Photographers give graduating seniors a chance to smile

Posted at 6:42 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 11:35:17-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Callie Fabrie counts herself among the graduating seniors upset and disappointed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I didn’t expect it to go on for this long,” Fabrie said on the steps of Maggie Walker Governor’s School in Richmond.

CBS 6 caught up with the future Virginia Tech Hokie as she posed for her senior portraits.

“I’ve been trying to keep myself busy more just not to think about it,” Fabrie stated.

The virus has forced school administrators to cancel in-person proms, large graduation ceremonies, and end-of-year pep rallies.

“I feel horrible. I still remember my senior year both in college and high school,” said photographer Jessica Hendricks.

The pandemic has also been tough on Hendrick’s photography business. Her income dried up as youth sports games were scrapped and the Richmond Kickers postponed their soccer matches where she serves as the team photographer.

Hendricks began offering social distancing senior portraits as a way to give the graduates some normalcy during a chaotic year.

“I have a junior, [so] it hits pretty close to home,” she explained. “It’s part of the reason why I’m doing this. I’m not charging a sitting fee. I just hope they buy some pictures so they can have this for a memory.”

Normally, Hendricks would help the senior adjust their cap or fix their hair. Now she stands at least six feet away while wearing a face covering.

The pandemic’s impacts have extended beyond the high school campuses.

Randolph Macon College in Ashland appeared deserted on a warm Saturday morning.

That’s where Jacqueline Severance, owner of Jacqueline Aimee Photo based in Richmond, met up with a brother and sister for their senior portraits.

“These are such special moments they’re being forced to miss out upon,” Severance stated. “With senior photos they can at least celebrate that accomplishment.”

Katelyn Skinner will earn a degree in Communication Studies from the college in the Spring. Her younger brother, Tony, planned to attend Randolph Macon in the Fall after graduating high school in Fredericksburg.

“It’s really upsetting and frustrating,” Katelyn said. “It’s four long years of really hard work. You look forward to walking across the stage and your family being there.”

She also anticipated celebrating her final college year with friends before the senior BBQ and gala were all canceled.

“Not having it is really disappointing,” Katelyn explained.

Tony’s senior prom and pep rallies were also placed on hold —rites of passages for the average teenager.

“It felt like it was taken away from us. It was right in front of us,” he said. “The little things. That’s what hurts.”

These photographers are helping the students to smile, despite the feeling of missing out on life’s milestones.

“Regardless of the pandemic they’re still graduating and they should be able to celebrate that in a responsible socially distance way,” Severance said.

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