passion | High School Photography | WAVphoto

“The things you are passionate about are not random.
They are your calling.”
-Fabienne Fredrickson

High school students are a pleasure to photograph.
Only a few of my subjects have ever been photographed by a professional photographer.
Most have mastered the selfie.

Our consultation gets us on the same page-with each other and with one of their parents!
The day of our session, I have a young adult, filled with energy
and a willingness to cooperate- perhaps needing a little guidance,
a little direction, a big laugh and the opportunity to show their passion.

Then the experience begins.

I make them feel strong.

I make them feel confident.

I help them feel beautiful.

Together, we create art.

The art will always remind this person of their unique experience with me, of feeling strong, confident & beautiful.


Summer Moments

A short video of summer in the Adirondack Mountains~

(click on “Summer Moments” below)

Summer Moments.




I’m so fortunate to know such strong & beautiful women.
To have the opportunity to photograph one in this field
of flowers is a dream come true.



Willsboro, New York






I may not remember the date although I could take a close enough guess but I do recall how my heart felt when my children knew my name. “Mom” had such a wonderful sound to it when my daughter first said the word. Two years later my heart filled again when my son also made the connection. I knew they understood that I was someone important to them and in order to get my attention, all they had to say was “Mom”. (In our home it was much easier to say a word than throw a tantrum or cry – just felt better).

I probably won’t remember this date on the calendar in a few weeks either. I will be able to visit inside my heart as I held my tears at bay when my mom said my name. Today.

The nurse saw me after I signed in at the reception desk. She said my mom was having a ‘good day’ today. I approached the craft table and the aide said, “Anne, your daughter is here!” (my mom with dementia is still quite competent with an ‘appropriate’ response, even if she has no idea what you’re talking about). We started walking to the garden. I turned to her and asked ‘do you know my name?’. She looked at my face, and with more clarity than I have recently seen, said “Wendy”.


I get emotional when she doesn’t have any idea who I am or what her story is. The lump in my throat successfully squeezes tears from my eyes. I also get emotional when she does have a sliver of clarity. Those precious moments when I can help her remember parts of her story are rare. I can see the effort in her brain to recall and describe events in her past. Some details are missing, but they aren’t important. I know her story and can fill in the blanks.

So, the sandwich. I seem to fit into the statistic called “The Sandwich Generation”, where the middle generation has a parent requiring care and children who are not quite independent yet. In the middle. Sometimes I feel like the baloney.


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I walked through the fallen leaves on a bright & brisk morning. I came across the field and walked the pathway toward it remembering my first visit many years and a lifetime ago. Back then, I was overwhelmed with emotion because the monument itself was beautiful, unique, powerful. I remember I had stopped in my tracks after it came into view. Masterfully created, mindfully placed.
Sacrifice finally recognized.

While I thought I knew what to expect having visited the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, DC before, the emotion hit me harder and more deeply this day. Perspective broadened, time passed, gratitude carved into my soul.

58,286 names etched into black granite.
Each name belongs. A son, a brother, a father, a friend.
The youngest name belongs to a 15 year old who lied about his age.
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The memorial is a somber place standing out among the white marble momuments and tributes that surround it. The intention of the black granite surface is to reflect the trees and sky and the people who come to visit.
A place to grieve. A place to remember.

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Tributes are carried to The Wall and left behind usually with tears of grief and sadness. A burden of the survivors. Flowers, letters, emblems of friendship and memories. A brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle — a gift to an only child from his dad, was left at the wall to honor the son who would never get to ride it.

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The commitment continues to bring each one home to be buried in the United States.
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Near each name is a small symbol:
a diamond means they are accounted for
+ symbolizes they have not been recovered and are still missing.
As the remains are discovered and returned home, the + is etched
into a diamond.
The + will be etched into a circle when, and if, they return alive.

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I heard she thought she wasn’t pretty
I heard she thought she didn’t fit in
She thought she was different.


We went to the woods
We breathed the air
Supported by the earth under our feet

We laughed
We created


She is beautiful
She is unique
She is strong

The experience

The photographs

I showed her how perfect she is
She celebrates



WAVphoto Chris VonDerLinn
‘the things you are passionate about are not random, they are¬†your calling’
~fabienne frederickson

I know a young man who has passion.
Passion in how he learns, the quantity of knowledge he has, his joy in sharing his gift with the world.

This young man is a drummer who was born with rhythm coursing through his veins and always a steady heartbeat, barely able to contain his drumming fingers…always at the dinner table, frequently on a drum set.

I know this drummer. I gave birth to him.

‘Passionate’ is the perfect description of his enthusiasm of all things percussion. As a barely two year old trying to configure a drum set using a coffee can, tape, paper plates & a barbecue skewer, frustration mounting as the high-hat cymbals wouldn’t open & close like he saw in a Beatles video.

