Renee and I have been meaning to get together and take photos for a long time, but I actually first met Renee when I was in college. I was in Painting and she came in and introduced herself to the whole class. I didn’t get to interact with her much then, but I remember being drawn to her energy.
We started following each other on Instagram and I fell in love with watching her garden and the other snippets into her world that she posted. Renee contacted me through Instagram to set up a photoshoot, saying that she wanted photographs of herself that captured her energy and who she really was. I was so excited to get a chance to work together and to explore her world even further. We set a date some months away and swapped emails back and forth about how excited we were and location ideas.
I wanted to come to her and see her favorite spots, places that were special to her. This is where people really open up and you can capture their interactions with a place that is familiar and brings joy to them.
The drive to Virginia was beautiful and she introduced me to her two kitties and her dog. We talked while picking out clothing and I learned so much about her within the first hour of being there. With a pile of clothing and props we found around her house, plus what I had brought, we had plenty of options…maybe too many! There were two locations we were going to go to, some old log cabins she had discovered and her special place up on the mountain.
The first thing I do when I start shooting is try and break the ice and suggested she get on top of the cabin, if it felt safe. Being photographed can seem like a huge thing, it makes you feel vulnerable and that can sometimes make us feel uncomfortable. However, being vulnerable is what makes the magic really come through in portraits…which is also true in life.
You are not trying to be someone else. You are you. Renee had such wonderful trust in me that she let herself be open to ideas and me running around, climbing picnic tables to get the right height.
The entire time we talked about everything. We talked about what is important to her, what has been going on with her lately and some of her fears. She then did something wonderful, and asked me about mine. I hardly knew this person and we talked about everything, creativity, love, our beliefs, and what music we liked. All the while, she is driving me around in her truck along gorgeous country roads to the mountain.
The mountain is a place of reflection for Renee and I can totally see why. It is so peaceful there, with vibrant patches of earth. Since she is a gardner, Renee would point out different plants and what they are and what they are used for. She had stories for certain types and made me stop to look as some baby ferns growing. I probably wouldn’t have noticed them otherwise.
Were she may have felt self-conscious before it was evident that she felt at home here.
I kept telling her how I loved her poses and how they seemed to flow through her so organically. She laughed, “This is just how I stand when I am gardening.”
Of course, we did forget one thing. To bring snacks. We started running low on fuel so we made the decision to stop and get some Thai food. It was a good reminder that no matter where we are or how excited we are about what we are doing, it is important to take care of ourselves.
After saying goodbye to the mountain, on the way back to the truck, we saw a car with tiny pebbles on it that spelled “Prom?” As we got in the car we saw a young couple smile and hug. We laughed on how adorable that was and went to eat some food.
Before I left, Renee really wanted to give me a tarot reading, but I learned that she didn’t use what I came to associate as tarot cards. She felt that the art on the cards influenced her readings so she liked the simplicity of reading numbers. I was fascinated by this and had her send me a snapshot of the book that helped her learn.
After having one of the most influential readings of my life while eating delicious pad thai, I had to leave as it was already getting dark. It was crazy that the day went by so quickly! She sent me on my way with a hug and a jar of fresh tulips from her garden. I left with so much gratitude that photography has led me to meet such amazing people and get to connect with them on more than a superficial, small talk level.
I am very grateful that people are willing to be vulnerable and open up to the camera. After I sent the images to Renee she said one of the most incredible things, that she was stuck creativity before the shoot and now she is in a flurry of excitement with wanting to create. These are the reasons I take photographs. Yes, I love creating pretty things, but I love connecting with wonderful people and also showing them that they have creative forces in themselves.
Interested in having a personalized portrait photoshoot like this? Send me a message and we will set something up.