The Alvord Desert Experience: Ike and Tash Class of 2017 Street Team

It has been almost 7 years since we started our senior model program, more affectionally referred to as the 'Ike and Tash Street Team."  When we first started our rep program it was to create a link to the high schools and to high school seniors so that we could grow our business and become a strong competitor in the senior market here in the South Sound.   What we didn't expect were the relationships that would develop, the fun we would have and the ministry that this little idea would become. 

Every year, before summer ends, we try to do a really awesome amazing stylized shoot for marketing purposes.  As the years have progressed those shoots have turned into experiences;  and now they are road trips.  Some are just a few hours, some are 1 day, but this year, we up'd the ante and took our girls on a weekend trip!

It has been my dream to shoot at the Great Salt Lake or White Sands National Monument, but as you can imagine - getting 20+ people to those places can be challenging.  I went on a google search looking for salt flats in the Pacific Northwest and happened upon the Alvord Desert.  

Alvord Desert is in the southeastern corner of Oregon, below the Steens Mountains .  It 84 square miles of a dried up lake and its ABSOLUTELY stunning.

I presented the idea to the girls and their parents, noting we would be driving 10.5 hours to the middle of no where - they got excited with me, and three weeks later we packed up two vans to head to the desert.

Each of these beautiful girls have woven themselves into our hearts.  They are all so bright, generous and kind and every opportunity we get to spend with them is so treasured.  I can't believe this is our life and how we get to spend our days.  We are so blessed and so thankful!

To check out our adventure in video format you can catch Part 1 of our trip here

and Part 2 of our trip here

These videos put into words - what I won't in this blog post and show just how fun, raw and real our adventures together are. 

To narrow down 700+ pictures to create a blog post is so tough, but here's a little sneak peek of what took place that day.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog post, the fun boho looks we created.

Hair for this shoot provided by: Bronte Stevenson

Makeup provided by: Isabel Boyd

Styling: Tawny Smith of The Chic Chameleon

“True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island... to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.” - Baltasar Gracian

Israel,  Clover Park High School - Class of 2017 -  Israel is so special to us.  She is an encourager and a protector.  Wise beyond her years, she is the "mama bear" that protects those that she loves fiercely.  She is so talented, a student leader at her school, serving as a cheerleader actively encouraging school spirit among her peers, while also pursuing her education at community college.  When she graduates she will not only have a high school diploma, but aslo an associates degree.

“If you don’t die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise. The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music. “ - Anne Lamont

Ally,  Rogers High School - Class of 2017 -  Ally is our thoughtful girl.  Always encouraging those around her and building them up.  It isn't rare to receive a text from Ally or her mom and to hear that they are praying for the girls, or us and our business.   Ally always comes with a gift, is is always first to help.  She has a servant heart and it comes forth every time we are together.    She is a talented student and a focused volleyball player.   

Vanessa,  Curtis High School - Class of 2017 - Vanessa is full of joy!  Can you tell?  In the short time that we have known her I have never heard her utter a cross word about anyone or anything.  She is constantly encouraging and building up those around her.   A talented singer, she is also a creative and is full of amazing ideas.   I can always count on Vanessa to bring positive energy to anything we do and her presence is such a blessing. Besides being absolutely stunning, she also is a high school track star!

I don’t see the desert as barren at all; I see it as full and ripe. It doesn’t need to be flattered with rain. It certainly needs rain, but it does with what it has, and creates amazing beauty. - Joy Harjo

Tori,  Rogers High School - Class of 2017 - Tori is my quiet girl.  She sits and watches and pays attention, but when she speaks it generally full of thought and wisdom.  She is a deep thinker and wants those around her to be honored and respected.  I see this in the way she carefully makes sure that all of her words are used to edify.   Tori is the third of a set of sisters who have transformed our street team experience and our lives and its an honor to know her.  Besides being wise, she is also actively involved in volleyball at her school and running start, and like many of our girls, will graduate with a diploma and a degree. 

