroom 5 years ago and blossomed to now over 200 girls per rally plus hands on workshops, incredible keynote speakers, panel discussion, breakout sessions and networking power hour.
Our mission is to nurture self-respect, confidence and purpose in girls ages 11-25 through education, personal development, mentorship and community. I want to help girls globally to find their purpose and connect them with community members that will help them develop and thrive. We do this through Girls Movement Rallies (1 day events- conference style), District Partnerships (1 year programs working very closely with a school), Girl Leadership Series (online).
I decided to focus specifically on these three age groups because I had taught in a middle school and currently teach in a high school. I have college aged girls too because I feel that there are so many real-world skills that they need to know before getting a job. Some are struggling because they still don’t know what they want to be and these girls rallies and connections will help them come out of themselves and into their power. There is one instance that really made me do this- it was my very first year of coaching cheerleading in high school (I had coached middle school prior) and the team was a mess- they were so mean to each other. There was a huge verbal fight with some of the girls and they quit. It was right before a major competition. On the bus ride to the competition, the girls told me the girls who quit were bashing them on Twitter, saying they were going to cause trouble for them at the competition. I was so upset that these girls were tearing each other down and were going to come to a big competition to just bully them? It was in that moment that I knew it had to stop- girls needed to spend their time raising each other up- not tearing each other down.
I can’t forget my babies, though! I do this so that my own daughters can grow up in a kinder world where opportunities for girls are endless!
My favorite part is bringing all of the women together who speak and present at these rallies and hearing the testimonials from the girls. Girls normally can’t believe that these women want to come and talk to them. They will often tell me after, “She is so amazing, I can’t believe that she wanted to even come here and talk to me”. This is the magic because I will often tell them, “Of course they wanted to talk to you, don’t you know how special you are?” I can also give them their contact information and they can connect with the woman that they were drawn to. The greatest struggle is finding funding for the events. Sometimes schools cannot afford this LIFE CHANGING program for girls and that should not be so- I always try to help them get funding for these events if I can and am always looking for sponsors. Sponsors help make the magic happen.
Yes, if they are facing bullying at school Moms should:
I would also advise not to confront the bully themselves since it is not their job to worry about that- if it continues however, that is when you must advocate for your daughter. All kids deserve to feel safe in school and it is the job of the staff to make it so.
I have a Girls Movement Rally on April 26th with extra special keynote Adriana Carrig of The Little Words Project! I also have a confident, savvy girls workshop coming up on May 5th. Girl Leadership Virtual Series will be reopening June 1st for enrollment- this is an online class for girls teaching them to find their purpose. Girls get a certificate at the end as an Empowered Girls Rise Leader and have to complete a project doing something for the community (example, planting a garden, filling in for the school janitor, kindness rocks, volunteering etc.)
They can find me on my website www.empoweredgirlsrise.com
Facebook Empowered Girls Rise
And there you have it! How wonderful is this program? How awesome is this lady! I’m so excited to have connected with her, as she has such a heart for teen and tween girls. She’s passionate about serving young girls, and I’m passionate about serving their moms. Coincidence? I think not!
I would love to leave you today with two treats!
First, Stephanie has a wonderful resource for you. She has created a FREE printable that you can download here, "Five Tips To Have a Conversation With Your Daughter About Staying Safe Online".
And I would love to treat you as well!
If you haven't joined us already, I've created a Facebook Group called LOVE THROUGH THE LENS, where moms of teen girls come together to support and encourage each other as we raise strong girls. Please come join us! It's such a wonderful community!
Thank you again, Stephanie. I look forward to seeing what’s coming next for you, and for all the girls you help empower!
***Special credit to Marisa Balletti- Lavoie of Sassy Mouth Photo who took the beautiful photos of Stephanie shown here.***
Not because all the attention in the house falls on me, (although that’s nice, too!) but because it’s a celebration of the greatest role I’ll ever take on. It’s a celebration of the greatest and most challenging job I’ve ever had, a celebration of my babies and me, and a look at what we’ve created together.
