Mercersburg Academy Senior Portrait Photographers: Sarah

Meet exuberant, fearless, athletic Sarah– a tomboy with an enormous heart and joyful soul!
During this active senior portrait session, Sarah climbed in a creek, played basketball and rode a bike into the woods!  Incredibly unique, personal and creative photos resulted. 🙂
In this photo, I’m using a photography technique called panning.  I dragged my shutter and followed Sarah’s exact path, in hopes of capturing the inspiring energy of this amazing young woman:
Sarah reached out to me after seeing her older siblings’ senior portraits.  She said they were phenomenal and that she was blown away by how accurately their personalities were captured in camera.  She was eager to see how I would capture her, too.  🙂
Hailey & Nathanael were as different as night and day and both equally captivating subjects.  I was so excited to get to know Sarah better!
There is a brightness and optimism about Sarah, she sees the good in everything, laughs a lot and has a smile that can light up any room and then some!
She initially was on the fence about where to meet for her senior pictures.  She was seriously considering having her portrait session on the stunning grounds of Mercersburg Academy, the prestigious boarding school she currently attends.   She eventually chose to meet me at a friend’s farm in Shippensburg.
She wanted to capture the beautiful simplicity of the town that she grew up in.  The Pagel’s farm had a spring, bridge, barn, bikes and so many other aspects for her to incorporate.   It was the perfect setting for Sarah because it maintained the same down-to-earth feeling as Sarah herself– straightforward and authentic.
Sarah comes from a tight-knit family of nine, yes nine!
I photographed all of them a few years ago before their oldest, Hailey, went off to college.  You can see their blog link here. Sarah is so much younger in it!
Sarah is a trustworthy and caring daughter, sister and friend.  I think you can really get a sense of that in this photograph:
Sarah was in her element outdoors and was up for absolutely anything.  I saw sparkling sunlight dancing on the water and mentioned that it would be a great spot for a photo.
Without hesitation, Sarah hopped in the water!  She navigates the physical world without encumbrance, as if the ice cold waters of March and mucky slime of a creek bed on bare feet have no effect on her.  She is nimble and humble and truly up for anything.
How beautiful are these lovely orbs of light?  How about their soft, bright feeling among the muck and mud and green growth of spring?  How about the way the water is wicking up her ankles and her knee is peeking out of her ripped jeans?  These are all things that I cannot plan– moments of beautiful serendipity!
There was a rock perfectly situated near those bouncing orbs of light.
Sarah perched on top of it with her joyful glow– such a natural beauty!
She shared that she loves life and is so grateful for the awesome life that she has.   I think that this next series of photos  really shows all of that as well as her athleticism, focus and drive.
Running, clicking your heels and cartwheeling in a cornfield filled with obstacles (stones, ditches and 6 inch rigid stalks protruding from the ground)  is no small achievement.  To do all of these with complete abandon and joyfulness, this is Sarah.
This makes me feel that she can overcome anything in her path…
She is “all in”– fearless and fun-loving… look mom, no feet ;).
While she is very bubbly and fun, Sarah also has real depth to her.  She has wisdom beyond her years and takes things to heart.  Her faith is also incredibly important to her.
I really think you get a feel for her thoughtfulness here.  Her eyelashes and freckles are absolutely *gorgeous.*
Sarah also has a quiet, more introverted side that I couldn’t quite figure out.  I think that this photo captures maybe what my words cannot(?)
I focused on the dry branches that blocked my sight lines, she almost seems to be one with the stone wall.  The hole in it was just her size:
While I spend a great deal of time photographing my subject’s personality, interests and style, I also make sure to get several traditional portraits as well.
This is one of my favorites of Sarah against a mossy stone wall.
There is one side of Sarah that I haven’t really shown yet, and it is that of a fierce, competitive athlete.  She plays several sports for Mercersburg Academy: soccer, softball and basketball.   Basketball is her favorite.
She was a little hesitant to include basketball at first because she said she didn’t want your typical cheesy sports photos.  I promised that I would not do that to her.  🙂
Her basketball photos were, at least in my mind, epicly unique– check out that sky!!!
We went to Shippensburg University’s campus as they have several outdoor courts that were not far from the farm where we had met for the first portion of her senior portraits.
I hadn’t noticed before, but the basketball backboards are transparent.  It took me some time to overcome this visual challenge at first.  We were surrounded by obstacles that were visible through the backboard that would take attention away from Sarah and clutter the frame– parked cars, a hockey rink, dozens of other players on adjacent courts, etc.
I ended up using the backboard and stunning blue sky to my advantage.  I laid on my back and pointed my camera skyward.
A total side note here, Sarah is incredibly accurate with her shots.  Nothing but net shot after shot.  She would bounce it off the backboard for me so that I could time it right.  She was pretty incredible.
I am happy that I was presented with this unique idea at the end of the shoot after we had built up a mutual trust and respect.  That ball was coming straight for my face, haaaa.  She told me she’d make sure to catch it and she did.  🙂
To say that Sarah loves basketball is an understatement.  Yes, that is a state champ medal she is holding in the photo below and a pair of mismatched socks that Sarah aka “Socks” is wearing:
The mismatched socks story has its roots firmly planted in second grade.
Sarah had two pairs of basketball socks and rather than wearing matching socks together, she thought it would be “cool” to wear one of each to each game.  She said it wasn’t long until other players in the league would see her play and didn’t know her name, so they’s just refer to her as “Socks”.  The name stuck and it has been with her ever since, as have the mismatched socks!
By this time the sun was setting and a single beam hit the back of Sarah’s face and hair.  She looked at me and I could see that fierce, competitive, athletic nature that she possesses.
She would absolutely annihilate me in a game of H-O-R-S-E, haaaaa.  Does anyone remember that game???
Back to her fierceness though, and that stunning blue sky.  I like how the definition of the trees are lost in shadow, Sarah is nearly a silhouette but has rim-light defining her cheekbones.
This is what I call a cool basketball shot. 😉
You get a sense of natural gift that she has been given her unique mix of humility and confidence and you get a sense that she is larger than life!
mercersburg-academy-senior-portrait-photographer-18Sarah it was such a pleasure to work with you and your amazing family again!  Thank you for letting me into your world and for being your authentic self with me.  I hope that these photos do you justice because you are an absolutely amazing human being :).

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