A high school senior portrait session in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with a talented and hardworking young man we could all learn from

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Aaron Kohlhafer

Class of 2018, First Flight High School

I had an amazing time shooting a senior portrait session in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with young man whose story is quite inspiring! We could all learn a lesson or two from him.

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Aaron climbed up in this giant tree for this photo! This is a tree near his house that he grew up climbing on and around as a kid. Photo © Jillian Regan 2017.

Aaron is a talented and hardworking young man, with such a bright future ahead of him! He is a stellar student as well as a very talented musician in his senior year at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills, NC. He is a drummer, playing in the First Flight High School’s marching band and the First Flight High School Orchestra. Aaron was also previously the drummer for a band with a few friends, but while the other band members have lost interest in continuing the band, Aaron has continued to play the drums and wants to continue on in his music career. He has also recently started composing lyrics and rapping, mostly on topics around clean, drug-free living as well as experiencing and recovering from traumatic brain injuries. He hopes to be able to use his music to broaden understanding of what those experiencing a traumatic brain injury go through, as well as help others who may have experienced a traumatic brain injury through his music.

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Aaron posing with his drumsticks. Photo © Jillian Regan 2017

Aaron has worked so hard to get back to where he was at before in his academics, music, and life, recovering from a traumatic brain injury that happened the summer before his senior year, in June 2017, from a skateboarding accident.

Aaron and his mom, Sharon, made a video to help Aaron’s teachers and others understand what Aaron went through with recovering from his traumatic brain injury. Check out Aaron’s video here, link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp-9DIiIMwg&feature=youtu.be

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Aaron playing music with his really neat drum set! Photo © Jillian Regan 2017

Just imagine being a young, carefree 17-year old having fun skateboarding on summer vacation. Then suddenly having a bad fall off the skateboard and waking up in a hospital bed in an ICU with tubes and IV lines…a few surgeries, having to go through physical therapy, occupational therapy, multiple doctors visits, before and during the start of senior year of high school. Instead of giving up, he, with the support of his family, pushed himself to fight harder, to try harder, to get back to doing the things he was passionate about, like drumming and graphic design.

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Aaron on fire, drumming away! Photo © Jillian Regan 2017

Listening to him play the drums as well as getting to photograph him show off his drumming skills, such as by him throwing his drumsticks in the air and catching them, was amazing to listen to and to watch. Aaron has put in so much effort, and hours upon hours of practice to be able to play the drums at that level of skill! Especially remarkable considering the severity of his traumatic brain injury, only 6 months prior to this photo session, and how much more work he has had to put in to get back to and go beyond the level he was playing at before the injury.

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Aaron showing off his drumming skills, twirling a drumstick around! Photo © Jillian Regan 2017
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Aaron posing by the huge tree with his drumsticks in hand! Photo © Jillian Regan 2017

In addition to his musical talents and aspirations, he is also very talented at graphic design and web design. This entrepreneurial young man has already started creating websites and logos for clients while he’s still in high school! He is planning on a career that combines music — he’ll be composing and recording raps and instrumental music–and technology — such as web design and website development.

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Aaron rocking out on his drum set! Photo © Jillian Regan 2017
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Aaron drumming on the beach! Photo © Jillian Regan 2017

Aaron also is caring and compassionate as shown by his love for animals; we got a photo of him with the family dog, a sweet lab/golden retriever mix named Cookie. Cookie has been a part of the family since Aaron was young, although she is an older lady now, she was still up for joining in the photo session fun!

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Aaron posing with the family dog, Cookie! Photo © Jillian Regan 2017
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Cookie joining in the photo session fun and getting her photo taken, too! Photo © Jillian Regan 2017

I hope Aaron’s story has inspired you! He could teach us all a lesson about not giving up, trying harder, working hard. His can do attitude will take him far! I can’t wait to see where he goes, no doubt we can expect amazing things from him!

Leave a comment below to wish him the best in his future or if you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic brain injury, share your story in the comments below!

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Aaron posing with his drumsticks standing on one of the tree limbs of the giant tree near his house that he grew up climbing on. Photo © Jillian Regan 2017
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Aaron’s drumming is on FIRE! Photo © Jillian Regan 2017
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Aaron drumming away on his drum set. Photo © Jillian Regan 2017
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Aaron’s drums, sticks, sunglasses, and class ring with fire! Photo © Jillian Regan 2017
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Aaron rocking out on his drum set. Photo © Jillian Regan 2017

End of the photos! Now share your thoughts in the comments below! Wish Aaron the best in his future  or if you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic brain injury, share your story in the comments below!

One Reply to “A high school senior portrait session in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with a talented and hardworking young man we could all learn from”

  1. Thank you for such wonderful senior pictures. After this accident and his
    recovery I wanted his pictures to represent him. His growing up on the OBX and his love of music. Thank you Jillian for doing such a wonderful job . Aaron is an inspiration to us all! ❤️

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