molly- senior session

Here’s the truth:

Remember Molly? She’s part of this awesome family.

Here’s the truth:

Molly is autistic. Molly is non-verbal autistic.

You can google autism and there is a ton of information out there. What it is, what the symptoms are, and so on.  As a photographer to me molly being autistic meant… I couldn’t use all my normal tricks to get her to smile. So I was struggling with ideas. I knew I couldn’t tell Molly a funny story, or ask her to think about that thing that she did that her mom know’s nothing about and would die if she ever found out. For me it meant, really trying to connect with someone who doesn’t answer me when I ask a question. Trying to connect with someone who doesn’t say,” I don’t like this location,that pose is totally awkward, grass makes me itchy, or hey do you think we could throw on some music?”

But here’s the truth:

sometimes… I get Molly, and honestly I think sometimes… Molly gets me.


mollybell-1-2Those two pictures are shutter click 2 and 3. Started off strong-


every girl needs good lips.


Last time I took photo’s of molly I really got her to smile and have a good time by jumping off a ledge. We must have done it 5 times. So… we tried again. Molly wasn’t all about it this time, but her moms demonsration was awesome.(and she may just kill me for the image below)


So  I am 20 min’s into hanging with Molly. By now I would have told her some crazy story about my senior year, and we would be in full swing, comfortable with each other, and having a blast. Molly… well she was still a little unsure, and very serious-



And I am starting to get a little nervous. But then- boom- this would happen




So we switched up outfits-

Side note: working with someone who doesn’t smile eaisly – really, it is a challenge. My goal going into this was to give molly’s family 8 good images of her. before we switched outfits i was starting to hope for 5. i felt like i was failing with a big capital F. it might have even been prefaced but the you know what f word. every time I would lift my lens i would talk to molly. “I love your shirt, did you pick it out. your boots are awesome. thank you so much for looking at me. molly your eyes are so pretty, can i see them again.” but after my first session, i knew asking molly to smile was not a good idea. i think last time i got her to smile when i said something that made her whole family laugh.. so i was struggling to capture her  with anything but her serious look.

mollybell-1-20 mollybell-1-21 mollybell-1-22


So, we jumped in the car for a location change-

annnndddd guess what… still serious molly, worried, concerned molly.

mollybell-1-24 mollybell-1-23

At this point…. i’m starting to hope for one good image- then this happens.

mollybell-1-25 mollybell-1-26 mollybell-1-28

I have to tell you I have no idea what I said, or what thought suddenly ran through molly’s mind, but when i see these… love.  I am suddenly like, ok, ok, her mom isn’t going to chalk this up to tried but…. failed. I see this, and I remember I was  thinking in my brain.. sending her the mental message, just have fun with me molly. just relax and know you are doing a great job, you’re beautiful, these are going to be awesome. and maybe me mental messaging that to her… stuck with me too. hands down, my all time favorite image I have EVER taken. in the middle above. and maybe that is because for a second, she was with me. she wasn’t looking off humming, she wasn’t staring off into the distance thinking.. well who really knows what… she was just a kid, happy to be having her senior picture taken. and I am so proud of that image.



I asked molly, like I do all my seniors… is there any place else you’d like to go. and she immediately started walking, so we followed. She did pick this overly sunny spot, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going to take her picture there.


I asked her one more time – and she chose this spot. Not a bad way to end our session.

mollybell-1-41 mollybell-1-40

hey molly, have an awesome senior year!

(side-side- note HERE is her mom’s blog. i can’t describe it, so i won’t try. i can tell you this, it is an awesome read, and a little insight to life with molly)




2 thoughts on “molly- senior session

  1. So I might just kill you as soon as I finish laughing over the picture of me jumping off the rock. Watch your back 😉 Great blog! Love that you were up for the nightmare challenge of a good Molly photo shoot. I L.O.V.E your favorite pic too. Thank you Katie!!

  2. I love reading your thoughts as I look at the images you captured of Molly. I knew Molly when she was a preschooler and I think of her often, though I now live hundreds of miles away. These photos and your commentary help me feel closer to Molly, the girl who stayed in my heart all these years. Thank you.

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