It’s also the day where I get to stop and look around at all the other amazing women crushing it as this motherhood thing, from my own mom who is STILL crushing it, to all the newbie moms out there, sleepless and elated over celebrating their first Mother’s Day as a mom.
However, while the concept of Mother’s Day is so precious to me, the gift giving has sometimes been… well, maybe a tad disappointing.
My husband is the BEST! But when it comes to gift giving in our house, I run that show. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, you name it. It’s my job to consider, shop for, buy, and wrap the gifts. After almost 20 years, I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I love it. It makes me happy. My husband loves that I love it. It’s one less thing on his own chaotic plate.
So when Mother’s Day comes around, he’s out of practice. And that sometime leads to disappointments. No one’s fault, just fact.
Your home too? Yeah, I thought maybe.
I’ve learned that rather than going into Mother’s Day with my expectations high and hopeful, only to be let down by an out of practice and very busy husband and 3 young kids, I just do what I know how to do. I either get my own gifts, or I simply share with my husband exactly what I want, which he then gladly gets me.
My family celebrates me, I’m not upset over lofty expectations undelivered, and we all spend the day enjoying our family.
So here I am, to share some of MY FAVORITE Mother’s Day gifts with you this year. You’ve got about two weeks now to share this with your husband, or just skip the middleman and treat yourself.
Either way, you will LOVE these ideas because they are all about mom and they come to you from some other strong and wonderful moms. Moms gifting moms. What could be better?
Oh and one more thing! Each woman has created a SPECIAL TREAT for YOU, my reader, so read through each gift and grab your special discount, or extra treat.
I met Stephanie in a FB group for women entrepreneurs. I love Stephanie’s business, and her desire to empower and build up women through her products. She has great tutorials on her business page, too. Here she is to share her gifts with you:
Younique’s mission is to uplift, empower and validate women all over the world. Younique is a cosmetics and skincare brand with the goal to help women feel more confident and beautiful, while at the same time teaching women about make-up application. Younique follows the EU guidelines for product safety, and has banned more than 1200 harmful chemicals from their ingredient list. Vegan and gluten-free options are available. Best known for their 3D Fiberlash and Epic Mascaras, Younique products are both high-quality and effective.
Since I joined Younique last year, I heave learned so much about make-up application, and feel more confident and beautiful. I love sharing this brand with others and encouraging women to focus on self-care and self-love. I have discovered that many people do not wear make-up because they do not know how to apply it. This is how Younique is different. Support, guidance, and advice is readily available. They have a Love it Guarantee to make sure that every customer is satisfied.
I am offering an exclusive offer for Mother’s Day. I will offer a FREE Epic Mascara to anyone that hosts an online make-up class with me. Value is $24. Just reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/makeupjunkiemama/
Instagram Page: makeup_junkie_mama
Like my business page to learn more about make-up tips and tricks and how to feel your best.
Check out my website www.blendedwithconfidence.com to view the products.
OK, so Dayna may not have people who call her mama, but she is definitely mom to her fur babies and to me, that counts! I’ve known D for almost 20 years, first as her HS teacher and coach, and now as her friend and fan. She’s out on the west coach, balancing life as an actress and as an R+F "fempreneur", and she’s crushing it! Let me let her tell you in her own words about her gifts for mom.
Did you know that 80% of your skin's destiny is in your hands? If you think that crows feet and dark marks are just signs of bad genetics, think again. Your gene's account for only 20% of your skin's aging process, the rest is up to you. Our skin is our bodies largest organ, and taking care of it doesn't need to be complicated. Set aside just 5 minutes each night to get in a great skincare routine.
Rodan + Fields dermatologists have created 4 clinical grade skin care lines to address and reverse the signs of premature aging, sensitive skin, tired looking skin & even adult acne. But that's just the tip of the iceberg...
