Who run the world? Barbara for one. We met while working on the same team at a previous company, and she hasn’t stopped being a mover and a shaker since. I often find myself hoping to snag a bit of her time just to soak up her undeniable energy. Her curiosity about the world and desire to curate meaningful and beautiful products means she always has a new project up her sleeve. This session happened during the ten minute break between her work and kettlebell training because she has a life to live. Need new head shots? Let’s do a fast professional session that lets you get back to what really matters: shaping the world with your unique voice.
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I'm not someone whose athleticism will lead a team to victory (yes, I'm looking at you, Holy Angels volleyball team). I battled through softball solely for the participation trophies. I quit basketball in ninth grade once girls started catching up to the 5' 11" height I had rocked since sixth grade. I twisted my ankle playing intramural badminton in college. I have never heard someone refer to me as coordinated or light on her feet. So it should come as no surprise that during Brady and Sheng's dreamy autumn engagement session I fell off the edge of the sidewalk dropping my camera and smashing my knee in the process. It probably wouldn't have been quite as dramatic had said sidewalk not been designed on a fairly steep hill, if I didn't faint when I see blood...and had I not just met this couple five minutes before this happened.
I wasn't planning on getting a cat. How many times have you heard that from someone? In truth, I was happily living the life of a 20s something when my friend found a kitten abandoned in a box in an alley. I made the mistake of looking into his wide blue eyes and was toast. On the plus side, Fitzgerald (named for one of my favorite writers) was a pet who wouldn't mess with my beloved happy hour schedule. He's been hanging around for nearly five years now and his lifestyle is the reason I can't quit my job; one of us has to pay the bills. He is difficult and fluffy. Half the time he wants my attention only to grumble at me when he finally gets it. I never tell men about him until at least our seventh date because #catlady. But Fitzgerald still snuggles with me each evening and is a bright spot in my life which is why I never object to furry buddies like Grace's sweet puppy attending sessions.
I adored the outfits Anna selected for her session, to say nothing of how much I adored Anna herself. She floated into the studio with an effortless grace and easy smile. We had rescheduled her original session due to a sports injury (hers, not mine, as I don't have an athletic bone in my body) and it was another reminder of how grateful I am to have a space that allows for so much flexibility. Because this just in: LIFE HAPPENS. And plans are adjusted. And we all keep moving just fine.
You guys. It's -300 degrees today. Okay, not quite. But it's the type of cold that causes your whole body to shrink when you step outside, your skin to fall off and grade school caliber chapped lips. Ergo, -300 degrees. Yay Minnesota. While I could spend more time examining why I stay here (and the reasons are many), I'd much rather focus on Helen and remember the golden warmth of her session. Quite simply: she's lovely. Kind, easy going, can rock any outfit - what more could a photographer want? She took a chance and moved half way across the country before her senior year of high school. Brave. And yet, something tells me she's going to be just fine, as long as she has an extra warm parka.
A taxi driver. A lawyer. A singer. No, no – a chef. Maybe a teacher? The truth is that I wanted to be hundreds of different things while growing up. As I got older and my world expanded, the list of possibilities seemed endless. Around middle school I solidified my love of history and from the time I had my first set of braces until I was well into college, I wanted anything and everything to do with public history. It’s the type of history that focuses on archival work, exhibits, even the historical markers along freeways. I built a pre-Pinterest-era board in my imagination of what my life would be. I’d live in Washington D.C. and slowly but surely climb my way up the ranks to running the National Archives. In true bright-eyed, optimistic college student fashion, I wrote my senior thesis on how women in their early 20s who moved out west on their own to homestead in 1900 viewed their femininity. This was also around the time I wanted to name all my children after presidents. You get the picture. When I was about four months shy of getting my college degree, I spent a semester focusing on public history work. Newsflash: it wasn’t what I imagined. It was drafty and unglamorous. I saw way too many spiders. I spent hours combing through boxes of records in poorly lit government basements trying to find one small piece that could connect to another small piece to tell a quasi-interesting story. In a flash I understood that I could love history and that I didn't need to make it my career; which eventually led me down the path of a photographer and marketer who still scopes out each history museum at each new city she visits. High school seniors are in the thick of discerning their next adventure. Some will go on to do exactly what they think they’ve been wanting to do since they were small, and others will create a very different life. Both are wonderful; both are right. Hearing what each senior hopes for the future is still one of my favorite parts of working with them.
