Three Reasons Why Tween Portraits Are Even More Important Than Senior Portraits
Aug 13, 2018 | By: Jennifer Lebo
How in the world are we at the beginning of another school year?
I’ve been asking myself this question since the calendar hit August. Another school year already. It’s overwhelming for any mom, but for me, it’s like a tidal wave.
As a mom, I’m sending my three off to school with all the other moms- this time to high school, middle school, and elementary school.
As a dorm mom, I’m about to welcome 18 new teen girls into our dorm, our home, and our hearts, so I’m gearing up for lots of cake baking, card playing, and yes… teen drama.
And as a photographer, I’m preparing for another season of high school senior portraits. It’s what I specialize in, and what I love to do, and yet I feel unready for the next round of seniors. I just saw on Facebook that two of my past senior clients got married this past summer!
Now, this is where I want to focus today. Those high school senior portraits. They have become a rite of passage for our teen daughters, and they are such a beautiful way of capturing such a special moment in time. But I want to make a bold statement today. Basically, I want to tell you those high school senior portraits- the ones I specialize in, the ones which are the foundation of my portrait business- they are NOT the most important portraits you will take of your teen daughter. Not by a long shot.
If you wait until your daughter is a senior in high school to have her portraits taken, you have waited far too long. The most important portraits you can take of your daughter happen long before then, when she is just starting her teen years, or maybe even still a tween. As your girl moves into her teen years, or perhaps celebrates her first birthday into teenhood, those are the most important moments you can capture.
In essence, tween portraits are far more important than senior portraits, for a few reasons.
1. TWEEN PORTRAITS BUILD THE CONNECTION EARLIER
Finding ways to connect with your tween daughter early on is essential. She is about to embark on some of the most challenging years of her life! Her body has probably already started changing, and her peer group may have as well. Teen drama, mean girls, relationships, crushes, new emotions- they’re all out there, and they come earlier than we might remember. So as moms, we want to find as many ways possible to make strong connections with our girls, so that they understand and remember that we are there for them on this journey.
Tween portraits are actually a great way to do this. Professional portraits. Time invested, high quality, forever-hanging-on-your-wall portraits. I spoke in depth about this in a past blog post comparing the Insta Pic to the Portrait. You can read that HERE.
To be sure, tween portraits are a way to connect with your daughter BEFORE the journey begins, or at least before it gets too overwhelming for her. Make the connection now, not when she’s a senior.
2. TWEEN PORTRAITS CELEBRATE THEIR BEAUTY AT A CRUCIAL TIME
The tween years can be challenging for our girls when it comes to their physicality. As our girls’ bodies change and develop, these years can make them feel awkward, and less than beautiful- almost like foreigners in their own bodies! They are “becoming” during this time, and it’s not always easy, or fun.
That’s why this is such a great time to have portraits taken. Rather than giving our girls the message that they are not quite “portrait ready”, or that you’d rather wait until they look less awkward to celebrate them, encouraging them to have their portraits taken during the early teen years CELEBRATES the beauty that they are in the moment. What better time to celebrate their beauty than when they are questioning that very beauty?
And if she’s not confident enough to step in front of a professional’s camera, then take some portraits of her yourself! With a few basic skills on lighting and composition, you can take your own beautiful portraits of her, without making her uncomfortable with someone else.
3. DISPLAYING HER TWEEN PORTRAITS PROVIDES EVIDENCE FOR HER
I think what I love most about professional portraits is seeing them hung in homes. In our own home, I still find myself frozen in front of our family portraits, studying the sweet faces of the babies who once were. And when my kids find me staring at these portraits, I know they feel my love for them, even if they are rolling their eyes at me.
That’s what tween portraits hung in your home will do for your daughter. Sure, she’ll probably roll her eyes at the suggestion that you display these portraits in your living room. But what might she feel deep down? What message is she receiving when you reach out to her, make the connection, celebrate her beauty (even at this awkward time), and then (gasp!) hang the portrait up on the wall? What she’s learning is that her moms sees her. Mom thinks she’s beautiful, right now, at this very moment, even when she herself might not feel it. She discovers that her mother sees her, loves her, celebrates her, and cherishes her.
Chances are good that if she begins receiving that message from you, she might start to believe it about herself.
And THAT is the most important WHY behind the tween portrait.
OK, I know. This might sound a little over-the-top for portraits. Can tween portraits REALLY do all this? Celebrate her beauty? Create a connection between the two of you? Build confidence in her at such a challenging time? Send a message to her that you see her? Make her see herself?
Well, maybe I’m crazy, but let me ask you this. If there was a chance that taking portraits of your daughter could actually do all of this, wouldn’t you jump at the chance to try it? I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to build a closeness with my own tween daughter, and the portrait date has become my “go to” for connecting with her. Maybe that’s because it’s “what I do”, but it works. Every time. And so I take her portraits often.
My daughter will turn 13 next month. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I just wrote that. But it’s true. The journey is beginning for us, and so I’m using this skill of mine to connect with her as much as possible. I’ve started early, and it’s been great so far.
But I’m also using this in the dorm. These girls are far from tweens, but I’ll start using portraiture to connect with them as quickly as possible. It will look a little different, but the message will be the same. You girls matter to me. I am so happy you’re with me that I want to document our time together. You are beautiful today, whether you’re a rising senior, or still moving through that awkward sophomore year. You all matter to me.
This is the message every girl should hear. Today.
One of my favorite quotes is an old Chinese Proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is NOW.” Don’t wait to connect with your daughter. Grow your roots today.
If you found this blog post useful, and you want to dive deeper with me on the topic of how to cultivate closeness with our teen daughters, and how to build a trusting relationship with them, I have a brand new course coming out THIS MONTH! It's called "Cultivating Closeness: Practical Steps To a Closer Relationship With Your Teen Daughter", and its goal is to help moms everywhere foster a deeper and closer relationship with their teen daughters through some simple but powerful steps. If you want to learn more about this new course, YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT HERE. You can also get on the WAITLIST, which will get you all the details first, including special bonuses and even an exclusive Early Registration!