Lena was one of the voucher winners for the Women’s Day Giveaway! She was nominated by her sister Casey whose wedding I photographed last fall. Lena is such a busy Milwaukee woman with so many amazing community involvements. When you read about her below, you’ll surely see why she was nominated for a photo shoot experience. You can read Casey’s nomination of her below:
“I’m nominating my sister. She has helped shape me into the woman I am today. She works in higher education and is one of the most dedicated people I know. She spends all of her time on other people. She is a member of two Kiwanis clubs: one where she is the advisor for Circle K clubs at three Milwaukee colleges and the other she is the president for. She also volunteers as an assistant administrator for the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan District of Circle K international and the staff advisor for the veterans groups at her campus. She has spent recent years trying to love herself again and find her beauty. I love how selfless she is when it comes to improving the lives of others. She is one of the strongest and most tenacious women I have ever encountered. She builds leaders and never wants the glory. I think she would really have fun with this shoot! ~Casey”
We were really excited when the photo shoot date finally came! And we had so much fun. It was a true pleasure to photograph Lena and her boyfriend, Matt. And now I am so happy to share this letter from Lena on her experience with me:
“I work at Milwaukee School of Engineering as the Senior Financial Aid Counselor with a specialty area of assisting current military and veterans. I have been in the position for a little over four years and this past year was honored to receive the “Student Advocate of the Year” award from the student body. I am involved with our diversity committee and I serve as advisor to our Student Veterans Organization.When I’m not at work, I’m volunteering with Kiwanis International (a service organization), where I am club President and also serve as advisor to Circle K clubs (college level) at Alverno, Marquette, and MSOE. My go-to service projects are homeless outreach and hands-on service projects like Habitat for Humanity. Give me a hammer and I’ll go to town! 🙂Matt and I met through my work with veterans at MSOE, where he attends as an Electrical Engineering student. Matt served in the US Navy for six years as a Nuclear Reactor Operator on a carrier. He’s the current President of the Vets Org and he also serves as Leadership Chair in Student Life and he’s on the strategic planning committee for MSOE. He’s wicked smart and funny to boot! WHEW! Long story short, my cats have an amazing adoptive dad.
About the ShootMorning-of I was definitely nervous! Thankfully, the environment was super chill and my worries quickly melted away. The pampering I received during hair and makeup was so wonderful; I really did feel like a model! The conversations, fun music, and casual way everything went about eased my worries and got me into the right mindset for the shoot.
The process of taking photos was fun- even when it was a little taxing on both of our bodies! Jennifer kept the instructions clear and really helped coach me into poses. Everything from where I should place my hands to the style of my hair, she was on it! During the shoot I felt truly glamorous and it really was all about me. If I was ever getting too tense or a little wrapped up in the posing, she was there to let me know to relax or make me laugh.When the shoot came to a close, I didn’t want to leave!About the Reveal & PhotosI was actually more nervous about the reveal than I was about the shoot. The setup to the reveal was nice and relaxing. She reminded the both of us that this is the most exciting part and there was nothing to be worried about.Looking through the photos was an emotional experience and it made me see myself in a different light. Would I ever consider myself model status? Heck no! But the photos allowed me to see myself as so many other people do. I was sassy, I was glamorous, I was laughing and smiling and graceful and goofy all at the same time! I couldn’t believe that the beautiful woman I was seeing on the screen was me.
So often we cut ourselves down and only focus on our flaws. After seeing the photos, my fears and insecurities about myself flew out the window. It was really remarkable.
I loved so many of the photos that it was really hard to choose what to take home. Thankfully, I didn’t have to make the choice and ended up taking them all!
Jennifer is THE BOMB. Seriously. Not only is she incredibly passionate about her work, but she makes things so easy! If you’re worried about any part of the process, you can easily talk to her about it. Don’t know what to wear? Ask Jennifer! Think you look stupid in a pose? She will tell you how amazing you look and how cool the shot will turn out. There was never a doubt in my mind that she is a highly skilled professional. She was working incredibly hard during the shoot to ensure I was comfortable and enjoying myself. She had me laughing almost the entire time and she made both me and Matt come out of our shells to create some really beautiful portraits!
Being nominated for this shoot was already amazing in and of itself, and working through the process with Jennifer was like the cherry on top. Not only was I provided with everything I needed to do pre-shoot, but the entirety of the hair/makeup/photos was extremely enjoyable and the photo reveal was rewarding. It was an amazing experience and one I will cherish for a lifetime.
Yours in service, dedication and love,