"I want something unique, something I'm not gonna see that everyone else has," Anna told me the first time we talked.
"So nothing generic and kitschy, then?" I asked. "No!" Anna shook her stunning red curls for added emphasis. I smiled. "Good. I don't do generic and I definitely don't do kitschy."
Anna was homeschooled her last few years of high school and is now in college and living a vibrant life teaching gymnastics to young children.
Anna is rough and tumble.
She's not flowers and high heels.
She combat boots and jean jackets.
She's hair in her face, singing loud, and roughin' it up in mud on a sports field.
How do you create portraits for a young woman like this?
"What do you want?" I asked Anna more times than I can remember. And the truth was, there weren't words for what she was looking for.
We spent time going over outfits, looking at pictures from Vogue to National Geographic to a generic search on Instagram.
Nothing really stuck out.
As Anna's photographer I had some concerns. How did this remarkable young woman really want to be seen? How did she want to feel in her pictures?
I spent a lot of time looking for inspiration and going over the notes I had taken when I talked to Anna and her mother.
While I didn't fully know where this shoot was going to go, the phrase that kept coming to mind was 'timelessly unique.'
On Anna's shoot day I let it drive itself.
Sometimes, I have a very clear plan, most times, actually.
But on Anna's shoot day, I just let it rid. Whatever we got, we got.
Whatever the vibe was that's what we ran with.
However Anna acted or whatever her eyes were telling me- that's what I chased.
And ya know what? We created absolutely stunning images!
We created portraits for Anna that none of her friends have. Seniors aren't typically photographed like she was. And she LOVED them!
None of us really knew what we were going to create. Anna knew very clearly what she didn't want . . . but when she saw what we created, that was it.
That was what she was looking for.
We don't always know what we want. But then we'll see it, we'll create it and in a breathless moment of complete delight it's there in front of us. And it's like our soul is on fire, awake to view and fall in love with the beautiful thing we're seeing . . . and in this case, the beautiful thing Anna saw was herself.
And that can change everything.
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