Before you know it, your precious baby has grown up right before your very own eyes. One day you’re chasing after them as they embark on their first run with those little feet and then the next you are receiving information about graduation caps and gowns. I’m currently trying to navigate my own feelings as my daughter, Olivia, is an upcoming Senior! While I am very excited for her, I find myself asking, “How did it all happen so fast?!”.
One of my favorite sessions to photograph are Senior Portraits because I get the opportunity to capture the cusp between childhood and adulthood that these talented young people experience. I am rewarded once more when I get the family together for their viewing and display the photographs – because the expressions of surprise, love and admiration are the greatest bonus I could receive.
I love seeing how each Senior chooses to express themselves during their session with their body language, the locations we go to, their clothing, and any props or important items they choose to add into their session. It gives me a glimpse into who they are and an idea of the kind of incredible future they will have. I have had students bring their baseball bats, footballs, guitars, skateboards, art supplies and surfboards to incorporate into their portraits and we always find fun and interesting ways to utilize their prized possessions to make their portrait unique. I am so thankful for the moment when they let their guard down and I capture the portrait where they are completely relaxed and comfortable because, that ends up being the one they love the most.
Senior Portraits are also a great opportunity to capture the family as it stands at that moment before they go off to college. There is so much that can happen in a year that it’s important to take photographs of everyone together before internships, relationships, and other life events pull people in different directions. I offer FREE family portrait sessions to every family that books a senior portrait session.
As the school year comes to a close, I am so proud of the Graduating Class of 2018. I know that you have an incredible future waiting for you and I am excited to see all that you will accomplish over the next four years. If you haven’t had your portraits done already, it isn’t too late to get some portraits done to commemorate this incredible moment in your life.
Looking ahead to the Graduating Class of 2019, I am excited to capture this year’s moments with Seniors and their families. I am currently offering a Senior Summer Session deal that is CRAZY and I know you won’t want to miss it.
Devon Shanor Photography is evolving once again with the addition of my new Office Manager and Marketing Coordinator, Becca Kajouras. She is a wonderful asset to the team, adding creative and new ways to organize my business space and market my portrait sessions.
Becca recently worked for the local SPCA where she helped find animals their forever homes helping to make families feel complete with their four-legged friend. It was there that she became interested in Marketing after helping to photograph some of the animals for the SPCA’s website. She’s currently finishing up a Bachelors degree in Psychology at Norfolk State University with a plan to pursue a Masters program in the future. In addition to working for Devon Shanor Photography and finishing up her degree, Becca is a single mom to her son, Wesley. Together, they have three dogs (Dakota, Lucy, and Winter) and a large tank full of fish! In her spare time, Becca enjoys painting, reading with her son, spending time with her dogs, and cooking.
I’ve asked her to answer a few questions so everyone can get to know her. I know you’re going to love her as much as I do!
What is your favorite color ? I love the color Green.
What is your favorite food? Give me Tacos or Home-made Greek food any day.
What is something silly you’d like to share?
I love to laugh and I love to make the people around me laugh. At home it is never a dull moment, I am always trying to be silly to make my son laugh, smile, or just hang his head in embarrassment. I love to sing and to create made up songs. Recently, I created a breakfast song that we have gotten stuck in our heads. I also enjoy playing Just Dance with my son and I always end up laughing when I mess up on a dance move. I am a Nickname Creator Queen at my house, and everyone has a ton of silly nicknames that we use. The dogs have the most nicknames at this point.
