By Dax Duong
Stephanie Montion Marquez peered through the camera, snapping photos of a young man who held a bright-red tennis racket and wore a hoodie of his soon-to-be college. On another day, the photographer captured images of a young woman, also in a hoodie, framed by flower-speckled shrubs. And on another occasion, she took shots of a teenager as he leaned against a door frame and gripped a lacrosse stick.
The subjects were La Jolla High School student-athletes, and the photos were taken at their homes. For graduating students unable to get senior portraits done at a professional studio because of COVID-19, Montion Marquez provides the next best thing.
Montion Marquez got the idea to volunteer to take senior portraits for student-athletes after COVID shelter-in-place orders took effect. One day she noticed her son working out with weights in their living room, and inspiration struck. Photos of students with their sports equipment would help them remember their high school glory days, she thought.
The idea came naturally to Montion Marquez, who is not a professional photographer but is in her element, camera clicking, on the sidelines of La Jolla High School’s football field. She takes pride in being the unofficial team mom.
Montion Marquez said she is driven to take the photographs because the students enjoy them so much. She remembers being at the football team’s banquet, in tears, because the players and their parents were oohing and aahing over photos that she had taken.
The senior portraits—about a dozen so far—give Montion Marquez the same joy. She fondly recalls walking along Nautilus Street in La Jolla and running into a few football dads who told her that her photos made them cry. And after the senior portrait shoots, Montion Marquez said, students often tell her it was the highlight of their day.