My First USNA photography session of 2023 was a day of firsts with a special family!

Let me tell you why in this session recap from March 2, 2023!

A Day of Firsts in my USNA Photography Journey

There were three important “first” moments for me during this very special USNA photography session.

  1. This was my first USNA photography session in 2023. I currently have sessions booked through May and I am looking forward to each and every one. But there is nothing like the first one of the year to ignite my excitement about the upcoming busy season!
  2. This is the first year I have emerged as a USNA Midshipman portrait specialist, meaning I am niched down to USNA photography. This seems so simple from the outside, but I worked very hard last year to revamp my entire website and recreate my brand. It means I put most of my eggs in this basket…because it is my most favorite basket. Do I still do other work? ABSOLUTELY. It just means that I have honed “a particular set of skills” and I plan to make those skills even better while meeting even more awesome clients like this.
  3. This was the first time I have photographed a Plebe-to-be! I love when I meet clients as plebes because I get to know them over the course of the next four years, but to be a part of this amazing girl’s journey from the moment she announces her decision really kicks the warm fuzzies up a few notches for me.

Before Our USNA Photography Session

A fair amount of planning goes into every USNA photography session but this one had some extra fun! This lovely lady knew what she wanted. She told me ahead of time that she would be bringing a banner and a few other props. My imagination sprang into action and I was already in my head creating fun posing in front of the iconic scenery at the Naval Academy weeks before the photography session even started!

During Our Photography Session on The Yard

Luckily, during our USNA photography session, this client was willing to play! Every time I gave a “crazy photographer prompt”, she was there for it. People, these photos are cute, but I can assure you that posing almost always feels awkward while you are doing it. I am sure she felt weird at some point, but she just went with everything I said. My very favorite was when we did “the Pretty girl walk” in front of Bancroft Hall and in the P-way by Dahlgren Hall. These photos just came out so beautifully. The added bonus was that we had the absolute most perfect weather and light. It’s what all my photography dreams are made of!

After The USNA Photography Session

After this USNA photography session I was dying to get home and edit because I knew we had created USNA Photography magic. When I opened them in lightroom, the magic was confirmed. These were solid and gorgeous and I just wanted mom and dad to (and plebe to be, of course) to see them as soon as possible because I knew that if they made ME this proud, Mom and Dad would be GUSHING. So I whipped them out and delivered as soon as possible. And yes, they gushed. *SWOON.

A Special, Military Family

Even though USNA photography seems like a one-hour ordeal, I often get a chance to know quite a bit about my clients and this is a special family for sure. There were a few things that really stood out to me.

The first is that this plebe-to-be was clearly driven and had many options, even to other service academies and she still chose the Naval Academy. This makes my sailor/ veteran heart just sing.

I also loved that her family had a military background. Dad is a Marine Corps Major (ret) who still works as a ROTC leader and mom is also a veteran. They also have a large family. I really connected with this because this is similar to my husband and I. When dad talked about the level of support it took from mom throughout his career, it really hit me in the ticker. This is also the story of my husband and I, as well as our family. I have all the respect in the world for every military family. I know this future plebe will be well prepared because she has seen what it takes to live the military life successfully.

Their Kind Words Encouraged Me

This last part seems self-serving but stick with me…I am a “words of affirmation” person, and this family surely communicated their happiness with me in regard to their session and their photos. They liked and shared my social media posts, they posted my photos and tagged me, they said kind things to me in direct messages, and then they left a google review. I know this seems like nothing, but as a solopreneur, I am on my own a lot. This means I have to hype myself up and toot my own horn. No complaints here, but it is a huge bonus to my personal psyche when clients are supportive in this way. It also speaks volumes as to who they are as people. Not many take the time to build others up. I am very grateful.

I think I will get a chance to work with this family again as they go about their journey at USNA. I can’t wait to get to know them more and help document this special time.

See the cool reel I made here.

I also made a TikTok!

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Kelly is a USNA Midshipman photography specialist in Annapolis, Maryland. She is also a Navy veteran, wife, and mom of 4. She talks way too much and loves to do anything outside! Find more out more about her on her website! Kelly Eskelsen Photography

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Here is a list of the gear I used for this session:

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