Sophie, Wilson High School,  Class of 2017 - Sophie is so special.  She is quiet, yet, witty.  Calm yet a force to be reckoned with.  We heard about Sophie before ever meeting her, and when we did, she didn't disappoint.  Sophie walks in so much love and grace.  She is the kind of leader who leads strong, but can also follow just as well.  It's no question in meeting her why she is so highly respected by her peers.  She is a student leader, Senior Class President, but is also committed to keeping her body in shape, and runs track. 

A desert is a place without expectation. - Nadine Gordimer
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Hannah,  Bethel High School - Class of 2017 - Hannah is the kind of friend that everyone would want in their corner.  She loves hard and with a fierce fire that continually burns.  When Hannah is for you she is for you and stops at nothing to show you her love and commitment.  She is sensitive, and that sensitive heart allows her to see others - to respond in love and grace, and to meet their needs.  I have watched her encourage, build and support the ones around her with so much love and she is a beautiful example.  She has so much love to give and share and her school is blessed to have her. 

Sammi,  Stadium High School - Class of 2017 - Sammi is our resident Vegan and our modern day hippie.  The way she sees the world is so beautiful.  Being in Sammi's presence is an instant "pick-me-up" - she sees the very best in others and is intentional about pulling them out.  You can't be around Sammi and live life the same.  She is the kind of girl who challenges you to think about how you can be the best you that YOU can be, and then stands with you while you go on your journey.  I have learned so much about loving the little things in life by watching and listening to Sammi live her life in that example.   Sammi loves and cherishes those around her and fully embraces the good and bad things life has to offer.

Besides being an import from the 60's Sammi is already committed to play college soccer on scholarship in California and we are so proud of her!

Asia,  Life Christian Academy - Class of 2017 - is so thoughtful.  Always calling and checking on us to make sure we are okay.  Always volunteering and coming through when we need help.  She has the heart of a servant and we can always count on her.   Asia is kind.  Wise.  Dependable and obviously so beautiful!  She is also a student leader at her school, and is a cheerleader!

What makes the desert beautiful, said the little prince, is that somewhere it hides a well. - The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint -Exupery

Auna,  Decatur High School - Class of 2017 - Auna is probably the funniest girl on the street team.  If we had an award for comedian, she would get it.  She is ALWAYS making us laugh, always redirecting us to see the good and always encouraging us.  She is a natural leader and an incredible empathizer.  She knows how to encourage and build those up around her and she is amazing and seeing all sides of a perspective and getting you to think about the big picture.  It's no wonder that her peers continue to pick her for things that put her in the forefront, class president, homecoming court - she does it all and wrestles too! 

Tatyana,  Federal Way High School - Class of 2017 -  Taty is our real life Disney princess.  Gracious, kind and thoughtful.  Always with a smile on her face.  She is easy.  Easy to get a long with, easy to love and we love her so much.  She is a basketball star among so many other things and she hold those that she loves so close.  When you think of the anchors in your life, Taty would be one that would pop into your mind.  She is always there, always consistent and never changing. 

Ariel,  Tahoma High School - Class of 2017 - Ariel is a firecracker.  Quiet, yet fully present, taking everything in.  She is strong and thoughtful and caring.  A cheerleader, she is also caring and concerned with the needs of others.   I had this conversation with Ariel in Oregon where she really helped me see how valuable family is - she loves her and those she loves she honors and protects.  We value who she is and we love having her on our team. 

Keep bubbling over with abundant joy, peace and love. You may be the only well-watered oasis for someone going through a desert in their lives.- Caroline Naoroji

Tenley,  Tahoma High School - Class of 2017 -  Tenley might be the most grateful senior I have ever met.  Always always saying "thank you," always valuing her opportunities, always doing what she can to show up and to be a part.   There are few days that pass where Tenley doesn't remind us of how grateful she is for and to us, and her actions so beautifully line up with her words.  She is a person of her word and always follows through.   That type of character in a young person is so hard to find, but Tenley has it down.  She is also brave.  She goes towards the trials in her life full force ahead.  Never scared, always willing to fight for what and who she wants.  

Tenley also displayed that bravery on this trip, capturing a bat and letting it lose out into the world, while Ike hid in the bathroom - peep the video above.  Having Tenley on the team is such a blessing!