Maybe you've heard of Lash Boost, the award winning, lash growing serum that creates longer, thicker and fuller looking lashes? ($135 for 60 day supply)
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Start by taking this brief online skin care assessment to find out which core regimen is right for you. https://daynastephens.myrandf.com/Pages/OurProducts/GetAdvice/SolutionsTool
If you have been thinking of giving Rodan + Fields a try, now is your chance:
All mom's will receive $20 off their first preferred customer order between now and May 12th, 2018.
Be one of the first THREE (3) to redeem this offer to get a monthly supply of microdermabrasion paste.
Email daynastephensRF@gmail.com to redeem this offer.
Lash Boost Link: https://daynastephens.myrandf.com/Shop/Enhancements
Active Hydration Link: https://daynastephens.myrandf.com/Shop/Product/ENHEFG1
Eye Cream Link:https://daynastephens.myrandf.com/Shop/Product/AAEY015
My Website Link: https://daynastephens.myrandf.com/
Kathrine is another one of those ladies who once knew me as teacher (she ran track, so hubby was her coach), and who is now crushing it as a mom and business owner. Kathrine runs a thriving health and fitness business where she coaches and trains women of all ages and lifestyles. Here’s Kathrine to share with you her gifts.
KatFit empowers moms in all stages of life to breakdown their preconceived limits, revealing their stronger and revitalized selves through fitness and nutrition. I believe your exercise routine should be the right recipe for your lifestyle. We are all juggling so many things, and working out and training is just one aspect of your life. I can help you find a fitness plan that you look forward to completing- without it feeling like a chore. Clients work with me in person and virtually through my fitness app.
To learn more about KatFit, visit www.kat.fit. Be sure to follow us on FaceBook: @katfitstudios and on Instagram: @katfitstudios.
As an exclusive offer to the Jen Lebo Photography Community, I am offering Free Initial Consultation (in person or video conference) and 10% off your first program purchase.
What goes better with good friends celebrating each other than really good wine? Well, that’s why I have Karin here on this list. Karin is a founding leader at Scout & Cellar, a business that delivers clean-crafted wine right to your home! I met Karin through the same FB Group where I met Stephanie (pretty awesome group, huh?), and would love for her to share with you this gift of hers!
Mom’s love Wine! After a hard day of chasing the kids around, getting everyone to sports practices, piano lessons and helping with homework, doesn’t the special lady in your life deserve to enjoy a nice glass of wine?
One that won’t give her a headache or make her feel bad the next morning?
Give the gift of clean crafted-wine with four of our best selling wines for only $99 + Free Shipping. Order by May 3rd to ensure delivery in time for the big day.
Scout & Cellar Clean-Crafted Wines tell a story and give you a sense of place and time. They are grown naturally—without the use of synthetic pesticides—and bottled consciously—without added sugars, chemicals or sulfites.
They are Organic, non-GMO and Vegan. Grown organically and/or sustainably from small family-owned vineyards.
The result is wine that is clean, delicious and better for you.
To take advantage of this great offer email email@example.com
Have the perfect gift for the wine loving mother in your life, delivered straight to her doorstep!
Mother’s day Package includes:
1 bottle Chateau Roubie Picpoul de Pinet
1 bottle Hannes Sabathi Sauvignon Blanc
1 bottle Girasole Hybrid Red Blend
1 bottle Qupe Grenache
More details on all Scout & Cellar wines can be found at
One of my favorite ways to celebrate Mother’s Day is by having portraits taken with my kids. It’s amazing to see how they’ve grown throughout the years, and whenever I look at these portraits, the memories come flooding back. Another powerful and precious way to spend my Mother’s Day.
Today I want to gift my local readers with a special Mini Session package. Because I know my moms are always pressed for time (because what mom ISN’T???), I made my 30 minute session the treat here, and I’ve taken 25% off for my Moms! AND I’ve added a 30 minute pre session consult call to the package, so I can help you prepare for a great session.
But I’ve also got treats for those moms who are not local!
I’ve got a collection of FREE resources for you, so that you can take your own portraits, of your own kids, or so that you can best prepare for a portrait session wherever you might live. These are all FREE! All you need to do is CLICK and you’re on your way to more Mother’s Day gifts!
