Meet Luaren: You have probably seen her images grace my Facebook many times, and if you have ever poked around my website you will see ever updating images of this stunner. She's a beautiful woman who is full of grace and poise. She's a high school senior, a swimmer, a cowgirl, a rodeo queen. I love the way she approaches her life with excitement and genuine happiness to just be in the moment. When you are talking to her, you get the feeling that there is no where else that she'd rather be than in this moment, having this conversation or doing this activity. You would never know how crazy busy her life is because the people in her life are infinitely more important.
As I sit and edit her photos session after session I can't help but feel incredibly nostalgic and see her as a baby in the swing on her family's back porch, or a toddler giggling like crazy while her dad lays on his back and bench presses her and my little sister. I see the little girl who used to scream in glee Booster head! at my older brother. But back then I never imagined what she would mean to me.
As she grew older, she stopped being just my little sister's friend and became a person I genuinely cared about as a friend. I taught her to ride a horse. She was the my second student. I simply loved teaching her and getting to know her during those lazy summer days. I remember with great clarity riding with her through the fields as she told me all her childhood hopes and dreams for the future and praying that no one would stand in her way.
Then she got her own horse and our teacher-student relationship starting to fade away. She joined 4H and I began my photography career photographing her on that dream-come-true horse.
I will never forget that moment, half a world away sitting in a cafe and reading that her dream horse had died. My heart broke for her and I hoped she wouldn't give up on the dream.
When I came home again she had decided to try out to become a rodeo queen for the first time. I got to be there and capture the horse portion of the competition (she won of course :-D). It was one of the proudest moments of my life knowing that someone I taught to ride had surpassed me in ability.
Her becoming queen gave me the first opportunity to take paid photos. Anyone who is a photographer knows just how much this stands out in your memory. That first time someone likes your pictures enough to PAY you to do it for them. Its a really big deal. It totally sold me on being a photographer (without providing me with any way of becoming one)!
So it was another 3 years, new cameras and a lot of gained knowledge before she was in front of my camera as a senior representative, which launched this incredible last year of becoming reacquainted with my wonderful friend.
Lauren is one of those people in my life that I am incredibly grateful for and overwhelmingly blessed by having her in my life. She's one of those rare people that you share a dream with and she comes back with 20 reasons why she believes in you. One of those friends that you don't always see, don't always talk to, but are always overjoyed to hear from.
I can't wait to see what God has in store for her as she heads off to college. I'm hoping to revisit old times with some action shots of her living her rodeo life this weekend! Be sure to check back for pictures!