Shelby, Foss High School,  Class of 2017 -  When I think of words to describe Shelby, immediately I hear independent, self - starter, motivated.  Shelby, recently nominated homecoming queen is one of the strongest high school seniors I have ever met.  She handles everything in her life with grace and works so hard for everything that she has.  I met Shelby almost two years ago, when she was a sophomore/junior and immediately fell in love with her.  When you meet her, its easy to know why.  Besides being gorgeous, she is strong.  She is passionate about her school, serving in ASB and is committed to everything she sets out to do, including representing us.  It is a joy to know her and to watch her win at everything she sets her hands to. 

Love me or hate me, the desert seems to say, this what I am and this is what I shall remain. - Joseph Wood Krutch

What a precious precious trip, one that I will never forget.  Thank you for helping to continue to tell our story ladies.  We love you so much and we are so thankful for what EACH of you adds to our growing family. 

For more info about our street team program visit here

To book a Class of 2017 Senior Session visit here

*Not pictured, but still so important our girls:  Carissa, Emerald Ridge High School /  Da'Shalynne, Wilson High School and Meghan, Steilacoom High School 

Guest Blog: 10 Tips to Master Your Senior Year, Olivia Louise, a Class of 2016 Tahoma High School Alumni {Tacoma Senior Portrait Photographer, Tacoma, WA}

10 Tips to Master Your Senior Year

By Olivia Louise

In honour of the school year starting (if it hasn't already) I decided to give you "10 Tips to Senior Year."  So I took it upon myself to chat with a few of my lovely friends and here is what we collectively came up together;

1. Go to every event possible: During my Sophomore/Junior year I hardly attended any events that weren't required. I tried to get out of every assembly possible and wasn't a fan of being spirited. But when Senior year hit that all changed. I went to every football game, home or away, and went to as many lacrosse games, soccer games, and basketball games as I could. Assemblies weren't as bad because I chose to have a better attitude about it, yes they were just about the same every time but it was the only time our entire school and class were together at once. Don't miss out on games, plays, assemblies, etc. just because you feel "too cool". The attitude you put in, is what you get out.

2. Do your work: I was/am a big time procrastinator. Unfortunately, I have become one of those people who writes better at 11:30 at night and only a limited about of time. 10/10 would not recommend becoming that person.  I have gotten slightly better, but when you get homework, do it then and there. Waiting until the last minute will just give you unnecessary stress that you don't need. Not to mention, the quicker you get it done the more free time you have to binge watch Criminal Minds or Game of Thrones like I do (;

3. Focus on YOUR future: Take time to figure out what you want to do after high school. Whether it be taking a gap year, going straight into the workforce, or getting secondary education, make sure it is what YOU want to do and that YOU are happy/comfortable with your decision. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing and do what is best for you. Senior year is the year you get to focus on who you will become and preparing yourself for your future.

4. Participate in Spirit Days: You are NEVER too cool to dress up in school/class colours, or to wear all neon, or whatever it may be. I rarely dressed up in all of the spirit days because I wasn't at school as long as everyone else (thank goodness for only having two classes a day), but when I did dress up for them I tried my hardest to go all out. It's 10x more fun with friends if you coordinate and they make for cute pictures!   

5. Take loads of pictures: I can't stress this point enough. I used to not be a big fan of taking pictures with friends because I was too embarrassed to ask (who knows why), but senior year came and I have never taken so many photos in my entire life. I have an entire wall in my room that is covered in pictures of me and my friends and it makes my heart warm every time I look at it. Although people change, memories don't and pictures capture that memory forever, so in the future you can tell your kids about your high schools days (;

6. Don't be afraid to let go: People will walk in and out of your life. Some stay for longer than others and that is okay. Senior year will really change your perspective on friendships and although it hurts to loose connections you may have had for years, some people are only meant to be apart of your life for a season or two. This is more likely to take place after you graduate but it's good to prepare yourself now rather than later. Friends go off to college and you loose touch but that's okay. Root for them and wish them nothing but success and happiness. 

