Lizzie // Baraboo senior photographer

When Michele booked senior photos for her daughter Lizzie, she explained to me that Lizzie has Angelman Syndrome, and her life — what brought her joy, what her abilities were, what she understood — was similar to that of a preschooler. Lizzie doesn’t know or care what senior photos are. But Michele, having gone through the senior photo experience with two older sons, and having raised Lizzie to this final year of high school, cared.

This wasn’t for Lizzie, Michele said. This was for her. They had gotten to this point together, and she just wanted to celebrate her daughter. Her daughter who is as unique and precious and beautiful as any other high school senior. Her daughter who holds an equal place in their family as her brothers. Her daughter who, while she may always have the heart and innocence of a child, has made great strides in getting to where she is today.

We didn’t know what to expect. I don’t think either of us would even have dared to hope for what we got that night.

From the moment she sat down on her grandmother’s tree swing in her powder pink prom dress and started exclaiming in pure joy, Lizzie stole my heart. When I got tears in my eyes five minutes into our session, I literally pinched my own arm and said, “Pull it together, you’ve got a job to do.” Because it was really important to me to do this job well, and to do right by this family.

I couldn’t let myself really feel it then, but man am I feeling it now.

This girl is deeply loved and deeply cherished. To have been invited to document their celebration of sweet Lizzie was one of the greatest honors of my career. Join me in congratulating Lizzie and her family on the start of her senior year and feel free to leave some love for Michele here. She’s one amazing mama.

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