OK, Moms! Consider yourself gifted! I hope one of these gifts will make its way to your home this Mother’s Day. Heck, I hope they ALL do! Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate all the amazing and challenging and special things that we do as mothers. Let these women treat you on your special day!
And share this post with other moms! Let’s all treat ourselves this year!
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, especially to one special mom… MINE! Love you, Mom.
Years ago, I decided that on Mother’s Day my kids had to sit for portraits with me. It was the only thing I insisted on for the day, and I knew my husband would make the kids do it for me. I loved the idea of getting a few precious portraits of the kids with me each year to celebrate how much I love being their mom. I envisioned looking back years later, cherishing the photos and memories that we had created around my special day.
It may have gone off without too much of a hitch that first year. I set up the camera exactly as I wanted it, and just asked my husband to press the shutter when we were ready. I got the kids dressed and we simply went out to the back yard. So easy!
But with each passing year, this wonderful tradition because such a chore. The kids hated having to sit for photos, and they would drag their feet, complain, and usually bicker with each other over details. My husband would get stressed because he knew that “simply pressing the shutter” was not as easy as I made it sound. I was never satisfied with the first few shots, and made him and the kids try again and again and again.
One year, one of the boys actually ran back into the house between takes to vomit! I’d like to think it was just a stomach bug and not the stress of the morning.
Each year got more and more difficult until I gave up.
I’m also sharing this story with you because it’s the WHY behind this post. May my own personal suffering bring solutions for the moms in my tribe!
(Is that a little too over-the-top melodramatic?)
Let me share with you THREE SIMPLE TIPS that can help you the next time you decide you want photos with your daughter (or any or all of your kids).
All the self-help books out there tell you to visualize what you want and you will achieve it. Dream big. Picture your perfect situation, down to the last perfect detail, and you’ll be that much closer to achieving it.
Ground yourself in reality and prepare yourself for what’s coming. Because it’s coming. The snarkiness, the eye rolling, the complaints. They’re all coming. Know this, and prepare yourself for it. Have a positive and gracious response for when she asks “WHY??? WHY do we need to do this? Why are you torturing me? Why do you need photos???” Have loving answers for when she says she has nothing to wear. Help her (or stay out of her way), and gently redirect her when she chooses that outfit that you really just hate.
Promise yourself that you’ll bring the good attitude so that your kids won’t have to. They’ll simply (hopefully) feed off of your positive energy and find the experience fun.
Beyond preparing mentally, it’s a great idea to prepare yourself in every other way. Don’t wait until the day of your photos to talk clothing, location, details. Talk to your daughter about the photos, and ask for her input on what to wear. Make sure she approves of what you’ve chosen for her to wear, or make sure you approve of what she’s chosen to wear. Decide together on a location, and keep it simple. You don’t need fancy, you just need good light.
Bottom line is, the more prepared you are beforehand, the smoother it will all go during.
I think this is the most important rule of all. Make an experience out of the outing, whether you splurge on hair and make up before, or grab coffee or lunch together afterwards. This does not have to break the bank, but if you attach something that your daughter would enjoy to this photo event (that you are dragging her to, remember), then you are creating a memory for her that she’ll love.
In fact, ask her to come up with the event. Coffee? Shopping? A movie? Or just a walk downtown together. Tell her you want to make this fun for her, and get her input.
This way, when you look at those photos later, you’ll remember the talk you had over coffee afterwards. You’ll remember how you laughed over dinner. You’ll remember good things.
That’s it! THREE SIMPLE TIPS to make portraits with your teen girl bearable- even potentially FUN!
And of course, the timing could not be better, as we’re just weeks from Mother’s Day. Are you going to try for photos? Do you think I should take my advice and try again? I’m thinking I will. But only if I use these tips.
Now I’ve given you TIPS AND A GUIDE! Happy Early Mother’s Day to you!
One more thing…
If it’s really gonna be that bad, and you want to just skip the attempt, call me.
Maybe I should have led with that tip!