Senior Photos: AJ and the Contagious Smile


I’ve gotten to know AJ and his family over the years, at first from a distance working for our neighborhood publication and then via marching band carpool and band events. Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed photographing the Sound of West Side marching band at football games, their March-a-Thon fundraising event, and homecoming. Once I got home after these events and pulled up all the images, it seemed like there was always an amazing one of AJ and his great smile. A contagious smile! So when his mom Joanna reached out to me this summer and asked me to take his senior photos, I was thrilled!

The Gramas were up for anything for their session, which is always fun, so we started in Downtown Lafayette on a perfect October evening. AJ plays the saxophone, so I thought it would pair nicely with some exposed brick, bright murals, and alley ways. We begged him to play for us somewhere in an alley off Main Street, but sadly he thought we were quite crazy (ha! I don’t know why!) and instead did some awesome posing for photos. And again, there was that contagious smile!

AJ mentioned before his shoot that his family had often visited Happy Hollow Park growing up, so after he rocked it downtown, we headed to the park. As the fall light faded, we got some great photos of him and his family on the bridge and trails. I snapped away as they posed, bantered, fixed hair, and wiped smudges, and I couldn’t help but laugh behind the camera. The one thing I love about the Gramas is that there is no mistaking that they are a tight trio. The love and humor they share is evident. From the first time I saw photos of them for the neighborhood publication years ago to now photographing them myself, their bond brings tears to my eyes. It truly is a privilege to be a small part of capturing it, and I can’t wait to see all the great things AJ accomplishes as he heads off to college.


Jen Ritchie

I'm a nature photographer who loves capturing beautiful landscapes and wildlife from our yearly trips out West and parks here closer to home.

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