Tell us about yourself:
I love helping others. Ever since I can remember I was that kid that gave away her toys to cheer someone up or did what I could to help another person. I love talking to new people and getting to know someone – it is the highlight of my day. I love spending time with my 8 year old son learning about what he’s into at the moment, right now it’s Dinosaurs, Minecraft, and Cooking. I have 3 crazy dogs; Dakota (my old lady) – she’s going to be 10 this year and has been with me through everything, Lucy (my little bug) – is a rescue I adopted in 2017 after I took her home to help her recover after an orthopedic surgery and fell in love, and Winter (the baby) – is also a rescue adopted in 2017, she’s very smart and sweet and loves to bring me shoes as her way of telling me she needs to go out. I recently got back into painting and feel so much happier that I’m being creative once again.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Northern Virginia and I honestly miss getting on the Metro and going down to visiting the museums – my friends and I used to do that often. We (my son and I) moved to Virginia Beach 5 years ago to be closer to the beach.
Why did you want to work for Devon Shanor Photography?
A few years ago, I asked Devon to do a portrait session of my family (Dakota, Wesley, and I) after I got my Associates Degree. If you know me, you know I am not a fan of being photographed but I loved how Devon made me feel throughout the whole process. Ever since then I’ve stayed in contact with Devon and when she had a position open for Marketing, I knew it was my chance to work for someone I admired and to work toward something I had fallen in love with. I feel that Marketing helps me bridge my love of communication with my creativity.
What will you be doing at Devon Shanor Photography?
I’ve only been with Devon for about a month now and I have done a variety of things including organizing her space, creating marketing material, and coming up with new ideas for the business. Everyday I get up excited because I know I’m going to learn something new and that I’m going to get a new idea. I know I will be doing a variety of things with Devon that goes way beyond Marketing and I am excited to meet all of her new clients and the clients she has had for years.
Welcome to the world sweet baby Devin! Not only did I get to capture portraits of momma’s new munchkin, but I got to capture BEAUTIFUL maternity photos!
Mom and Dad Urie are both in the military, so I would like to take this time and say thank you so much for your service! This couple was an absolute blast to work with. They are so in love and so silly together! There was a lot of laughter and sweet moments while capturing portraits for this lovely family!
I was so excited when I got the call that baby Devin had made his appearance! The little munchkin marches to the beat of his own drum and wasn’t sure how he felt about being the star of the shoot. No matter how he felt he was cooperative and I was able to capture some very sweet portraits for Mom and Dad to keep forever!
Andrea and Jamison thank you so much for allowing me to capture these sweet memories for your little family!
If you’d like to book a newborn or maternity shoot, please feel free to contact me!
Santa Clause made an appearance at the beach this year! The weather was chilly but I’m sure that made Santa feel at home! We had so many great families!
We love when Santa on the beach mini sessions because we get to capture so many beautiful portraits for families and help a family in need. Instead of a session fee we ask that those participating donate a toy for a family who may not get a Christmas this year. We actually over filled a big box of toys for the munchkins we are helping out, how awesome is that!?!?!
We had so much fun with this shoot as you can see below! Each family was super awesome and we were able to capture such great portraits that we love so much and hope you do too!
Stunning. Energetic. Happy. Athletic. Fun. Beautiful. All words to describe the lovely Beca.
We had such a great time on both of our sessions! Why more than one session? Well sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t check with me and she does her own thing! Halfway though our beach session, the wind went CRAZY and Beca’s beautiful hair was everywhere, sand was flying into my camera and we were being blown over!! We just weren’t going to get the beautiful sunset pictures we wanted, so we scheduled a second shoot that thankfully provided a beautiful, windless, sunset.
Beca, I can’t wait to see how your last year in high school goes and what next year holds for you. I haven’t know you long but I do know you are a dedicated, beautiful, hard working soul and I know you will achieve whatever goals you set your mind too! Work hard this year, but enjoy every last minute of high school while you can, you deserve it!
I love this family! We have so much in common with our kids being about the same ages and Christina and I are heading on a mission trip to Ethiopia in just a few weeks! They are such a wonderful loving family and I was overjoyed when Christina called me to capture their family portraits. But then she told me their last family portraits we taken THIRTEEN YEARS AGO! That mean big time pressure for me… this would be their first professional pictures since both Max and Clara had been added to the family!
