• Moments with Me: love from February

    My favorite month of the year, February, flew by in a flash. In case you missed what’s been happening in my life, here’s an Insta recap.  Come follow me while you’re at it, and don’t forget to follow along with my professional feed (see the nifty little thing on the right over there??)! Stay tuned for some fun giveaways and maybe a free coffee, but you must be a follower to be the first to find out!

    Anyway, my goal to increase the amount of images I took of our day-to-day life seriously increased this month. I even received a copy of our 27th (what??) volume of Chatbooks.  If you haven’t heard of chapbooks yet, you must check them out!  I can’t even tell you how amazing it is to have our life documented with little to no effort on my part — lazy moms unite! I’ve said it a million times … Instagram isn’t just for teens. Moms: you should really come join in on the fun.

    Other highlights of the month include a right on schedule #Icemaggedon 2015. If you don’t live in Texas, let me tell you what happens if even a single icicle is hanging off the roof — we basically close the whole state.  I wrote in my gratitude journal this month that I randomly realized I love Texas weather… it fits perfectly with my spontaneous personality. I love that we busted out the sled and stayed in our pajamas for 48 hours, and then was able to rock my Counting Crows t-shirt (die hard fan forever, no shame) and jeans the next day.  Also of note: my epic bedhead made two appearances – with the most recent being my best ever effort I would say! And yes, I was basically exhausted after that two hour nap.

    Ellie started soccer and ate cookies bigger than her face and decided she likes Chai tea like Momma (as if you couldn’t tell — I realize I’ve turned into one of those people that take pictures of their coffee mug every day – oops).

    Mia Grace did a sweet photo shoot where she is working it so hard, explained to Ellie (in true big-sister wisdom) that ice is not, in fact, “frosting,” as it is not edible, had a date with Zorro (her Valentine horse), practiced her swing to start softball for the first time, and all the while happily let me coach her basketball team for the third year in a row.  This season I realized how much I truly love coaching/ teaching the game of basketball and am now dreaming big that one day I’ll coach some “big” girls — you know, those teenagers I’m always talking about loving so much.

    And even though Mike didn’t make much of an appearance this month (he was gone for a whopping 8 days leaving me to single parent #thestrugglewasreal), he was in fact  present on several of those chai dates to Redefined Coffeehouse (love them, you should, too!)  and he played his ongoing role of “fun parent” while I sat inside during Icemaggedon 2015.  He also was super wonderful and brought me a chocolate donut heart from the new Krispy Kreme that opened up down the street to officially break our Whole 30 diet — well done, sir (I knew I married that guy for a reason… ;) ).


    February Collage


    Here is to more hugs and kisses in other months besides February.


  • Moving Moms: Q & A with Kimberly Trant

    I met Kimberly when I photographed her daughter, Annie, several years ago, and I have since learned what a brilliant woman she is. Kimberly Trant is not only a mom of four (as if that isn’t super-heroic enough), she’s what I call a Momager, and now, an AUTHOR. You guys, she is one of those incredible people that found time in the midst of everything life could throw at her, and strung enough words together to create an entire book. If that doesn’t qualify her as moving, and courageous, and just down-right gutsy, I don’t know what does. (For those of you who haven’t picked up a copy of #hashtagged, you can purchase it online here, and here.) I had the opportunity and the privilege to photograph Kimberly (not-to-mention the MOST fun time during our session), and now I get to share it with you all, plus an exclusive Q & A she agreed to do! So, without further delay…

    Q & A with Kimberly Trant
    Author of #hashtagged


    Q: What were your hopes and dreams as a high school senior?

    A: I grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas where a tornado ripped apart our town while I was in high school. Not long after that, my parents divorced. I think that those two events resulted in a certain reluctance on my part for long-term planning. I truly had no plan.

    It’s hard for young adults today to imagine, but it truly was a different time. We didn’t have visibility to the greater world. Saturday Night Live was the edgiest part of our lives. I suppose my hope and dream was just to go see what was possible.

