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Shayla's Birthday Shoot of April 18, 2021

My daughter/assistant, Shayla, turned 16 this year and to celebrate I gave her a free shoot where she could feel like a queen. Me and my wife, Keisha, had rented a throne and set up a candy kingdom situation that we felt complemented Shayla's personality. Keisha was actually the one to provide most of the props. She had bought the candy, helped me blow up some of the balloons, and had brought the cupcakes from Sam's Club. Shayla was so excited and surprised by the set up, making all the trouble we went through worth it. She even spent most of her free time on the throne watching videos on her phone.

She decided to wear three different outfits for the shoot. Her first outfit was just what she was wearing but with a skirt. She was having so much fun and really loved the set.

Next, she changed into her business shirt. She thought it'd be fitting if The Little Tea Queen (her business) was sitting on a throne. In one shot I decided to try editing four of her into one picture. It was tedious but nonetheless a fun experiment.

Finally she changed into her last outfit which was a pink gown. She actually got that dress for the JROTC military ball but wanted to wear it for the shoot. This was her first time putting on the whole outfit so the shoot ended up being a great way to see if her outfit would work at the ball. Once she had the dress on she got even more excited to sit on her throne. It was really awesome to see that kid all dressed up and happy.

In these next photos Shayla wanted to sit like a jarl from the video game "Skyrim". She had a lot of fun coming up with poses to do. Keisha even had the idea of giving her a lollipop to hold. We also wanted to try having her throw up some balloons. I had some trouble capturing that but she had a blast.

Next we gave Shayla some things to hold like cakes and her mug. Keisha was very worried about her holding one of the bigger cakes as she was the one who made it, but luckily Shayla didn't drop it.

Speaking of dropping things, I ended up dropping one of the cupcakes. We were all pretty worried about it but then Keisha suggested that we use it in some photos. So I had Shayla pose in a way that made it appear as if she had thrown the cupcake on the ground during a royal tantrum. She found it difficult to pose like that since it felt kind of awkward but it worked out in the end. This was also the time I decided to change the background to something more regal.

After I had cleaned up the cupcake mess we tried to use the background to take more serious shots. We also took some silly pictures where Shayla pretended to be a bored princess and then pretended to be asleep.

Shayla had started getting tired so I changed the background. Luckily my oldest daughter, Laila, had come in to check on us and we saw that she had brightened up Shayla's mood. I told her to pretend to be Shayla's servant and the girls ended up having a lot of fun.

Laila ended up leaving the photos but stuck around to help Keisha throw balloons on Shayla.

Laila finally left and Shayla quickly got tired again. We had been shooting for hours so I took a few more shots and let her go.

This shoot was very meaningful to me. I felt mixed emotions of joy and sadness. It was beautiful to see my youngest all glammed up but scary as it felt like she was just six yesterday. I'm still extremely proud of her and, while scared, I'm excited to see how much farther she'll go in a few more years. I just hope she doesn't grow up too fast.

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