The day came and God provided us with a beautiful day and an incredible sunset. The kids were excited to take pictures prepared to have some fun! I loved when I was trying to get the kids to smile and told a joke… everyone laughed and Max encouraged me by saying “Good job Devon, just keep the jokes coming and this shoot will be easy!” Lol, what a riot!
One really interesting thing about this shoot was that, they knew they wanted the beach, but were open to whichever beach I choose. I choose First Landing State park as it has great sunsets. Later as we were viewing their images, Christiana told me that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel seen in the background of their images, has a very special place in the start of their family. When they were first married they traveled that bridge weekly as family and work were on opposite sides. To have the bridge in the background of their portraits, 15 years later is pretty memorable… the fact that it happened on accident is just awesome.
Thanks Christina and Frank for creating such an awesome family and allowing ME to create some beautiful images for you to cherish for years to come. Let’s just not wait ANOTHER 13 years til we do the next session! :)
I LOVE this family! I have known Jennifer for years, in fact three years ago we served with each other on a missions trip in Colombia! She is such a sweet, genuine person. I was there to watch her fall in love with Johnny and become mom to the beautiful Cheyenne!
A year ago, they suffered heartbreak when they miscarried their first baby. We were all devastated but knew, somehow, God would heal their hearts and their dreams for growing their family would come true. And then, seven months ago, they DID! I was SO EXCITED to hear Jennifer and Johnny were expecting a baby boy and was honored they chose me to capture this amazing time of carrying him!
Since it’s October, we decided a pumpkin patch was the PERFECT place to start their photo shoot. Jennifer was the most beautiful I have ever seen her and she glowed throughout her session. I loved the vintage pram they brought that they will use with Baby Johnny, and it made for a perfect prop when we moved the session to the woods. Cheyenne did great too and was jumping for JOY as she waits to meet her baby brother!
Thanks Bradley’s for allowing me to capture this extra special time in your lives. I can’t wait to photograph your little man in just a few months!
Life sure isn’t boring around here! No matter how much I wish “normal” was a part of my life, God just has other plans!
Last month I had one of the most terrifying moments in my life happen. Something I NEVER thought would ever happen to me happened. I was at my bank when it was robbed at GUNPOINT! No, I am not making that up. I was casually talking to my teller when she froze as she looked over my shoulders and mumbled “not today” as she immediately locked her drawer and (I assume) pushed an alarm under her counter.
I am kinda naive about things so even when I turned and saw the masked man, I didn’t realize, right away, what was going on. No, it wasn’t until I saw the gun as he jumped up on the counter, did I realize he was robbing the bank!! I am not sure how other people would react in this situation (because believe me, what you THINK you would do and what you really would do, are two different things!) but I froze. As he stood up on the counter and held the gun at one of the tellers, I simply froze and waited for him to tell us what to do. I wanted direction! Do I get on the ground? Run? Cower? Give him my purse? Scream? I needed some direction as I simply stood there in disbelief that this was actually happening.
The older ladies around me needed no direction… they ran! Yep- they just booked it right out of the building. I waited a moment or two and when no gunshot or “Freeze, don’t move” was heard, I realized he was allowing them to leave and ran myself.
This happened on a Saturday morning in broad daylight at a prominent bank in a good area.
Things I realized that day…
1. I make a terrible witness!!! I watched the guy leave the building (as I hid in my car on hold with 911) and get in his car and I still couldn’t tell the police what model car or exact clothing he was wearing. (Yes, my Marine husband teased me about that later. He would have figured out the guys shoe size with his skills of observation!) I was just hoping he didn’t see me and shoot me! I was the only one to see him leave, and even the police officer teased me about being a “key witness” who knew very little!
2. There is no such thing as a “safe place” anymore. If people get desperate, even the nicest neighborhood/businesses can be where terrible things happen. We need to remember this and always be prepared and aware of our surroundings. Sadly, more and more people are seeing the line between “right and wrong” disappear… where if it’s RIGHT for you, then it’s not really that wrong. It’s making living in our world a scary place at times. We don’t need to live in fear, but we do need to be aware of our surroundings.
