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Graduation photos

A special day at Rush Ranch for foster kids

Taking graduation photos is a rite of passage for most young people, but not all students can afford them.

Earlier this spring, five young people were given the gift of a professional photo shoot at Rush Ranch thanks to a small group of photographers and stylists who donated their time and expertise. This is the kind of community connectivity that your support of Solano Land Trust provides.

“Senior portraits are a big deal to students,” said Carlene Kanellis of Carlene Imagery, one of the volunteer photographers. “Everyone should be able to experience that.”

Carlene has volunteered her services to foster kids for years, but until last year she did her volunteering in another county. Since she lives in Vacaville, she wanted to do something local and has started working with CASA of Solano, a group that advocates for abused and neglected young people in the court system.

An expansive landscape

This was her second year working with CASA kids. Last year they took photos in downtown Vacaville. This year they tried the magnificent landscape at Rush Ranch with great results.

Three young women and two young men who are graduating seniors started off by having their hair and make-up done in the Nature Center by professionally-trained artists, Rachel Espinosa and Connor Kanellis.

“Usually they’re super shy, but after getting haircuts and makeup, you can see in their body language they dig it,” said Carlene, who along with photographer Alex Sommerfeldt, led the students outside for photo shoots near the corrals. The  historic farm equipment, framed with tall green grass and wildflowers, made for a spectacular backdrop.

“By the end of the session they were super excited, more confident, and really appreciative,” said Carlene.

After the graduation photos had been taken, the students stood on a ramp to quietly watch a week-old foal in the corral.

Photos are courtesy of Carlene Imagery, Nicole Braddock, and Tom Muehleisen.

(Stonewall Santiago is the newest foal in the line of Stonewall Sport Horses of Access Adventure.)