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Senior Portrait Photography – Getting Wet, Unexpectedly

Why We Don’t Turn Our Back On the Ocean…

Regardless of What Your High School Senior Portrait Photographer Asks of You!
Sometimes the simple lessons of life are learned the hard way. How often have you heard the warning that you should never turn your back on the ocean? Evidently not often enough for this midwest high school senior. Then again, why should she? The last time I checked, there weren’t that many oceans in Minnesota…

High School Senior Portrait Session

High School Senior Coming Up For Air

Though the primary focus of my portrait studio is family portraits and headshots for business and the arts, I still create several dozen high school senior portraits every year. Surprisingly, a good percentage of my senior portrait are from seniors out of state. While most of my high school seniors coordinate a visit to sunny California with their senior portrait session, a few of them fly out solely for their senior portrait. Such was the case with this lovely senior, whom we shall call Tina.

I received an email from Tina stating she had looked high and low for a good senior portrait photographer in Orange County. She had finally settled on me after visiting my Orange County Senior Portrait Website. Her only concern was price.

As it so frequently happens, potential clients see my senior portrait portfolio and the first thought that comes to them is that I must be expensive. The one’s that call me, like Tina, are not only pleasantly surprise with how affordable our senior portraits are but that they talk with me directly and that I am personally involved in every detail, planning and creation of their senior portrait.

Tina told me that what initially drew her to look at my senior portrait website was the tag line she saw in the Google web search description: “Anything But Ordinary.” She was soon to find out how accurate our slogan is.

The day of Tina’s session was exceptionally gorgeous. We scheduled to meet at my favorite spot in Laguna Beach about 45 minutes before sunset. After spending a few minutes to get to know one another and talk about the plan for her senior session, we quickly got rolling.

Though the light was warm and inviting, with not a cloud in the sky I had to pay special attention to controlling the specular light quality, which can be seen in Tina’s senior portrait below left. The actual shadow was darker in the raw file, but lessened the contrast in postproduction (got to love Lightroom).

High School Senior Portrait Session

High School Senior Portrait Session at the Beach by Mark Jordan Photography

As the sun began to set, and with Tina’s first two outfits behind us, she wanted put on her white gown and do something fun. This means moving closer to the water. Tina assured me that she didn’t mind getting her dress a little wet, which freed us to to be a bit crazy and take a few risks.

We began nice and easy with a few full lengths at the water’s edge. It wasn’t long before the white water splashes began to soak Tina’s skirt, with which she was comfortable.

Wanting to the late setting sun to highlight her face more than her gown front, I asked her to turn around. Just as she did, a sudden surge billowed about her knees – Tina sparkled all the more.

After a few full-lengths I wanted to capture a few three-quarters and closeups, and began to walk toward Tina. As I did, I noticed the water being sucked out all around Tina and the ocean behind her rise abruptly. Seeing that a rogue wave had reared is unpredictable head, I shouted “RUN!”

However, rather than making a hasty dash for shore, Tina turned to see about what I was screaming so hysterically. It didn’t take her but fractions of a second to realize there would be no time to turn back. She quickly pinched her nose, braced her body for the tonnage of water about to smack her, and met it head on.

The following sequence of images tells the story.

High School Senior Portrait at the Beach

At her Senior portrait session, High School Senior learns why she shouldn’t turn her back to the ocean, regardless of what is asked.

The wave swiftly passed and Tina popped up. Her thin strap was no match for the water’s force. My camera quickly dropped to my side in reflex fashion, not even for a moment did my instincts consider capturing the moment. Once she recovered and found her bodice, I was able to resume her senior portrait “coverage.”

Though she may appear to by stunned, Tina bounced back laughing and in great spirits. Nothing phased her in the least. As to this Minnesota girl’s long awaited Senior portrait session in Laguna Beach, it was a fait accompli.


Mark Jordan
Master Craftsman Photographer
American Society of Photographers
International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum
Orange County Photographer of the Year
3-Time Honoree -EPCOT’S World’s Greatest Photographers Exhibit


When looking for a professional Orange County Family Portraits photographer, or Orange County Headshots Photographer please call 949-888-8071 or complete our online request form.


Senior Portrait Photography

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