After the bank robbery, my family and I had many talks about “what to do when…” so my children would know when to run, when to fight back, when to get involved and when to get away. We talked about abductions, robberies, fights, hitchhiking and more. I PRAY nothing like that happens to them (or me!) ever (or again) but in the event it does, I want them to know how to best protect themselves!
3. I have never thanked God so much for a “professional thief” before. As I talked with the police and the other witnesses after the fact, we were all amazed at how calm, cool and collected this man was. He didn’t yell, didn’t get upset when we ran out of the building, didn’t act erratically, etc. The police said he was most likely a professional. While that may make it harder for the police to find him and the bank to gets it’s money back, it made ME so thankful. We all made it out safely and no one was hurt. I am thankful for his calm demeanor. We all, including him, walked away that day uninjured and to me, that is more important than the money he stole.
4. Life can be going along “as normal” and BAM it can change in an instant. So much could have gone wrong that day. I could have been shot. I could have had my kids with me and they could have been injured or emotionally scarred. My life COULD have drastically changed that day. That morning MIGHT have been the last time I had ever kissed my husband or children. Our “normal” average life, could have instantly changed without any notice at all.
It made me think my kids and what life without “mom” would look like. Had I hugged them enough, kissed them enough, tucked them in enough, read to them enough? Was I the BEST parent I could be? Would the love and tenderness outlive in their memories over the discipline and yelling? Had they seen me laugh enough? I am so thankful God allowed me to walk away from that scary situation, but the fact remains that no one truly knows how much time you have left.
My profession, photography takes moments and freezes them in time. It is part of why I love so much what I do. It takes the people you love and FREEZES them forever. So that people for generations to come can remember and even get to know, people they love. I hear people all the time talk about the pictures they have of their loved ones.
“I love seeing this image, it reminds me of how much she loved to laugh!”
“She always made this face when she cried!”
“He loved this red shirt so much!”
“Can’t you see how much the baby looks like grandpa in this picture?”
“This was the last time we were all together. Remember how happy grandma was?”
It makes me so sad when people give excuses for not taking family portraits. Yes, we all wish we were a little thinner or less wrinkled or less grey or more photogenic… but YOU are beautiful to your husband or wife, your kids, your future grandkids. Don’t shy away from the camera, embrace it. If, God forbid, you don’t have many tomorrow’s left… don’t you want to leave your loved ones pictures of you smiling and happy? I recently talked to a young man whose mom passed away when he was a child. He has ONE picture of her. ONE. His mental memories of her are there, but he sometimes struggles to remember her smile, her laugh, her hair. Imagine if she had left behind hundreds of pictures. All different smiles… many different captures of her laughing… lots of images to remember and see her beautiful blond hair. His memories of her would be so much more alive and vibrant.
I don’t say all this to drum up business… come to me or go somewhere else. But, please, take portraits with your family. And not always the posed smile at the camera portraits. Interact with your kids, laugh, be silly, show your laugh lines and grey hair. Be you in front of the camera. If you are married, show the love between you and your spouse. Kiss in front of the camera, be silly, LAUGH together. Create some memories not only to be stored in your brain but also be be stored and cherished and HELD in physical form. A picture truly can freeze a moment and capture it forever. It’s a lesson even I had to learn. I take pictures of my kids all the time, but it’s rare for me to take pictures WITH them. After this robbery scare, I asked myself when the last time I had been photographed with my kids. Thankfully, this summer we took some family portraits at the beach during a mini family reunion. I was so thankful because the one prior to that was a few years ago.
The lessons I learned during and after this robbery, are ones we should all remember and work to live out everyday. Make sure you hug more, yell less, say I love you often and worry less about the small things. Hopefully we all live to be 100, but in the event we don’t, make sure you leave behind a life without regrets and lots of happy memories for the ones who love you!