7. Time flies: I'm sure this isn't the first time you'e heard this and it definitely won't be the last. You never actually believe anyone until it happens to you. Cherish every moment you have with friends and family. Take a step back when you're all together (holidays, BBQ's, get-togethers, etc.) and just watch the way everyone smiles and laughs and how their eyes light up when they talk about something they love or find deep interest in. It's a cool thing to witness.

8. Let your parents be obnoxious: This is especially true if you are the oldest child and they are going through this journey for the first time. They have no idea what to expect and are just as nervous and excited as you are. Their little boy or girl has grown up and is about to take on the world, they're going to be emotional. My mom wanted to take a thousand pictures over the littlest things because they were my "lasts" and it drove me insane. But remember to have patience with them, let them in on your plans in life and let them help you. 

9. Don't worry if ____ doesn't like you back: As someone who has never had a boyfriend I felt like it was part of the high school experience to have that boy for all of high school. Clearly I watched way too many movies and Troy Bolton set my expectations extremely high. No boy is going to break out in a full choreographed dance and sing beautifully (and if he does then wow, you found a gem). Don't worry about trying to find your "one true love" because after you graduate are you ever going to see each other? Probably not. Spend time building friendships and investing in yourself, making sure you are happy being by yourself. Learn to love yourself with or without a significant other. 

10. Have fun!: You are in your final year of high school! Take a break from doing homework on the weekend and spend it doing something fun. Go be adventurous and create stories and memories that you will actually remember when you're 20 years in the future. You aren't going to remember the thesis for one of your English papers, but you will remember that one time you ran around a city you barely knew, taking pictures with friends for a scavenger hunt, while it rained harder than you have ever seen. Maintain your grades but don't let it consume you. Say yes to invites instead of saying no. It's your last year of school and what you put in is what you will get out.  

Olivia is a recent high school grad, Ike and Tash Street Team Alumni headed to Central Washington University to study fashion.  She is also author of an incredible fashion blog titled Olivia Louise.  To follow her or keep in touch check her out at the following places online:

Instagram | Facebook |  Blog | Twitter | Lookbook

Cast your Vision: Vision Boards {Tacoma Senior Portrait Photographer, Tacoma, WA}

They call them Vision boards, Dream Boards, Inspiration boards....

But no matter what you call it, its about helping to put your life goals into picture form.

VISUALIZATION

putting life goals into picture form. Collage of pictures, words and quotes that serve to remind you of where you want to go, your passion and purpose

Supplies:

You’ll need:

  • a posterboard, cork board or small canvas
  • a stack of old magazines
  • scissors
  • markers or paint
  • glue, tape, thumbtacks or pins
  • a photo of yourself (optional)

 Step 1: Set aside time to think about your goals.  

I encourage the girls to break their life up into sections and to create goals in those areas:

  • Relationships/Friendships
  • Home Life
  • School
  • Sports
  • Activities
  • Future Goals
  • Community Service

Create 1-2 goals in each area that you want to focus on. Realistic and achievable goals that can be measured so that they know when they have achieved it.

For example: I want to being my C grade in Math up to an A- and I will do this by getting a B or higher on every test and by getting a 90% or higher on every assignment.

Step 2: Gather the materials you need, put on inspiring music, light some candles and think about, visualize, pray over what you want you life to be.

Where do you see yourself and what visuals represent those goals for you?

Step 3: Cut out images from magazines that represent the life you want to live.

For example, if you want to become a fashion designer, you might clip photos of models wearing designer clothing on the runway. If you want to go to University of Washington, you may look Huskies or purple and gold to go on your vision board.

Step 4: Place the photo of yourself in the middle of the board (optional). Then, paste or pin your magazine images on your board. There’s no “right way” to arrange your images. You can fill the board with pictures or just have a few posted all over on the board.

Step 5: Use your markers or paint to write your personal mantra or other favorite quotes or scriptures onto your vision board. You can also just cut out words or phrases from the magazines to paste on your board that remind you of the life you want to live.

Step 6: I pair the girls up with an accountability partner:  someone on the team they feel comfortable sharing their goals with that will come back and ask them how it is going and where they are – I also check in with the girls so that I can be a voice of encouragement as they pursue the things they are after.

Step 7: Display your vision board somewhere you’ll see it every day and feel inspired! If you like, you can also frame your vision board and hang it on your wall.

