Photo Shoot + Interview with Aspiring Teen Musician: Scarlett Rayne

Unique. Original. Creative.

Scarlett Rayne, one of our Teen Identity team members, has some forward-thinking ideas about life, friendship and identity… and she’s bold enough to share them with the world.

More images and stories coming over the next few weeks from our latest Teen Identity team photo shoot… where we empower and inspire girls to unleash their true beauty, find their voice, and change their world… forever.

What do you value most in your life currently?

I’ve always loved music and on the days that mom takes away my radio or albums or something I could seriously die. I know that sounds really over dramatic, but that’s just how I feel. I really don’t know where I would be or what I would do without it, because it’s gotten me through so much.

What is your vision of your future?

I really hope to have a pretty successful music career, I don’t expect to have a career anywhere near bands like Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith or Jefferson Airplane, but I hope that I get somewhere.

What characteristics do you look for in friends? How do you choose your friends?

I usually don’t walk into a room full of people I don’t know and meet someone, I usually take a few days to realize who’s worth my time and who’s not. I don’t like being associated with people who have very hateful or violent personalities or views on life and people who just constantly put people down or think that there are better than everyone.

I really can’t stand liars or brown nosers; the people that will say anything to impress you or please you, what’s wrong with being honest and just saying what you feel and being yourself? (I get it if you’re trying to find yourself but don’t make up a life or be mean while doing it.)

Those are usually the people that I get along with; the people that say they like the color pink just because everyone that they’re around does, and the people that tell me that they like my pants because that’s what I want to hear.

Bottom line, I like friends to be very honest (not mean), genuinely loving, nice people who are true to themselves.

What do you say or tell your friends when they’re feeling down or depressed?

I usually have to say something along the lines of, “Hang in there, there are things to live for, you just have to find them. Giving up is easy, keep holding on and one day you will find that something to live for.

Sometimes it may feel that you’re the only one that’s hurting, the only one that’s in this position, that life couldn’t get any worse and this is the only way out, but it’s not and you’re not the only one, you’re not alone, you just need to hang in there and I promise you, you will see that light at the end of the tunnel things will get better, You just have to take life one moment at a time. Things will get better, trust me they will; I promise you.”

What do you worry about most?

I’ve learned that life is waaayyyy too short to worry about things, things that are most of the time out of your control, and that I shouldn’t worry about anything and just enjoy life; live life to the fullest.

Describe your ideal world related to how girls are treated… at home, at school, at work, in life.

Lots of women are taken advantage of, screamed at, beaten, and held to higher standard just because of being women, I really don’t understand why. All that happens to men too, but a lot less because they’re just that, men. I really hope that women will one day be respected more and treated better, and not held to such a high standard because we are only human.

Looking Back on a Year of Change

Whether it’s an annual review or a year in pictures, the different ways you can look back on your past year are innumerable.

What are your plans? How will you review the past year and plan for the new one?

From the Christmas cards we’ve received and blogs I’ve read, I see a general sense of relief that this year is coming to a close. Do you sense it too?

When it comes to the year we’ve had at Teen Identity, I am amazed at where we are and the vision for the future.

One of my target goals set at the end of 2010 was to photograph over 100 tweens and teens… I’ll let you know if I hit that goal when I post my detailed end of year summary. For now, I just wanted to share one of my favorite images from a model team shoot this year…

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Happy holidays!

I hope you are enjoying and savoring your time with friends and family.

Fashion Magazine-Style Teen Fantasy Photo Shoot: Plan. Prepare. Photograph.

10 models posing, 9 props awaiting, 7 locations preparing, 4 hair dressers styling, 3 stylists dressing, 2 makeup artists working, 2 video guys preparing, 1 photographer shooting …

If you want, you could sing that list to the Christmas song… “and a partridge in a pear tree.” While you’re singing, scroll down and see the new images!

It was a couple months ago when we released the first set of images from our fashion magazine-style photo shoot in Atlanta at Lullwater Park. The truth is that anyone can plan a styled shoot like this. In fact, celebrity and humanitarian photography Jeremy Cowart believes that everyone should. And so do I!

Not only will creating a styled fashion photoshoot inspire and challenge you, it will stretch your creative muscles, give voice to your unique style and vision, and invigorate your creativity. You don’t have to have a big budget, all the latest equipment, professional models, or perfect props. The stretching of your creative muscles can come from putting something together with what you have and can procure with your imagination and resourcefulness.

SIX ESSENTIAL STEPS TO PLANNING A STYLED FASHION SHOOT

  • location secured
  • styling and outfits procured
  • ideas cultivated
  • inspiration binder created
  • storyboard drafted
  • music selected

SEVEN INSPIRING PHOTO SHOOT LOCATIONS

  • two bridges
  • the woods
  • fallen trees
  • a babbling brook
  • open field
  • rippling lake
  • worn and weathered castle-like fortress

As you look at these images, remember that these are junior high and high school girls… regular girls who spent a Saturday experiencing something that most girls dream their whole lives of experiencing. They are amazing and we are so proud of who they are and the confidence they exude from their very core!