I love that my little ones are growing up so fast! Mr. Jack is nine months old now!!! Wow, time is flying. Soon we’ll be celebrating walking and turing one!! Check out some of my favorites from his session.
It’s June! Which means two things for this family… Fathers Day and GRADUATION for my husband!!!!!
Yes, I am SOOOOOOOO (yes I that that is a lot of o’s!) excited to announce that my husband is officially a GRADUATE and a Registered Nurse!!!! I am SO proud of him and the long journey to get here!
Today I want to talk about goals and changing your life. So many times we say we aren’t happy or fulfilled in our life, our jobs, our relationships… and, we feel there is not a way to change that. You feel “stuck” and frustrated in that place because the only way to get “unstuck” just doesn’t seem possible. For Brett and I, we lived “stuck” for WAY to many years!
Brett LOVED being a Marine. The camaraderie, the “brotherhood,” the travel, the hard workouts, the striving for excellence… he loved it all. Then, he had a family and the travel, the separation, the risk and danger and saying goodbye to fallen comrades all became too much. He decided to leave the Marine Corps after 10 years and try a new road. However, without a college degree it is difficult to forge a new path in life when your talents are best suited for warfare. Our plan was to leave the military world altogether and find a new path where friends dying and learning better ways to kill your enemy weren’t a part of his job description. BUT we felt “stuck” as I was a stay-at-home mom and he was the only one providing for our family.
He took jobs over the next 9 years working for the military as an intelligence instructor. It was hard. Brett suffered issues related to his own trauma and the guilt he felt teaching young men who ended up going over seas only to die in war. People would often stop and thank him for his service, call him a “hero”, but he simply wanted to “change his stars” and do a job where he felt GOOD about what he had done that day. He wanted to help people. BUT HOW? As a contractor, he was making a very nice living, but after Messay’s adoption and a horrible real estate investment, we had zero savings.
If Brett went to school, how would we survive financially? Four years ago I started this amazing business that I love, but if you know anything about owning your own business… it often takes a few years before you “break even” and start making any money! (The first two years of business EVERY dollar I earned went right back into the business!)
Our marriage was struggling. He was depressed and unhappy. I was feeling neglected and overwhelmed. We wanted to make so many changes but how???
I know you’ve been there! I talked with so many of you who have told me your struggles: how you want a new job but are afraid to walk away from the one you have; you want to go back to school, but what about the two kids you support; you want to change your relationship, but how will you ever fit in marriage counseling or break up with your emotionally abusive boyfriend who helps pay your bills… Simply, you feel “stuck” and have no idea how to get out!
Let me tell you that you CAN DO IT!! And let me also tell you it won’t be easy! It’s hard work… but often the most difficult work is simply making the DECISION to change your life: to go back to school, to quit your job and walk on faith, to set up the marriage counseling… Living out that decision is not quite as difficult.
Brett and I sought help from some amazing counselors for our marriage. We actually separated for a while so Brett could deal with some of the symptoms he was having related to PTSD. It was a difficult time for us both. My business suffered as I emotionally dealt with a separation, a hurting husband, hurting children and a damaged heart. But God got us through, we all did the work and we came back together stronger.
**And then we lived happily ever after. NO… not quite!!! Life isn’t a fairy tale… it’s hard work!**
We felt like we had done enough change for awhile; we were ready for some “normal” and quiet. But God hadother plans! After Brett’s diagnosis and recovery, he had trouble finding work. We lived off unemployment for awhile and I began to push my business as hard as I could. But it still wasn’t enough. (Thank God for wonderful parents who helped us on the tough months just to pay the basic bills!)
In November of 2012, Brett enrolled in MCI to get his RN degree. At the time, we weren’t making enough pay our bills; tuition was $48,000, my business was about to hit it’s VERY slow time (Jan-March), unemployment was about to run out, and we didn’t have healthcare. Brett heading back to school seemed like a great way for him to change his life, but HOW were we ever going to financially make it though the 18-month school?
