Chelsea Writes About Her Senior Session Experience

Going above and beyond in life can seem difficult, and even sometimes tiring. But have you ever regretted putting in the extra effort? No, because it is always that additional effort that separates your work from being average to excellent. Everyone, let me introduce you to Jay Philbrick, the man who gives a whole new meaning to the word dedication.

I first heard about Jay and Philbrick Photography from a fellow classmate who had done her senior photos with him. In awe, I scrolled through the pictures that she had posted onto Facebook. They were exceptional! Everything from the sharpness of the subject image to the softness of the background was amazing. I called my mom into the room to show her these wonderful pictures and see if I could possibly do a session. But after just buying me a pair of brand new skis, she did not want to hear about paying for a photo session. However, being the strong-willed daughter that I am, I made her promise to let me do a session for my senior photos. Of course she gave in, being the loving, accommodating mom that she is!

I contacted Jay to let him know that I was interested and I immediately  received an enthusiastic email back saying that he was so excited to work with me. He gave me precise advice on what to wear, what to bring, where and when to meet, etc. As the date of my photo shoot got closer, Jay messaged me and said that the weather did not look promising for the day of my session. He suggested that we still meet up to do studio work and we would shoot the outside shots another day. Now that was the first sign of his dedication to his craft coming into play. What other photographer would agree to split your session into two segments just to get the shots you want?

My mom and I went to his house, where he has an incredible home studio. We immediately got right to business. Besides the silly “photo shoots” I have done with my friends, this was my first photo shoot with a true professional, which definitely made me kind of nervous. But Jay’s easy going attitude, natural posing, and cool photo ideas put me at ease right from the get go. He had a large selection of clothes that I could choose from, as well as cool props and jewelry to compliment what I had. I was having so much fun during this shoot that I was able to completely relax and look natural which really helped my photos to look great.

Also, his house is set up perfectly for senior photo sessions. It has big windows everywhere allowing spectacular light to come in from different angles. The light could be soft or dramatic depending on the time of day and where he posed me. There is also balcony where he can shoot some unique setups. At one point I was lying on the floor in a big fluffy bridal gown spread out around me on top of a huge studio background while he was photographing from directly above. Totally didn’t see that one coming! After taking a few images in one outfit, he would say, “Okay, now get another outfit on.” He was constantly changing up positions, scenes, outfits, looks, lighting, and cameras which allowed us to figure out what looks we loved. We loved a lot of them!

After we were done with the studio session we all went through the files together on the studio’s impressive monitor and picked out our favorites. He then edited one of them to perfection right in front of us! The editing process is really neat; it may even be my favorite part! It was unreal to see all the steps he went through on the computer to transform an already great image into an amazing one. I got the total cover girl treatment!

On our second day we met at 5:30 am on top of Cathedral Ledge in North Conway. If Jay’s dedication to his craft wasn’t obvious to me before, it certainly was now. Pre dawn starts hurt! We caught the most spectacular sunrise that I have ever seen, the sky cast an intense fiery red and orange glow. Jay used this amazing sunrise as a beautiful backdrop for some very dramatic and unique portraits of me. Well worth getting up in the middle of the night!

After an hour or so on top of the ledge, we traveled to a river where I jumped over streams, posed on rocks, and even got in a stream in an urban type environment, if you can imagine that, out in the middle of nowhere! After multiple outfits, poses, and looks in the river area, we ventured off to our next location, the cave. At first, my mom and I had to make sure we heard him correctly, and sure enough we had. We were going to a cave. Jay had me put on my “edgiest” outfit (Jay said edgy, my mom though he said sketchy!) and then we crawled into this crazy dark cave. I felt like I was in Pirates of the Caribbean, without the zombie-pirates of course. It was one of the neatest experiences. How many seniors can say that they have modeled in a cave?

Back at his house, we went through all the files from day two, and I couldn’t help but smile the entire time. When viewed at full size on the studio’s monitor, the photos simply took my breath away. What I saw on the monitor was nothing like what I thought the images would look like when he was setting the shots up and taking them. I couldn’t see “the vision” of the image until I saw them on the monitor. Then, Wow! The effort was so worth it: the early morning, the hard poses, the scary cave. Jay pushes himself hard to create distinctive senior portraits. He’ll push you hard as well. You should let him!

Jay really goes the extra mile to ensure his seniors get beautiful and unique senior photos. I was taken by a complete surprise on my first day with Jay. His sessions go way beyond just standing in a pretty place and smiling at the camera. I had no idea that he would go to the extent that he did. All the studio gear, the lighting he used on location, the incredible and some hard to find places went used, the list goes on. He has an appreciable love for photography, for his craft, and I admire him for that. For those who are considering doing a session with Jay Philbrick; you will be entering into a world of magnificent photography! I thank you for everything Jay, the great portraits and an unforgettable experience. I am honored to be your senior representative.

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