“I won’t pose by a tree!”

The majority of my work for several years has been corporate with a photojournalistic twist. If not dealing with top executives, I’m working on major product introductions. Lets just say the environment at times can be tense and political. It’s also very rewarding and I enjoy every minute. Making pictures is not a job; it’s a passion for me.

Nevertheless for years I would also make pictures for friends and clients of their children. That’s also incredibly rewarding. Now that they are teenagers it too can become tense and political. Admittedly, I’m addicted to any photographic challenge.

Now that Spring has finally sprung, well maybe for those of us not in the Midwest, it’s Senior Picture season. Girls look forward to this rite of passage as much as their Prom; boys, not so much.

Although some come to me with magazine pictures of Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan and say this is what they have in mind, my answer is an emphatic NO. I have one personal rule, class, style and grace. If this is what you’re after, you have the right guy. I tell them bring me a clip from Town and Country. OK, so I have to bring them the clip.

A couple years ago I met with Victoria to go over locations and ideas. After we introduced ourselves her first words were, “I’ll do whatever you think best, I just won’t pose by a tree.” She had her reasons and research; a few old yearbooks. The pictures showed a large percentage of the girls from her high school standing next to, climbing onto,  sitting down by or hugging a tree. No worries, no trees.

"Victoria with her Sheep By: Joe Polimeni"
Victoria with her Sheep By: Joe Polimeni

This year I took a completely different approach on my shoot with Kylie, a competitive swimmer. I put more time and effort with additional lighting. It’s a look I’ve been missing. She was perfect for trying something different. I put her on the pool’s starting block. Like her swimming coach who gave final instructions before a race, I did the same; “get into the set position, like you would just before the gun goes off.” However her head was down, which is exactly where it needs to be if this were a race. A few more instructions; we need to take a little creative license, pick your head up and give me a “Game” face. She was a natural. We had it in three frames, but made a dozen to be sure. That’s the difference between the News and Commercial world. I could just hear my old boss lecturing me on wasting 9 frames. And just so we’re clear, I made Kylie wearing her Letter Jacket, it’s a classic for any student athlete. Mom loved it, but everyone’s “fav”, including mom, is the “Block” pix.

Kylie on the starting block By: Joe Polimeni
Kylie on the starting block By: Joe Polimeni

Here are some of the Facebook comments Kylie’s mom received after posting the picture:

  • Great Picture !!!! What meet was this??
  • WOW!!! Amazing photo!
  • WOW That turned out GREAT!!
  • It’s an AMAZING photo!!!!! Definitely needs to be on display or on the cover of a magazine!!
  • Really, really, really great photo.
  • Awesome. Stunning and strong !!!
  • Impressive girl and impressive photo

I thought nothing could be harder, and more enjoyable than shooting spot news or making pictures in the corporate world. But teenagers, coming into their own and looking for their 15 minutes of fame is infectious. I can’t get enough of it. And yes, I learn a few things from teenagers. Now I think twice before putting anyone by a tree.


Kylie with Letter Jacket By: Joe Polimeni
Kylie with Letter Jacket By: Joe Polimeni
Kylie head above water By: Joe Polimeni
Kylie head above water By: Joe Polimeni
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