We decided to walk on faith. God had just healed a marriage that few thought would be able to survive and He was going to help us though the next year and a half.
And here we are landing on the other side. My husband is a GRADUATE! He’s a nurse!!! My business is flourishing and we made it! I learned so very much; here’s the top 10 lessons:
1. Asking for help isn’t something to be ashamed of! People were inspired by what we were doing and often wanted to help! But we had to ask! Sometimes you need to suck up your pride and ASK someone to help you repair your car, cook you a meal or help with carpool! (Remember though, if you ASK for help, you should also make sure you GIVE help, when you can!)
2. Kids are just as happy playing with a found tennis ball as they are with all the newest expensive toys! My kids learned that for awhile, we wouldn’t be able to afford the same gadgets their friends owned. Yes, I have a happy teenager and NO she does not have an IPAD, an IPOD, or a phone.
3. If you communicate with your kids about your financial situation, they will understand! We’ve had lots of discussions in this house about “The Budget” and how we could and could not spend our money while Daddy was in school! Now, they are kids so they will still ask, “Can I get…”, “Can we go to…”, etc. But with lots of communication on “The Budget” before hand, the whining did not last long!
4. Going to a “Food Pantry” is a blessing! Yes, the first time we went, I was slightly embarrassed… until I got in line and realized that on the whole, we’re all in the same boat: hard working men, women and families just needing a little help to get through the month!
5. Discover all the “Kids eat FREE” places in Virginia Beach! We didn’t eat out much this year, but when we did it was almost always a deal!!! Our favorite place was Qdoba in Hilltop where kids eat free on Sundays. Practically every Sunday after church you’d find us there! We could feed our whole family for $20!!
6. If your marriage is strong, you can get through anything!!! Sure, there were times we were more like roommates or ships passing in the night. Just seeing enough of each other to ask how the other was doing and to check on the kids… but since our marriage was strong… we could handle it!
7. My husband is SMART!!!! Wow, do nurses have to know ALOT of information! I didn’t know that before and I know I could never have done this program. So proud of my smarty-pants-hubby for pushing through, getting 2-4 hrs of sleep on average and passing ALL his classes!
8. Prayer works. We asked God to get us through this time and he did! We didn’t pray together EVERY night but we tried. The kids prayed for us, we prayed as a family and we prayed for each other. My business grew, Brett passed his classes, the bills got paid and we MADE IT!
9. I have the BEST clients! A HUGE part of us getting through this year was because of you and your referrals!
10. Faith, Hope and Love. Life’s difficulties can be overcome by these three things! Have Faith God will provide. Hope and believe that the future CAN change… even when it feels in the moment like it can’t. And love. Love at all times. Understand that love isn’t always hugs and kisses, sometimes it’s tough and sometimes it means sticking it out when you don’t even like the other person… but love can overcome all. Learn how to love each other in the tough times and in the good times it will be even stronger and more deep. God says “Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” So obviously, Love is pretty important. I can attest that loving someone through really tough times is HARD but I can also attest that being loved during your tough times is so wonderful. And that the love you have AFTER the tough times is so much stronger, deeper and cherished!
I share all this not to gloat! I share it to encourage you. My marriage was over, my husband was lost, we were about to get kicked off unemployment, we had no health care, we hated the house we were $80K upside down in… we were STUCK. Going to school felt impossible, changing our life felt impossible. But we prayed, we unified together and we took a leap.
YOU CAN DO IT TOO! Even if it seems impossible, it isn’t. If you are unhappy, you CAN do something about it! It is HARD work, but in the end, it’s totally worth it. To see it in action check out these pictures… For those that know my family well… you know Brett doesn’t smile much for pictures and for a few years didn’t smile much AT ALL… but take a look at this… my husband SMILING on his graduation day!