    Q: Would your 17-year-old self be surprised at your job/career choices?

    A: Oh yeah, big time.

    Q: Why or why not?

    A: I never planned on a career in technology or as a writer. I just seemed to be in the right place at the right time in terms of technology. My mother worked for the Texas Education Agency and brought home one of the early TRS-80s.  If you’ve never heard of that, google it for a laugh. She insisted I learn how to use it. Everywhere I went, it seemed there was new technology to learn and I just rolled with it. I always wanted to be a writer but could never quite see the path forward for that as a career. I think my 17-year-old self would really be surprised to see that I had finally accomplished this.

    Q: As a working mom, what has been your greatest challenge?

    A: My own expectations of perfection. I think that Elsa from Frozen says it best… you just have to learn to “let it go.”

What advice do you give to your children about following their own dreams?

    A: I told them what my father told me, “You can be anything you want to be.” Well, I told them that until my son and daughter-in-law gently told me they were moving to Minnesota with my granddaughter, then I just said “No, J.”

    Seriously, as parents we have one job: Prepare them. This is not just about life and paying the bills and mowing the lawn and working for the man. Prepare them to follow their dreams — whatever this means.

    Q: Where do you hope to be in five years?

    A: I would like to be finished with my day job, writing more, traveling more. I want more time… more time for the little things.

    Q: What are your top tips for keeping home and work life in balance?

    A: Learn to speak up; people can’t read your mind. Let your family know what help you need before the stress overwhelms you (I’m still working on this one).

    Q: When you’re feeling stressed, what helps you unwind?

    A: I have to bang around a bit—do something physical like take a walk, put up the dishes, anything.

    Q: What energizes you?

    A: There are so many things that energize me—knowing that I have helped someone, hearing that someone enjoyed my book, having a meaningful conversation, laughter….

    Q: What is your proudest moment?

    A: This is impossible to say. I have a large family. There are just too many amazing moments where our hearts have overflowed, our laughter has exploded, our hands have reached for each other in the sure knowledge that we will all be there.

    I can say this (it is kind of tied to your first question): In High School, I probably imagined many proud moments in my future that would all be centered around me.  Looking back now, I can tell you this was in no way true.


    Q: When did you first realize you wanted to go into business for yourself (or become an author, etc)?

    A: I’ve always wanted to do this. Fear held me back. After my kids were all out of high school I realized that Ferris Bueller was right, life does move pretty fast. So, I just jumped in and gave it a shot.

    Q: What steps did you take to arrive where you are today?

    A: I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m still a work in progress. I’ve spent the last year learning the most basic aspects of the publishing business. This took some hard lessons learned. However, I do think that now I’m ready to really move forward and turn this into what I would like it to be.

    Q: How do you define success?

    A: One person at a time.
    My book, #hashtagged, is not the kind of book that everyone likes. I think it has a unique niche in terms of readership. I love to hear from anyone that has enjoyed it.

    Q: Has your definition of the word changed since starting your own business?

    A: Not really. Success is personal. It is one person at a time.

    Q: What’s next for your business?

    A: I have struggled with how the publisher priced my book. I am moving forward with self-publishing so I can control more of the process and the price point. It’s kind of scary—fun scary, but still a bit scary nonetheless.
    I’m also playing around with a Young Adult idea—something a bit more marketable to a broader audience. I would love some early readers for that if you have anyone interested!

    Q: What has been your proudest moment as a business owner?

    A: My proudest moment was when my kids and their friends started sending me selfies with my book!

    Q: What is one product or event you’re most excited about?

    A: I’m a guest at Texas A&M’s version of ComiCon—AggieCON! I’m part excited, part terrified!  I have to speak on a few panels and really have no idea what to expect.



    Place to Visit: Stonehenge

    Style Essential: Shoes, shoes, shoes.

    Can’t Live Without: Books

    Read: I read almost anything except biographies. I have a hard time with biographies. If anyone knows of an exciting biography, I would like to hear about it! 

