WE JUST ARE.
“When we accept our own wild beauty, it is put into perspective, and we are no longer poignantly aware of it anymore, but neither would we forsake it or disclaim it either.
Does a wolf know how beautiful she is when she sleeps? Does a feline know what beautiful shapes she makes when she sits? Is a bird awed by the sound it hears when it snaps open its wings?
Learning from them, we just act in our own true way and do not draw back from or hide our natural beauty. Like the creatures, we just are, and it is right.”
-Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Book Recommendation: Women who run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Note: You have to be ready for it. And by “ready”, I mean you need to be emotionally mature enough to have lived through some heavy stuff, learned from it, and have achieved a developed sense of self awareness. I couldn’t have read this book even 3 years ago. Now that I was ready to receive the lessons, it is the single most powerful piece of literature I’ve ever read and I cannot stop recommending it to my wolf pack of fierce females.
“I brought a playlist”…. she said proudly, as if I were her teacher and she’d been the only one in the class who knew the answer. This 51 year old goddess is quite the student, you see. Not only did she attend one of my workshops and watch another live broadcasted workshop of mine, she also had a full day one-on-one mentorship with me the day after her shoot, and happens to have 3 degrees from Stanford. No big deal, right?
When this professional answer-seeker, photographer, and mother of four told me of her love for empowering herself through movement and dance, I had her hit “play” on her playlist. I picked up my camera and what started as poses quickly turned to movement. I encouraged her to flow, and did she ever. It was so incredibly beautiful and also fairly difficult to stop myself from peeking at every single image as I captured it….but I didn’t want to miss a single movement.
Over the course of a single song, I captured over 300 frames of this powerhouse….
…and she was so free.
It was exquisite.
Video song credit: Gerson Lopes
SHOOTING IN MILAN WITH A LATVIAN BOMBSHELL.
Ohhhh it sounds so glamorous, doesn’t it!? I’m not going to pretend like it wasn’t.
While in Milan, I was booked for a shoot with a fantastic photographer, Liana from Latvia, who had followed my work for years and had to take advantage of me being way closer to her than a Latvia > United States trip would be. She booked a little getaway to Milan for herself and her husband, and we had an absolutely incredible shoot.
Listening to Liana tell me why she selected me to photograph her, gave me a reaffirming grasp for what my work says about the women featured in it. She told me that she didn’t want some distorted view of herself, or an overly glamorous one. She loved my black and white work, and that the women weren’t overly retouched. She loved the editorial/fashion style of my work and was so enthusiastic about the entire process. So we rocked out ALL those different facets and created magic together.
We laughed a TON, flowed like crazy, took what felt like 3 million images, ran way over on time, and shot until the sun would no longer let us. Then we hit the hotel bar for a little libation and a chat between now-friends as I was in NO hurry whatsoever to navigate my navigationally-challenged self back to my house .
"I knew it would be an amazing experience, but it actually far exceeded that. The easiness of feeling completely free in your bare skin- it is life changing! And then, when the images do come in and you get to see all your badassness - well, not many things in life can make you feel like that."
"The good old term “self love” has gotten materialized. Subtle and not so subtle changes in all levels of self awareness, which was not the goal, however turned out to be a major bonus. The best money ever spent (way above shoes and bags and other feminine treats 😁)!"
"It all came together in a best possible way." -Liana
I ADORE my studio, I do. I love it love it love it. I know every nook and cranny, I can photograph a woman there in 3 zillion ways, and because I know all of those ways so well, I can do it in record time. But there’s something to be said about a shoot in a new place. New inspiration, new light, new shapes, new lines, new shadows. It’s all the reason why I will ALWAYS opt to schedule “work” any place I travel to, because I ALWAYS adore the outcome so much.
Thank you so very much, Liana, for choosing me, for traveling for me, for trusting me, for laughing with me and not at me when I made a fool of myself (how many times did I fall???), and for allowing me to share your images and your experience with the world.
Until next time!