Shortly after, a December holiday brought an entire drum set–and at his birthday party only 3 weeks later he shared his drumming passion with the world. Ok…maybe to most of his first grade class and all the neighbors.

What I admired about his performance was he didn’t know if he was a great drummer or an ok drummer. He just wanted to play. And he played along with the Beatles music and he started the party.

WAVphoto Chris VonDerLinn

So this passion continues and gets deeper (as does his song selection) over the years to include all genres of music. It’s a pleasure to watch the evolution of his style and skill as he proceeds through each phase. I am grateful that heavy-metal was relatively short lived and that jazz is in the heavy rotation.

When I see passion in a young person, it’s not forced. It’s an inner drive, strength, motivation. An athlete on the practice field before the team, the artist who has filled every page of the sketchbook before the semester begins, the mountain climber who has studied the map well before the hike. The drummer who is on the stage for every performance that involves music: the pit musical, the symphonic & orchestra concerts, the student showcase, marching band & jazz bands. And then playing through his selections for hours at a time on his set in the basement. Without applause. Drumming is the blood that keeps him alive.WAVphoto Chris VonDerLinn

Where does it come from? I’d like to take a little credit – for the 9 months I carried him I taught step aerobics to a perfect 8 count…

…but that doesn’t explain why, on one of the coldest days in winter, he packed up his set (breaking down drums, stands, cymbals, amps), loaded the pieces into his car – unloaded them at school, set up the drum set, rocked the stage for his Tri-M (music honor society) recital, then took the whole kit apart, in the car, home & back into the basement. It was well below zero degrees F. I know because I was ‘helping’ him get it packed into his car at the school, when everyone else was gone. The janitor was already cleaning the hallway outside the room. There was no applause, just frostbite. Frostbite and passion.


‘You may encounter many defeats,
but you must not be defeated.
In fact, it may be necessary
to encounter the defeats, so you
can know who you are,
what you can rise from,
how you can still
come out of it’
~Maya Angelou

This is from a high school football game. Giving up wasn’t an option.

Oconomowoc High School
Oconomowoc, WI
11-0 season

Photo: MacKenzie Valley

the artist


Creativity is not the finding
of a thing,
but the making something
out of it
after it is found.
~James Russell Lowell

Months ago I had a vision & a dream to heal my sad heart.
I hoped I would find an artist who had a creative mind and a sense of history. Someone who saw new life in the wood of a old barn.

One evening, I had come across a beautiful barn holding onto its last breath. By sunrise the next morning I was wading through knee-high grass with my camera in full creative mode and in love with the moment.


I passed the same location soon afterward, a big pile of rubble was all that remained. I was devastated and wondered what would happen with the barn wood that had been harvested? My imagination ran wild with endless possiblities: barn wood flooring? dining tables? rustic walls inside a city studio? bonfires? My heart was heavy as I wrote a blog. *

You see, I have a ‘thing’ for barns, especially really old barns. I feel a quiet energy in the history of what remains after years and years of snow, rain, sun, sweat, heart aches and celebrations. I feel the same about old doorways and window frames with ancient paint peeling off and rusted hinges trying to hold them together. I love to have my camera with me when I come upon a barn – it’s usually the perfect model, well lit and full of emotion.


So, back to my search for an artist.

The rain was just starting and we were still a 20 minute walk back to the car. It was my first visit to the Cranberry Festival–a mixture of creativity and humanity. We were taking in just one more aisle of craft booths when I came around a corner and saw barn wood. Actually, a rustic booth of barnwood trays on display. I did a double-take. I evesdropped on a conversation already underway and couldn’t believe my ears…barn wood trays…made from reclaimed…barn wood!

In my soul I was so content – I found someone who has masterfully crafted beautiful and functional art work. Someone understands the beauty & energy of the wood and is preserving it’s history.

In my excitement, I tried to explain to the artist how happy I was to see Barnwood Trays and tried to tell him that I just wrote a blog, yadda-yadda–was looking for an artist…and you are it! I’m certain my words were just a jumble of incoherent thoughts as the rain fell more steadily and I attempted to find the perfect tray to purchase.

The tray selection process was tough because there were so many sizes and styles to choose from. Each tray seemed to have a unique personality of grain and knots and each one was simply beautiful. The best part? On the bottom of every BarnwoodTray is a photograph of the original barn with a story of it’s history. A birth certificate, of sorts.


Finally I made my selection, and carried it under my raincoat to protect it…giddy with the thrill of finally finding the artist. My heart smiled for days.

I look back and laugh at myself…wouldn’t the barnwood survive a little rain?

* (link to ‘second time’ my original post)

Dan and his family are the barnwood artists who create beautiful trays, coffee tables, wine racks and preserve history. You can find BarnwoodTrays at shows in the mid-west (USA), Midwest Living Magazine, facebook & Pinterest. Please visit to read their story &
to see their work!