    Is there anything else you’d like to share? Here are my words to live by, shamelessly stolen from Ghandi: “There’s more to life than increasing it’s speed.”

    And here’s a sample of the session I had with Kimberly with the purpose of getting a natural and timeless headshot for her book. I think she looks smart, approachable and beautiful! I loved our time together so much.


    IMG_01_WEB IMG_16_WEB

  • Client Love: Courtney | Grapevine Faith Senior

    I’ve known Courtney since she was a little 7th grader, and not at all excited about family picture day!  I loved her from the moment I met her. Even at thirteen, (is that how old you are in 7th grade?) she was a no-nonsense kind of girl. There was something so honest and authentic about her that I remember adoring … and that I still adore about her to this day.  I also love a good challenge and I remember thinking, “Okay, I like this girl! She’s not going to make it easy for me!” Because there was no hiding the fact that over the top, warm and fuzzy were excluded from her bank of emotions about pictures with mom and dad – and she was not the least bit concerned with pleasing this stranger photographer by pretending to be excited.

    And, I mean, I really don’t blame her!

    My parents totally have my 12 or 13 year old self immortalized on the living room wall. There I am, braces and before the invention of the flat iron. Let’s just say, you could call me Mufasa, for real.

    There’s no pretense with Courtney and she’s the kind of friend you’d want to have. She is loyal and courageous and resilient and I could not have been more honored to have had the privilege to photograph her gorgeous self.

    I hope you love her images as much as I do … Meet my friend, Courtney (and her furry pal, Tucker, too).

    IMG_01_WEB     IMG_09_WEBIMG_17_WEB IMG_26_bw_WEB IMG_27_WEB

    And her pup, Tucker! He’s almost as pretty as his momma…


    This dress was too fabulous for words and Courtney rocked. it.

    IMG_43_bw_WEB IMG_45_WEB


    (I really can’t get over what a smiley-happy guy Tucker is. A perfect match for such a smiling beauty!)

    It’s sessions like Courtney’s that remind me of why I love capturing who seniors are: their heart and their spirit. I’m so thankful Courtney and her family trusted these special memories to me, and I can’t wait to see how her plans for the future unfold, change, and grow as she does. Love and love to this sweet human.


  • Love You A Latte: DIY Latte Recipe

    We have a lot of love for our clients, friends, and clients-turned-friends here at Love, Me Photography. How much love, you ask? A latte of it. Literally.

    Earlier this week we talked about three ways mommas can give an extra dose of love to their high school seniors this Valentine’s Day. Keeping with that theme (since, you know, the big day isn’t TOO far behind us), we’re sharing a fun recipe that just might make you kiss Starbucks goodbye! For this week, at least.


    Adapted with love from this mocha recipe by Mommy’s Kitchen and this syrup recipe from Annie’s Eats.


    • 2/3 cup whole milk (or milk substitute, such as almond milk)
    • 1/2 cup espresso or strong brewed coffee
    • 1/2 cup white chocolate baking chips
    • Whipped cream (for topping)

    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • ¾ – 1 cup raspberries


    1. Brew a pot of strong coffee or bold espresso.

    2. As coffee is brewing, combine syrup ingredients (sugar, water, and raspberries) in a small saucepan. Stir the mixture occasionally as it cooks over medium-high heat, continuing to stir until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove raspberry solids. Set syrup aside.

    3. As raspberry syrup is simmering, combine milk and white chocolate chips in a separate saucepan or double boiler and heat until chips have melted and milk is hot.

    4. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of milk mixture into a large coffee mug and combine with 1/2 cup of hot coffee or espresso. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of raspberry syrup, then top your White Chocolate Raspberry Latte with a dollop of whipped cream! (You totally deserve it.)

    5. To store excess syrup, pour into a glass container (such as a mason jar or empty olive oil dispenser) and refrigerate.

    And that’s it, y’all! Make, sip, repeat, and be sure to let us know how your latte experiment goes in the comment section!

