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SETX Photographers of Color provide free senior photo shoots

BEAUMONT — Southeast Texas seniors were honored with a free photo session Tuesday night at The Event Centre.

The Southeast Texas Photographers of Color club hosted 90 seniors from various high schools in the region to capture their most memorable moments.

Nichelle Thibodeaux, a co-founder of the group, said the idea sprouted from a need to give back to her hometown of Port Arthur and the surrounding cities.

“I think everybody has the same idea of wanting to give back to the community,” Thibodeaux said. “I am one of the co-founders of the organization and naturally I wanted to make sure that these kids have something more than the few memories they had cut short.”

Seniors from Southeast Texas pose for a photo at the Beaumont Event Centre Tuesday during a free photo shoot provided by the Southeast Texas Photographers of Color. 

Each senior that signed up received a free 15-minute mini-photo shoot in downtown Beaumont with one of 17 professional photographers.

“These seniors are essential and their memories are important,” Thibodeaux said. “So what we can do to capture those memories is what I wanted to do. I pitched the idea to my group and they were all excited to give back as well.”

Port Arthur photographer Shayla Myers, who is also a teacher at Lakeview Elementary, was particularly excited to give back to her hometown.

“This particular class, a lot of them were my seventh graders when I worked at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, so I had a lot of them in my reading class and now they are graduating,” she said. “To watch them grow from 12 years old to adults now, it’s amazing.”

The seniors were encouraged to pick a memory they wanted to have captured. Some showed up in cap and gown, others dressed in prom attire or sporting gear.

Photographer and Lakeview Elementary teacher Shayla Myers, left, fixes Woodrow Wilson Early College graduating senior Taylor Getwood’s graduation cap. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

 

Photographer and Lakeview Elementary teacher Shayla Myers, right, takes a photo of Woodrow Wilson Early College’s Taylor Getwood. 

Woodrow Wilson Early College High School senior Taylor Getwood chose a suit and a graduation stole displaying his two diplomas.

“It means everything, especially during a dark time,” Getwood said of the free photo shoot. “I am super excited, elated and ecstatic to be able to have this opportunity and I just want to thank everyone who had hands on this project to make this day possible for us seniors.”

As an ex-journalism teacher at Memorial High School, and a Lincoln High School graduate, Thibodeaux was delighted to see students from her home school district.

“Those are my kids,” she said. “That’s my area and my home and even though I live in Houston now, I wanted to do something to appreciate them and so them how much they mean.”

Southeast Texas Photographers of Color group photo. Front row: Jereem Augustine, Brittany Ducote, Nichelle Thibodeaux, Kimberly Sanders, Cetera Melonson. Second row: John Coleman, Shayla Myers, Shawnteé Scott, Allexus Pantallion, Dawn Pickens, Veronica Ardoin, Rita Cane, Karol Allen. Third row: Jessie Ballou II, Alfred Beverly II and Kraig Mewa. Not pictured are Amanda Young, Krisheya Dawsey and Jeremiah Butler. \

The Southeast Texas Photographers of Color started in January 2019 as a way to highlight and support local photographers of different backgrounds.

“We needed an outlet with one another to be able to learn and grow,” Thibodeaux said. “We do classes, photo walks in the area, zoom classes. We help each other learn how to use new equipment, set up for different shoots and more. We were having a hard time finding a large population open to do the things we are doing with one another now. That’s why this group became vital.”