If you have been to my studio, explored my site, or talked to me in person for more than 15 minutes, you have probably heard me mention the phrases “Seniors Ignite,” “We Are the SEEN,” “The 12,” or “JRP models.” But what am I even talking about? Read on to learn a little bit more about my involvement in these groups!
I belong to a photographers’ group called Seniors Ignite.
This program challenges my photography skills with monthly shooting challenges, image critiques, and model competitions. Seniors Ignite helps me expand my photography education and business skills, while developing creative approaches to portrait photography.
The organizers of Seniors Ignite established a program for high school seniors called: We Are the SEEN. This group provides an opportunity for international collaboration between photographers to organize an annual modeling competition, a monthly image competition, and a magazine publication featuring the winning senior models.
THE SEEN, as Jen Basford (co-founder of Seniors Ignite) would say, “is a celebration of the stories of this new generation of the undiscovered. Style, culture, fashion, artists, creatives, music, travel, film, photography, and more. Many of whom are ready to break out and do their own thing.”
The 12 SEEN consists of the top 12 models, selected from the model competition.
How does it work? Firstly, my top models who represent my studio work with me in building their portfolio with model shoots, concept shoots, and their senior portrait photo shoots. We submit those images, along with a zed card, letter of recommendation, and story for the The 12 competition committee. Next, out of 800+ high school photography studio senior model applicants, the judges select the finalists. (See Group 3 Finalists here and see Group 4 Finalists here.) Finally, after they announce the finalists, the judges choose the next 12 models who represent the new group of The 12 SEEN for their graduation year.
Having one of my models in The 12 is an immense honor and highly reputable (similar to winning a photographer’s Grammy award).
Although this a photography competition, it’s not just about the images submitted. “As photographers, we enjoy the process of bringing the story to life” (Basford). Thus, we not only submit images, but also the senior’s personal story to accompany the photos. Working with the models, I help them craft their story, to really learn about them.
In 2016, the We Are the SEEN judges selected one of my Jody Rael Photography senior models, Aimee Apalategui, for The 12, Group 3.
In June, the two of us traveled to LA for a photoshoot featuring The 12 winners! SEEN Magazine, The Undiscovered featured Aimee, along with the other 11 national winners, in the @SEENinprint in Issue 6. The upcoming Issue 7 will feature my photography covering a “Day in the Life of Aimee Apalategui.” To find digital and printed copies of these magazines, go to www.seeninprint.co, where you can view and purchase. SEEN Magazine has a limited copies, so you better get your early when they release the issues, although people can purchase digital copies after they sell out.
In addition to the publication and photo shoots, the models serve as subjects for photographers all over the United States who attend the shootout to learn from the acclaimed creative leaders, Jen Basford, Patrick McBride, and Renee Bowen. One of the attendees, Katherine Mendieta, caught all the action in her videos of the shootouts. (See The 12 Group 3 in LA video here. See The 12 Group 2 in Las Vegas video here–she caught me in a clip; look for the purple shirt!)
In addition to her freshman year at the University, Aimee continues to find and to be found by modeling agencies and jobs from her work with The 12. The involvement with The 12 has provided other models with more publicity for non-profit organizations, charities, and business ventures they are associated with. Check out one of the spreads from Aimee’s feature in SEEN Magazine and a few of her award winning shots!
I am also proud to announce that one of my current senior models, Elizabeth Feliciano, was selected as one of The 12 Group 4! She will be traveling to Palm Springs, CA, with me in January for a 2-day shoot and SEEN Magazine will feature her photoshoot in Palm Springs & my photo story feature in two issues coming in 2017! Check out a few of her photos from her winning submission below.
Bunny models for her senior photos downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. (Elizabeth Feliciano) These images played a key role in her winning model submission for The 12. Makeup by Su Sangsuriya. Hair by Letty Sunderman.
Check this link out for more We Are the SEEN information!