Smiles for senior year

Senior Nina Ocampo takes free senior portraits for her friends.


Nina Ocampo

Seniors Alyssa Beamish and Dina Saccacio pose together as Ocampo’s first portrait models.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and if it’s taken by senior Nina Ocampo, it only costs $0.

At the start of the second quarter, Ocampo announced to her several hundred Instagram followers that she would be willing to take senior portraits for free. Almost instantly, Ocampo received several requests from her friends who were eager to do a photoshoot with her.

“It started by me just bringing my camera to social events here and there just to bring it,” Ocampo said. “It soon became this thing where everyone knew I was taking pictures, and I began to take pictures of not just my friends but our entire student body.”

Along with the obvious economic benefits, Ocampo also hopes to give back to those who have helped her in the past.

“The cost of professional portrait sessions are way too expensive,” Ocampo said. “They are extremely unrealistic prices for something a 17-year-old can do by herself with one camera. So I decided to do the portraits for free because I have a lot of amazing friends who have done so much for me and the least I could do was [take their picture].”

So far, Ocampo has succeeded in capturing seniors Alyssa Beamish and Dina Saccacio’s portraits at Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park. For Saccacio, the experience reached far beyond just a photoshoot.

“When we were walking around [Ocampo] played music and talked with me so I would be comfortable,” Saccacio said. “She let me be a total goofball and she was able to capture all of it with her camera. Plus she told me to bring like 3 outfits so that really helped vary how the pictures looked. She was totally open to what I wanted and she did her best to try and capture my vision.”

Ocampo takes these gigs seriously, as she considers pursuing a career in photography.

“I’ve always been a creative kid and photography definitely has been one of my main interests,” Ocampo said. “I feel like I would be a bad professional photographer because I don’t use all the fancy techniques and settings, I just go by what I know and what I think looks good, and what I think the person in the photo would want as the result.”

At the start of second semester, Ocampo hopes to resume taking her friends’ portraits.

“I need to focus on grades and college apps for right now,” Ocampo said. “But once this semester ends, I’ll have more time. I haven’t scheduled with anyone yet, but I’m definitely willing to take more.”

Until then, seniors wait for Ocampo to reopen her schedule for more photoshoots. After all, there’s no better price to capture one of the best years of their lives.