    Love You A Latte
  • LMP Radio: A Valentine’s Day Playlist

    I love music. I especially love music you can feel, and music that maybe even makes you want to dance.

    Does anything make you catch “the feels” better than the perfect soundtrack?

    In honor of this annual day of love, I put together (more than) a few songs to set your day to. There’s a little something for everyone — from Jack Johnson to Ray La Montagne, and even some artists you may not have heard of before. And don’t worry, it’s not all love and unicorns. I added a few songs that’ll make your toes tap and your hips swing, because sometimes you just have to laugh while you dance around the house or in the car at that red light.

    This playlist doesn’t need anymore commentary from me, so go ahead and turn the volume up, feel the love, and maybe share it with your loves.


    (p.s.- Isn’t Holli Foster adorable? I couldn’t resist sneaking this photo from her session into the very first LMP Radio post!)

  • Three Ways to Show Your Child Love This Valentine’s Day

    “Making the decision to have a child—it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” Elizabeth Stone


    [our family photos: Feather and Twine]

    Well, this blog has just gotten underway and I’m already crying . . . and I have a feeling that the rest of you mommas can relate to this quote, too! Perhaps none understand it more, though, than the mom of a high school senior who’s watching her “heart” prepare to walk out of her door and into his or her own future.

    I’ve photographed seniors for long enough to know that the following is true: 18-month-old babies that walk like penguins grow into confident and college bound 18-year-old young adults seemingly overnight. I don’t know how it happens, but I’ve heard all about how it feels and what it looks like when it does. “Time flew! It all went by so fast! Who is this six-foot-something athlete and what has he done with my little boy?”

    Whether we like it or we fight it, all of our babies are going to leave the nest. The good news? Thanks to the love I’ve seen countless Love, Me mommas pour out upon their kiddos, those toddlers-turned-teens are going to take flight with boldness, preparation, and a deep sense of security. That being said, let’s brainstorm some ways to lavish a few extra doses of love on your senior sweetheart this Valentine’s Day!


    For those precious daughters, how about a Valentines’ Day “Party in a Box?” This easy DIY goes a little something like this:

    • Decorate a box with cute wrapping paper—animal print is always fun!
    • Snag a few “throwback items” (like those Valentine’s Day cards she handed out in second grade) that she can share with her friends. Trust me—these things become cool again as they get older.
    • Get crafty! Include a stack of doilies and colorful paper that she can use to make Valentine’s cards for friends, a boyfriend . . . maybe even mom and dad?
    • Love is sweet, and so are cupcakes. Add Valentine’s-themed cupcake holders, a tasty cake mix, icing, and sprinkles so that the two of you can do some oven lovin’ together.
    • Because you love her so much, throw in a gift card to Sephora or Ulta so that she can stock up on hair and makeup essentials. If you’d rather buy the items yourself, click here to view some of our favorite products!


    For that handsome son who can never get his fill from your fridge, think about ordering the Valentine’s assorted mini cupcake gift set from Sprinkles. More of an ice cream guy? eCreamery is offering Valentine’s gift sets that sound completely irresistible (and I’m thinking they taste like it, too). Who cares if the first ice cream in your order arrives after the 14th? Consider this the gift that keeps on giving.

    Last but not least, here’s an idea that saves on cash (because who’s not thinking about college tuition right about now?). Go back to a tried-and-true tradition from when they were in elementary school: Valentine’s Day breakfast. Have some heart-shaped pancakes ready before they whiz out the door and prop up your own handmade Valentines Day card listing the 14 things you love most about your senior sweetheart. What child doesn’t LOVE words of affirmation (even if they’re accompanied by that “Oh, Mom” look)?

    And just in case you need a little poem to go with the card you made . . .

    Roses are RED, Violets are BLUE; here are a few things I’ve gathered for you.
    It’s mainly made up of good things to eat; because life’s too short not to enjoy a sweet treat.
    I know this is corny but that’s okay by me; one day you’ll do this for YOUR kids, just wait and see!

