Class of 2018: Rachel Ledbetter


This is definitely not my first photoshoot with this crazy sister of mine, but this one meant a lot more than the others. Rachel is graduating high school this year and plans to join me at Harding next fall — which I couldn't be more excited about. But there is just something different about taking "senior photos" than just saying "Hey, Rach, wanna go out and let me test my new equipment?" 

Through the years of learning and practicing and just wanting to be behind the camera, she has put up with me. Although I hope it played out to her advantage in the long run, I couldn't be more grateful for all the photos I have gotten to take of her over the past several years. Despite that, these are definitely different, and mean more because of the label we have put on them. 

For more details on where we went, what we did and the photoshoot in general, scroll all the way to the bottom.

I hope these photos lived up to your wildest expectations of what your senior pictures might look like when this day finally came, I hope your final semester of high school is one that you will never forget, and I hope you can look back on these pictures in a few years  the way I look back on mine now like a window into this time of your life, reminding you how you felt and where you were at this time of your life. 
If I could give you any advice, I would say savor your final moments in high school. I know at CCS it can get easy to be ready for something new, but here is some advice I got on graduation day from someone we both know and love that I will give you a little early.
Sitting in the back room on the day of high school graduation, right before we were about to walk out in front of what felt like everyone we knew, Dr. Billy Don Crow told my graduating class something to this effect: 
You have spent the last 12 years of your life with these people day in and day out. You know everything about them, but when you walk out of this church today, it is unlikely you will ever all be in the same room all together ever again.
Although then that felt crazy because I spent every day with those people and I was ready for something new, I look back on that day and those people and wonder what they are doing now. Some of them I haven't seen since that day. What I am trying to say is, take advantage of the moments you have left at CCS. You can always come back and walk those halls, but it doesn't feel the same. 
After you savor those moments, take off and grow in the new phase of life that is college. I might be biased, but I would say Harding is a pretty great place to do that. I wish you the best, and I am so beyond excited to witness your first year at Harding from a close distance. Good luck, little sister. 

I was driving home from Searcy one Friday afternoon after classes to be home for the weekend, mainly to take these photos. I was rushing to Conway to beat the clock and get the most out of the best light of the day, but I was also on the phone with Rachel, who was at our house getting ready. In the excitement of the moment and final detail decisions about hair and earrings, I missed my exit. I ended up almost in Little Rock and back in Conway about 20 minutes later than I should have, but it didn't effect us once we got started.

We started in downtown Conway near Pineapple Whip and what used to be the Fish House, where we crossed the road and gathered at an old graffiti train car. We didn't stay there long though because we got anxious that we probably were not supposed to be there. Correction: My dad got anxious and pulled me away kicking and screaming (figuratively).

After that we went down to an area near St. Joseph where we found a white and red brick wall that was simply superb in color and lighting. We used our last bit of daylight at this alley way in downtown Conway that resembled a dirt road with the brick wall; it was a golden find for what Rachel wanted: hard surfaces with hints of rustic dirt roads or "middle of nowhere" paths. Bam.

After we lost light, I took her to our church, Robinson and Center Church of Christ, also near downtown Conway. The second floor was still in the midst of construction, and I was hoping for some really great metal beams, but instead it was all fresh drywall. We took advantage of it though as a studio of sorts and took some great shots with her leather jacket. 

Overall, I might have been a little biased and spent a little more than the average time on the photoshoot  — I think even Rachel was past ready to be done when I finally called it quits — but what can I say. I wanted these to be perfect for her. 

Thank you Rachel for allowing me to capture you at this point in your life in a way that you will look back on for the rest of your life. I am honored to be your photographer, but more honored to be your sister. Love you, Rach.