Are they “real” models? Of course! They model for us and have been featured in magazines, national presentations, films and videos. Their images have been seen across the world and have been selected for gallery showings.

Are they “professional” models? No! They’re regular teen girls getting up early to go to school, braving the world of drama, bullying, technology and life as a teen girl in 2011. That’s what makes them so amazing! If you haven’t seen their new short film, you gotta jump over and see that!

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The Patterns You See (D364)

There are patterns we see and ones we miss. Which are more important?

I’ve noticed patterns in the reasons people start a 365 and patterns in the reasons they quit. I’ve noticed patterns in the images I take and the way I read my camera manual. Particularly in the last few weeks, I’ve noticed patterns in the images and events I shoot and the way I process and post them.

But I can guarantee you that there are patterns I don’t see… patterns in the number and style of images, patterns in the way I write and communicate, even patterns in the way I share images.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?
With only two days left in this 365 challenge, I’m anxious to hear what patterns you noticed throughout the year or even in the last month… what patterns of style and theme… communication and sharing… or anything else you picked up on. Help me see what I may have missed so we can all learn!

One definite pattern I know I’ve seen is the increase in images related to Teen Identity. That’s definitely a function of the business growing and expanding, which I believe is in direct correlation to my commitment to improve my craft. In keeping with that… here’s an image of the latest set of rep cards we created for our teen models.

Teen Identity Models in Rangefinder Magazine (D278)

One of the exciting features for our Teen Identity models is that we use their images in publications, marketing, and advertisements.

You can just imagine the reaction of a high school junior or senior girl who has always wanted to be a model… when she sees herself in a “real” magazine for the first time… the response is priceless. Her self esteem soars, her view of herself forever changes, and she has fulfilled a dream that she may have never thought possible. Tears often flow and smiles are brighter than ever.

Since I’ve been working on designing and updating the Teen Identity website, I decided to capture a couple of our recent features in Rangefinder Magazine.

We’ve been absolutely thrilled with the incredible response to the Rangefinder ads… hundreds of photographers have signed up to learn how they can bring Teen Identity to their town or studio. Check out photographers.teenidentity.com to learn more!

Voices of the Victims: “I’m Afraid of the Dark”

Many girls grow up with a deathly fear of the dark… for some it’s legitimate fears of what happens in the night, for others it’s fear of the unknown…

For girls on the street, it’s a fear they may never overcome.

Coupled with that fear is a pervading sense of loneliness and isolation.
Intimate friendships and relationships are near impossible without the ability to trust.
Shame is a constant companion.

Even when surrounded by people, the shadow of loneliness is always present.

I’m posting two images every day this week from the Voices of the Victims series of images I shot last month. The Teen Identity models stood in for girls on the street, giving voice to fears and feelings, hoping someone will listen.

Take action now… we are creating partnerships with organizations to find opportunities for photographers who want to make a difference by sharing their talents. You can sign up to learn more at photographers.teenidentity.com. Over 300 photographers across the nation have already joined the list… we’d love to have you join us too.

Photo Series: Voices of the Victims

Injustice is an attack on God’s children.
If we do nothing, we stand with the oppressor.

Two months ago, we rallied around Street Grace to donate $100 to this organization fighting sex trafficking and child exploitation in the metro Atlanta area. Thank you to those of you who participated and helped us make it happen.

Last month, I shot a photo series representing the voices of the victims caught in this life not of their choosing. The series is being displayed at the Street Grace citywide event June 4th from 5 – 9 pm. It’s an evening of education, awareness and engagement… if you’re in the area, you won’t want to miss it.

Before the photo shoot, the Teen Identity team and models watched a trailer of the documentary Playground, so they would have a better understanding of what is happening in their own city. Then each girl chose her own statement and made her own sign to represent the voices of the victims trapped in this tragic life. Below are just two of the images in the series… I’ll post 2 new ones each day and hope they touch your heart and maybe even move you to action.

Take action now by getting involved at Street Grace. We are also creating partnerships with organizations to find opportunities for photographers who want to make a difference by sharing their talents. You can sign up to learn more at photographers.teenidentity.com. Over 300 photographers across the nation have already joined the list… we’d love to have you join us too.

With Every Mountain Top Comes A Valley (D259)

I’m a little slow sometimes. Why is it that I always seem to forget this basic principle of life, that every mountain top experience is followed by a valley. Those valleys are directly proportionate to the height of the mountain top.

Maybe it’s kind of like Flash Forward (if you’re watching that show), people try to change their fate but “the universe” always course corrects to get the people back on the right track. There always has to be balance and counterbalance.

