• Dani Eberbach

Sincerely, Julie | Dear Senior Portrait Series

I'm finally able to feature Julie on the blog! She lives in Colorado, so I had to wait until she was back in town before we could have our photo session. Julie is a photographer too so this session was cool because we could work together and trade ideas about locations and poses. We started out at the Firefly Coffee House where the plants were flowering out on the deck, and then moved to downtown Fort Wayne for what I called a "soft urban" look.

Julie summer portrait on deck with vines
Summer portrait on sidewalk in downtown Fort Wayne

I've actually known Julie since elementary school. She was a few years behind me, but she was in my brother's class so we got to know each other a bit over the years. In high school we were in marching band together. Julie was also on the track team, and was involved with the praise band and video production club.

Now Julie lives Colorado where she teaches at a day program for adults with developmental disabilities. She facilitates classes in art, sign language, gardening, and Spanish, and also leads an upcycling group. She also has her own freelance photography business, Umbrella Free Photography.

Summer portrait with pink flowers
Julie outdoor portrait with sunglasses

Julie recognizes that conflict is part of life and growing up, but remembers what it feels like to be on the receiving end of unkind words. She wants everyone to have a chance to be heard and understood. "Having felt the frustration of not being heard, I am passionate about being a microphone to the voices of others whose experiences are often minimized," she says. "I feel this especially being the child of refugees."

Downtown Fort Wayne portrait with reflective windows


"In a short-term sense, I wish I had taken my grades more seriously so I could have applied for more college scholarships. I also wish I had taken my college search more seriously, instead of only applying to one school like I did. I was always left with a sense of 'what if?' about my education post-high school.

"In a long-term sense, I wish diversity and open-mindedness had been emphasized more alongside critical thinking and faithfulness. This is a big, beautiful world and we should be intrigued by others' differences, not fearful of them. I'd love to see more high school seniors graduate and go on to study and celebrate other people, cultures, nations, histories, etc.

"Imagine a world where we don't have to set differences aside to have productive conversations, but rather we can equip our differences as a resource by which to communicate deeply and effectively, sharing diverse perspectives and learning from all walks of life. It'd be beautiful to see less blame and more self-evaluation for the sake of healthy intellectual trade which leads to tangible societal benefits! Of course, I mention critical thinking because I believe true harmony requires honesty, and honesty cannot exist within logical fallacies or emotional manipulation. Seniors, expand your hearts AND sharpen those minds!"

Julie Tu

Concordia High School, Class of 2012

Portrait with turtle statue at Firefly Coffee House

My Dear Senior portrait series features young adults who have completed high school and moved on to "what's next." I've invited these young adults to look back and share a piece of wisdom, encouragement, or advice they wish they'd heard during their senior year. Catch up on all the other features on the Dear Senior page!

#dearsenior #portraits #fortwayne #downtownfortwayne #fortwayneseniorphotographer

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