    Really, what’s not to love about love? Go, mommas! You’ve got this one covered because no one knows how to love like you do!

    A free downloadable Valentine’s Day card that you can print at home. Because I figure I’m not the only one who hasn’t made it to Hallmark yet.


    Valentine's Card

  • Hello, Gorgeous! Free DIY Beauty Guide + Tips From The Styling Stewardess

    You know those (admittedly helpful) articles that promise you an absolutely free gift, but only if you make it through the entire thing first? Yeah… this isn’t one of those articles. I love my seniors and our time together so much that I want to provide you all with the tools to help your brilliant self shine. That’s why I’m giving you my COMPLETE STYLE GUIDE right now, absolutely FREE. For tips about makeup, hair, wardrobe selection, and shopping locales, enter your email address above—you’ll receive LMP’s Complete Style Guide as a digital download when you do!

    Style Guide

    (But hang with me; I teamed up with my good friend Kaleigh Simons, aka The Styling Stewardess, and we have some fun insights and a few examples of what a session perfectly styled and tailored to you can look like.)

    You are beautiful. Did you know that?

    You’re unique, and crazy-talented, and a hard worker, and an amazing friend, and I can’t wait to bring out all of those aspects of your personality with my camera during our senior session.   Just thought I’d let you know those things up front, because we’re talking about all things beauty-related today (fun!) with Kaleigh. She is an on-location stylist based in Dallas, and putting her tips and tricks to use will definitely contribute to the overall quality of your photographs. But no matter what hairstyle you choose or what kind of makeup you decide to apply (maybe a red lip à la Taylor Swift?), know that the best way to rock your Love, Me Photography shoot is by being perfectly, beautifully you—whatever that looks like! Now, let’s get down to beauty business. 




    with Kaleigh Simons of The Styling Stewardess

    Q: First things first: How much makeup should girls wear for their LMP photo shoot?

    A: “Makeup should be a little heavier than normal, as ‘everyday’ makeup won’t show up as well in pictures.”

    Q: Which products are no-nos when it comes to senior portraits?

    A: “If you normally use moisturizer, leave it out of your routine when getting ready for your pictures. For your foundation or base, don’t use anything with SPF in it—SPF reflects light, so it will make you look shiny in your pictures. Bronzer and blush are both great, but make sure that you use both products correctly. Bronzer should be lightly applied all over the face and under the cheekbones, closer to your hairline. Use blush just where sunlight would hit your face—a little on your chin, the tip of your nose, center of your forehead, and a decent amount on the apples of your cheeks. When applied correctly, the combination of bronzer and blush will give you an all-over glow and a little contouring.”

    Q: How about the “definite yes” products that every girl should have in her bag?

    A: “Illuminating powder. Use it as an overlay after all of your makeup has been applied to make sure everything is blended—this will give you a flawless glow and great skin! You can also take this with you to the photo shoot for touch-ups. And don’t forget your lips! Pick a color that is close to your natural shade. You do want your lips to have color, but this isn’t necessarily the time to try bright shades if you don’t normally wear them. You want to look like yourself in your senior pictures, so use products that subtly and naturally enhance your features.”

    LMP Product Love:  Tarte “Smooth Operator” Clay Finishing Powder (Ulta, $32)

    tarte finishing powder

    Q: What’s an important feature that every senior girl should highlight in her photos?
    A: “Your eyebrows are just as important as the other features on your face, so why would you neglect them? Put in some practice time before your photo shoot and play with shadowing them and giving them some shape. This can really enhance your eyes! It’s also great if you didn’t have time to get your eyebrows waxed.”

    LMP Product Love: Anastasia Beverly Hills “Bold Brow” Lot (Ulta, $36), Maybelline Define-a-brow Pencil (Ulta, $6.99)2015-02-06_0006

    Q: Senior year doesn’t allow time for a lot of sleep. What’s the best way to cover under eye circles?