I heard the wildly popular author Ted Dekker speak once about how if we want to show true light, we have to paint with a very dark brush. The contrast between light and dark is critical. Paint with a light grey brush and the white doesn’t seem as bright. Paint with a pitch black brush and the white seems so bright it might even hurt your eyes.

LIFE IS NO DIFFERENT.

Saturday I hosted our first Teen Identity Extravaganza and we celebrated the teen models and our team.

Four girls stood up in front of the crowd and shared about what an impact Teen Identity has already had on their lives, how they feel about themselves, and the new view they have now when they look in the mirror.

That’s no small victory.

Sunday I wrote about the most fulfilling photo shoot of my career creating a photo series of images to support the joint efforts of Street Grace and 12Stone Church to stop trafficking of young girls in Atlanta.

Monday the valley came and hit hard. That’s why this post is going live today and not yesterday.

How do you get through the valleys?

Can you see them coming?

Technical Knowledge and Images: Watched Escalate Live to learn and look at images from Dane Sanders, Becker, Jasmine Star, and Julianne Kost.

The Most Fulfilling Photo Shoot of My Career (D258)

Today marked a milestone in my photography career. It was a photo shoot that had little to do with me or even the Teen Identity models I worked with… it was all about a mission and message aimed toward helping end child sex trafficking in the United States, particularly in Atlanta. I don’t know that any other shoot has been as rewarding or fulfilling as the one I did today.

I know this topic is hard to think about, much less talk about and get involved in. I understand the feelings and fears that rise within mothers and fathers, grandparents and siblings. It feels dangerous to get involved, to speak up, to break the silence. But it is not as dangerous as the daily life of just one of the girls trapped in a life of untold abuse. I’m so proud of the Teen Identity girls who came out and spent their afternoon learning about this topic and standing in to be the voice of these faceless girls.

Last month I mentioned my goal of raising money for Street Grace, a coalition of non denominational churches fighting sex trafficking in Atlanta. I was thrilled that we met our goal and were able to donate $100 to this great cause.

I’m also helping plan a citywide event that 12Stone Church is hosting on June 4. When I first heard about the event and their call for creatives to present the topic in a way that would help engage and educate the public, I immediately thought of creating a series of black and white images of teen girls holding powerful messages about who they are, how they feel, and what they want. The idea of holding messages or signs was inspired by Jeremy Cowart’s photo series, Voices of Haiti.

Today, we made the photo shoot happen with 12 girls from our Teen Identity team. The images I’m creating are for the victims room… a place to help people connect to the struggle and story of young girls caught in this insidious and tragic failure of society.

The image above is a portion of one of the images. I’ll post others throughout the weeks leading up to the event next month. If you’re in the metro Atlanta area, please consider stopping by to support this event and get involved to help end this insidious crime against our daughters.

Image Specs: Shot with Canon 5D, 85 mm lens, 1/100, f/3.5. Processed in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to add contrast and sharpness to give it an edgier, grainy look and feel.

Technical Knowledge and Images: review of notes from Creative Live and images by Jeremy Cowart.

Tools for Teen Action Planning (D246)

Although I’ve been working with teen girls for years, I still find myself learning new tools and strategies for bringing our ideas to life. Today was no exception.

We’ve got a Teen Identity Model Extravaganza in less than 2 weeks, which means we’ve got to stay organized and make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and when. We’ve also got a photo shoot for Street Grace and the filming of a PSA. Add to that, pre-planning we’re doing for the Suwanee Festival of Books teen section.

Sharing inspiring songs to play at the Teen Identity Extravaganza.

Here are the three strategies I’m using to keep us all on track:

  1. Detailed Agenda: numbers, bullet points and space to add names of who is responsible for each project.
  2. Action Notes: each girl received a pen and a brightly colored polka dot note to write down her action items.
  3. Action Declaration: before we closed the meeting, each girl read her list out loud to make sure nothing was forgotten.

One of the best parts of the meeting today was hearing how each girl recorded the action, i.e. Tuesday = chocolate and cookies. Now that is a fun action item if I’ve ever heard one! I’m hopeful that we will stay on track and be prepared for each of our commitments so we can reduce stress and enjoy the process.

Quick photo opp of one of the girls who got her arm stuck in the Pringles can!

These meeting ideas were inspired by my reading of Scott Belsky’s new book release, Making Ideas Happen. The premise of the book is that creative professionals need less inspiration and more action. By focusing on and having a bias toward action, we begin the process of bringing our ideas to life instead of just dreaming, talking and brainstorming about them.

How do you keep track of commitments and responsibilities to make sure action happens?

I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions!

Technical Knowledge and Images: Canon 5D manual and images by tasra365 photogs on Twitter Tuesday.