You can focus on ONE major group of goals or a lot of little goals at once, there is no wrong way to create your dream board. You can also fill your entire board up at once or you can leave some space on your board to add new dreams and ideas and rearrange things as they come up!

There is NO wrong way to cast your vision, it is just important that you do cast it.

I have been doing vision boards since 2008.   What I have found is every year that I cast my vision and make a visual representation of it, those things seem to happen – its when I haven’t done that, that I have struggled keeping after and making decisions that directly influence and cause my goals to come to life.

This is such a fun activity and I am so excited to bring it to life with my high school girls.

and, as mentioned in my Periscope broadcast yesterday - you can grab "START" by Krysta Masciale here

Sunday Dinner with the Street Team {Tacoma Senior Portrait Photographer, Tacoma, WA}

Since God blessed us with this house, I knew I wanted it filled to the brim, with laughter and conversation, and planning and goal setting. Last December, one of our neighbors talked about opening up his house once a week to his friends.  He would throw food on the grill and everyone would commit to bring drinks and sides.   He said they did it until their kids were grown and left the house, and still to this day, come together every Sunday night in summer.

I had sat on that idea all year long, wanting to incorporate into my own life.  Summers are busy for us because we are wedding photographers, but like for so many wedding photographers, winter brings a little less hustle.

Ike and I have a very active street team.  Sometimes its hard to connect from event to event, so, a couple weeks ago, I introduces this "Sunday Dinner" series to them, but instead of a grill in sides, they would bring a plate (potluck style) and we would do a study hall.

Every Sunday night, from 6-9p no matter what is happening, this would be our time to come together and connect.

It isn't mandatory but a time for us to just check in with one another, a safe place, accountability.

Our first Sunday dinner was an incredible success.  I had current street team members and alumni come and we worked on everything from college applications, to personal statements, to Seattle Fashion Week to accounting homework.

We are in the process of selecting another street team and last week decided to open our "Sunday Dinner" up to every girl who applied so that we could do a "meet and greet."   It was AMAZING to see 67 girls show up to our front door that night.

What started as Sunday Dinner, very quickly, turned into a house party AND WE LOVED IT!  Dancing to Justin Bieber, red solo cups, tasty food, and fellowship.  So many of the girls kept telling me they were getting texts asking "Where the party was?"

About an hour in we sat down and we talked.  We connected.  We shared our hearts, our hopes and our dreams and we built so many genuine connections and relationships.

When it was all over, I was so fed.  So moved and so grateful for what took place.

Young people are needed.  They are precious.  They carry innovations, purpose, our future in their hands.  They deserve a voice.  They deserve an opportunity.   They deserve passionate adults who believe in them, want to sow into them and will help them realize their greatness.

I sat in a room full of young girls with dreams bigger than theirselves.  They carry great vision to change their world and to leave it a better place.  I felt motivated, inspired and moved to do something, not just in words, but in action to support them in catapulting forward. 

Even though these girls were JUST applicants, I knew it couldn't stop there.

After so much prayer and agonizing over the non-reality of a 94 member street team, we decided that the best way to move forward was opening up our Sunday Dinner's the first Sunday of every month, to every single girl who had applied to be on the street team to join our current street team and our alumni for food, fun and fellowship.

We are so thankful for this house.  This house filled to the brim with estrogen, and laughter and fun and every single girl who finds their way here, that she will feel welcomed, loved and supported.

I want this time to be intentional, uplifting and life giving.

I got a text from our accountant volunteering yesterday to sponsor a Sunday dinner and I was so overwhelmed and my heart started bursting!

There are so many people who may not be called to serve girls but who can support us and what we are trying to do in our community, so if that's you, and you can offer tutoring, or any other resource, or food that might help us serve these girls better - we have our hands open and would love to collaborate with you!

Please send us an email to info@ikeandtash.com or comment below so that we can reach out to you!

And thank you to all of the people who have commented and texted and offered encouragement and support - We are honored to be able use our business to have this kind of impact on the girls in our community!

And some images from the girls below! 

Fun behind the scenes photos provided by all of these amazing girls!