    A: “Use concealer that’s at least a shade or two lighter than your skin tone, and apply it under your eyes, on the outside of your eyes, and all the way down to your nostrils. This will also help to enhance your cheekbones and give you a flawless look!”

    LMP Product Love: Revlon “Photo Ready” Concealer (Ulta, $10.50)

    revlon photoready concealer

    Q: How much is too much when it comes to eye makeup? What are the best products to use, and how should they be applied?

    A: “When it comes to eye shadow, don’t be afraid to try some color. For example, try orange! It might sound crazy, but it creates a bronzy look that’s youthful and fresh…plus it will help the glow of your summer tan last through the fall and winter. Eyeliner is a product that you don’t want to apply too heavily—a little will enhance your eyes, but a lot will make them look sunken in. Try lining your top eyelid completely, but stop halfway on your bottom lid. Smudging the lines will make it look more natural. For lashes: If you’ve never tried false lashes before, don’t let your senior pictures be the first time! Give yourself time to practice beforehand, and if you like the look, be sure to measure your lid and trim your falsies to fit prior to applying. This will make a huge difference! After your false lashes are on, coat with mascara for a natural finish.”

    Q: Any final tips?

    A: Practice applying your makeup before your photo shoot, and take a few selfies in natural sunlight to see how your look translates on camera. When the big day comes, you’ll know exactly what to do!”

    Want to use Kaleigh’s on-location styling services on the day of your photo shoot? Click here  to contact her about availability.


  • Moments with Me – A look back at January


    This January (or the New Year in general), I’ve been hearing God tell me to simplify… in every area including food and beyond.  It turns out that when I went to grab photos from Instagram for this month’s review, I realized I’d seriously “simplified” those too – whoops! I’m making a mental note to take more photos in February. Not every form of simplifying should mean reduction, but instead giving more unobstructed attention to what matters.

    I have shared before that I use Instagram as a virtual and easy scrapbook to remember the details, the change, and the growth that happens almost unnoticeably. Moms, if you’re not using Instagram, hopefully the bed head, and the two beautiful girls (I’m totally and shamelessly biased) that take up almost every space of my personal account will inspire you to become an “Instagrammer.”

    I’ll be sharing highlights here once a month from my personal account – bed head and sweet girls abundant – with you all. I’ll also be featuring peaks and previews on the Love, Me Photography account, too. You can follow along (you know, once you get set up and master the art of the selfie!) @LoveMePhotography and if you want to follow me personally you can do that @CrystalDelaHoz.

    Here’s a glimpse at what January looked like for me…

  • LMP Love Dare: The Lunchbox Letter Challenge

    Think back to that first day of kindergarten. Your child pressed in close against your side, shy and a little uncertain about all the newness ahead. One little hand was clutching yours. The other was holding the handle of a lunchbox. Inside, there was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (yes, peanut butter—this was before the banned-due-to-nut-allergies era). It was trimmed of crust and stamped by a cookie cutter into the shape of a heart, then slipped into a plastic baggie decorated with three words written in Sharpie: “I love you.” You held it together through the drop-off line, but gave into the tears and the sobs and the where did time go? reminiscing as soon as your hands hit the steering wheel.


    First day of school


    Your baby was growing up. Mid-afternoon naps had been replaced by reading lessons and playground games away from home. When you finally pulled out of the parking lot, though, you comforted yourself with this thought: at lunchtime, thanks to a note written on a sandwich bag, your child would be reminded that they were loved. [Click to Tweet] They would still know that mommy cared, even if she wasn’t sitting at the lunch table. So you made the drive home…and the next morning, you woke up to a high school senior running out the door while shouting about off-campus lunch at Chick-fil-A, soccer practice after school, and a have-to-have-it homecoming dress you’re guessing is at least three inches too short and a hundred dollars too expensive.

