Lori Sorenson

One-shot wonder

If we're lucky we nail it on the first shot. If we're smart, we know a good thing when we see it.
On Second Thought

Something truly remarkable happened one gray day in April. I’m still shaking my head over it.

The high school senior wandered into the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon. “Mom, let’s take my graduation photo.”

I just about dropped the frying pan. This is the kid who hates to have his photo taken and was dragging his feet for the graduation portrait.


“Yeah. What should I wear?”

“Something with a collar.”

I turned off the stove and quickly found “portrait mode” in my iPhone camera.

He returned with a plaid, button-down dress shirt and took a seat at the dining room table. I turned him toward the patio door for better light and took the shot.

“Let me see,” the kid checked the preview screen. “I like it.”

And he walked away.

“But I usually …”

He disappeared down the basement stairs.

“… take more than one.”

I sighed and glanced hopefully at the image.

Both eyes were open. He was looking into the lens. And he was smiling.

I liked it, too. Huh. Guess that’s it then.

But there was just one. I never take just one photo. Of anything. 

Ask anyone who knows me. There’s always a chance to improve on the first one … or the 19th one, and we can discard the ones we don’t need.

Jim Brandenburg once told me professional photography is easy when you shoot a thousand frames for the right one.

I used to take multiple shots of my subjects even before digital technology. I’d save my processing coupons and bring in several rolls of film at a time, eagerly opening the Harold’s envelope to see the results of my multiple shutters. 

It wouldn’t take long to discard the prints that didn’t make the cut, and the ones that got framed served to reinforce my compulsive shooting. “OK, guys, just one more.” And then six more shots.

But on this rainy day in April, we nailed it on the first try. 

The one-shot wonder became the face of Carson Ehde for graduation announcements and for profiles in the school yearbook and Star Herald grad edition.

It occurred to me that for some things we get only one shot. Life doesn’t offer do-overs for the important stuff. 

So, we give it our best shot. If we’re lucky we get it right. But if we’re smart, we recognize a good thing when we see it. 

 And we see our children for who they are, not who they might have been or who we anticipated they’d be … but for the distinctly unique and beautiful human beings they’ve become.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020 and to the parents who gave it their best shot.

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