I had so much fun shooting with Gia yesterday. Her laughter, smile and those incredibly expressive eyes. In the days leading up to our session. She sent me a couple of pictures of models dressed in flowing raps. (Imagine saffron robes blowing in the sahara winds.) While she never managed to track down the material. The idea stayed fresh even as we had begun our shoot. When it came time to change into the next outfit. She asked if I had any sheets we could use as a substitute. Thinking on my feet. I decided to use on of my photo backgrounds instead. Wrapping it around her upper . I had her friend hold the the ends. Creating somewhat of a loving tug of war. Notice the smile and the playful exchange she’s having.
When my long time friend and favorite expatriate messaged me that she would be returning to New Jersey for a short, yet important visit. I knew the odds of me seeing her this time around, let alone catching up on her three years in Germany were about as good as the Cleveland Indians winning the World Series. Still, any chance to see such an old and dear friend was worth taking. Imagine my surprise when she was both available and looking forward to indulging me in one of my truest passions, studio photography. The hours we spent together were more of a gab session with me sneaking in a shot or two whenever I could.
Having met Mandy in the parking lot of a strip mall adjacent to my high school when I was sixteen. The likelihood of us ever becoming friends seemed improbable to say the very least. Yet, despite being polar opposites we became trusted, close friends before long. Supporting one another through sickness and health.Through the good times and bad. She’s been a huge supporter and influence on me as a photographer and as a volunteer to worthy causes. She’s one of the few people in my life who crosses the lines between friends and family. One’s that, no matter the distance or time. Remain, unspoken, an integral part of my life. And as my Mother put it “Damn, that woman does not age.” Looking at this picture. I think it highlights both her beauty and unwaning strength. I’m incredibly grateful for having the chance to catch up with her. One of Jersey’s best, no matter where she goes.
Having worked with Tory on two separate occasions. We’ve worked towards creating some noteworthy images. Ones that displayed both her talent and beauty. Strangely enough, each of the two sessions left me scratching my head, thinking, she is far more beautiful than I’ve portrayed her to be. Far to beautiful to be hiding under all the clothes and makeup that only serve to mask any of her beautiful features.. Just an opinion, but one that cried out, begging for redemption on my part. For, in my heart of hearts. I had failed in not portraying her as the beautiful woman I saw her as.
Armed with ideas and a sense of determination I reached out. Much to my surprise and slight confusion, she not only agreed, but thanked me for the second (actually third chance.) Knowing, as well as accepting that each individual has their own sense of style and look that they’re comfortable with. It can make for a difficult task in attempting to have someone give in to a look other than their own. In Tory’s case, she made it incredibly easy for me. My suggestion to wear a comfortable tee shirt and go minimal with the makeup could best be equated to a less is more theory. Personally, I felt that those small changes went a long way to bring out her true beauty. I was finally given the chance to see the woman I always envisioned was under the makeup and clothing.
I can’t go without thanking her for both the opportunity and trust she gifted. I’m more than happy to report that I finally got it right.
I’ve met a lot of unique and beautiful people in my lifetime. Though trying to start a conversation with a complete stranger can be a humbling kick in the ego. It can open the doors to to so many new and rewarding experiences. These days I don’t feel all that comfortable speaking myself. Often catching myself stumbling over my words or feeling unable to say exactly what my brain is trying to communicate. Depending on how you look at it. It can be viewed as a positive, negative or both. For me personally, I try to see it as a positive. The positive being I can muster the words and expressions well enough to invite a conversation before letting my ability to listen take foot. Though I didn’t expect it. I find myself enjoying the time I spend with my mouth closed and my ears open. I’ve met some very interesting characters with some really incredible stories to tell. I’ve learned a lot with this little gift. More about the world and it’s people. More surprisingly, I’ve learned a lot more about myself. Most times, a smile, a nod or a simple hello can start a conversation. I took each of these three images within about an hour with the help of those three expressions. Try it some time. You might be surprised by what you get.
Back in 2013 I started a project very close to my heart. Bringing some of my favorite local musicians and artists into the studio for a short bull session and some time under the lights. The concept is a simple one. Photos built around conversation about common interests while chilling out to some good music. Add or subtract a tasty beverage, a favorite musical instrument or article of clothing. Leave the posing guide and glass smiles for the posers and just snap when the moment calls.
On this particular day I had my buddy Frank from the New Brunswick’s Holy City Zoo stop in after work. I met Frank and the band around the same time I started my music blog United By Rocket Science in the Spring of 2011. Since then we’ve formed somewhat of a mutual admiration society. His band has been featured on the blog numerous times. He’s also served us well as a contributor from time to time. Needless to say, I count him as a friend.
Like many of the musicians I’ve met through doing the blog. Frank represents somewhat of a paradox. A complete animal on stage. Frank is intelligent, laid back and soft spoken in person. As we began our session, Frank sheepishly asked “What do I do?” “Nothing” I replied. It was just a chance for me to get to know him a little better than I already do. Most of the people and friends I ask to shoot are ones I rarely get to really talk to in an intimate setting. I see them at bars, shows and on the stage. These sessions allow me to speak the best was I know how. Getting to know the people who make the music I love is a pretty special opportunity. Thanks Frank.