    This is senior year. This is the crème-de-la-craziness of life. This is “busy schedule” personified for both you and your child. In the midst of all that, I’d like to encourage you to make time for lunchbox moments. Actually, I’d like to take it a step further than that—I dare you to love your child like you did when they were in kindergarten. [Click to Tweet] To put a sticky note on his backpack. To tape a love letter to her mirror. To make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crust cut off that’s stamped into the shape of a heart, with the words “I love you” written in Sharpie on a plastic baggie. To encourage, to build up, and to equip them for that moment in college when they’re sitting in the middle of a crowded cafeteria and feeling totally alone…yet totally sure that they have a rock-solid support system back home.

    The lunchbox letter dare is a challenge to maximize moments. It’s a reminder that senior year isn’t over yet, and you still have a fabulous opportunity to impact your child’s life on a regular basis. [Click to Tweet] How can you show some good, old-fashioned mom love today?


    Love notes


    Taking the dare? Share tips and ideas with other moms on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook by using the hashtags #LMPlovedare and #lunchboxletters.

    Lunchbox Love Letter
  • Savvy Senior: Three Keys to a Stand-Out College Application

    Can you believe it? Winter is almost over… Or at the very least, Spring is in sight! Either way you look at it, it’s still cold outside. By this point, I’m betting that some of you senior early birds have already wrapped up your first batch of college applications and may even have a major decision—pun intended—to make in just a few weeks! Others of you are in the final stretch of narrowing down your school selections, wrapping up essays, and anxiously anticipating the decision letters of the spring. If you’re a member of Group B (or a high school sophomore or junior that’s totally ahead of the game), today’s post is just for you! So without further ado—because really, we both know that you’re insanely busy—I give you…

    Love, Me Photography’s Three (tried and true) Keys to a Stand-Out College Application.

    1. Ready, Prep, Go: Before you even think about digging into that blank college application, set aside time to do a little grunt work—and by grunt work, I mean “recalling all of your past achievements and compiling them onto a single resumé.” If you’re carrying the title of Fourth Grade Student of the Year, it’s probably okay to leave that one off the list. But anything and everything that happened from your freshman year of high school forward—cheerleader of the year, student of the week, debate club president, UIL journalism recognition, “Most Likely to be America’s Next Great Novelist” nomination—should be typed out and organized by year. Non-scholastic achievements are also important to note. Did you win a magazine’s writing contest? Have you held an after-school job? Are you addicted to running 5K races (or to the granola bars and bananas they hand out at the finish line)? Believe it or not, these details can be just as important to colleges as your class rank and GPA, because they allow the Admission Committee to get a well-rounded picture of who you are as a person, not just as a student.
    2. The Write Stuff: Okay, so you hate English class, you’re planning on majoring in math, and you avoid grammar lessons like the plague. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you still don’t get a free pass to blow off your college essays. Even if you have a super-high GPA, you can’t submit a sub-par writing sample and cross your fingers that the acceptance letter you’ve been praying for will simply plop into your mailbox. (Well, I guess you technically can, but trust me, it’s not a good idea.) If writing is not your thing, consider hiring a tutor to lead you through some exercises in thinking outside of the box. Admission Committee members read tons of essays. Yours is most likely to catch their attention if it employs creative language, a unique voice, solid grammar, and perfect syntax.
    3. Group Mentality: Colleges want to know where and how you’re going to fit into their already-existing student body. So put yourself on campus (mentally, that is), and show that Admission Committee exactly how you’ll fit into the group. Use specific examples and action verbs to really get your point across. For instance… “I’d love to continue building on the leadership skills I gained in high school by joining a sorority and helping plan philanthropy events.” “I was an active member of YoungLife at my high school, and I look forward to participating in on-campus Bible studies.” “I was a trombone section leader in my high school band, and I can’t wait to audition for the OU marching band. Performing at a National Championship game is a lifelong dream!”

    There you have it! These methods are sure sure to get you into one (if not all!) of the schools of your dreams! When those acceptance letters start rolling in, feel free to take a photo and tag @lovemephotography on Instagram with #savvysenior. I’m excited to celebrate your hard work and success with you!