Sundays are my favorite. I used to dread them because it felt like I really only had a half day by the time the prep for week (laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping) was done. But then I started treating it like a full day and soaking up every moment. I had another cup of coffee at brunch, I went for longer walks, I spent extra time at my parents' house. The laundry and the grocery shopping and the cleaning moved to other days of the week. Changing the way I approach Sundays also lets sessions like this happen; meeting Eleanor was the perfect way to cap off a week. This gem laughed at my jokes (when they really aren't that funny) and climbed over everything and anything I asked her to in North Loop.
I love schedules because planning calms me. I like knowing exactly where I need to be when I need to be there, and what’s coming next. My little planner (yes, a real-live-carry-around-with-me-not-on-the –computer-planner) is my constant companion. Maybe photography and I get along well together though because it’s a break from structure when I need it most. When everything aligns just right, I stop thinking about schedules and time during a session (breaks from rigidity are always good, right?) and it becomes a chance to be in the moment and see what can happen when I’m not thinking about the next thing. Meghan is pure joy. It was easy to stay in the moment with her because of her kind grace. I could have spent hours with her, but all good things must come to an end. Now, I’m off to my 9:00am meeting; my planner says it’s time to go.
There are people you meet and you immediately try to figure out how soon you can ask them (without freaking them out) to share cocktails over happy hour. How soon is too soon? Will I come off as needy? Clingy? What if I just think they are a hoot and want to spend more time with them? Shawna and I laughed our way through her session and she's exactly the type of person I want to go to happy hour with and talk about life and careers. Now I just need to find a way to convince her that spending a Thursday after work with me is the best idea of the week. Luckily, happy hour specials in Minneapolis make that a very tempting offer indeed.
I've been reminiscing lately about high school. Despite my awkward height, the scratchy uniform skirts, the braces, and endless homework assignments, I loved those four years. Looking back at that time, I appreciate that I was able to learn about myself, try new things, make my first big decisions...all within the safety of living at home surrounded by family and friends.
There's no word other than joy to explain working with high school seniors like Lexi. I spent our time together soaking up her enthusiasm and vivaciousness. She's driven, smart and kind. But the greatest part of working with seniors? They seem to be the best at both living in the moment and waiting in excited anticipation for the future. It's a skill that I envy and one that I plan to make more of an effort to practice.
I am very much an introvert. This probably doesn't come as a surprise to most now that I think about it. It especially wouldn't surprise my family, who recently gifted me the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (I highly recommend this book, by the way, regardless of which end of the personality scale you fall on). As I've grown older, I've become more comfortable recognizing when I need time to myself and no longer apologizing for spending a night in or going on a solitary adventure.
Yet when I'm working with a client during a session, it's the happiest place for me and alone time is the furthest thing from my mind. I usually wish I could spend a whole day with clients instead of our session time to continue to learn everything about them. Spending a late summer evening with Dominique was such a gift; I'm always grateful when clients are willing to trust me with capturing them through images.
What do you do when one of your friends (especially one so beautiful inside and out) asks you to capture memories of her with her mother? You don't hesitate and in fact, you jump at the chance. Alice Walker once observed, "How simple a thing it seems to me that to know ourselves as we are, we must first know our mothers' names." After meeting Joan, it's no wonder why Barbie is kind and graceful with a wonderful laugh. It makes me feel a bit nostalgic tonight about my own mother. Granted, she only lives about thirty minutes away, but we haven't had a yoga night or wine date recently and lord knows it's been too cold lately to go on walks together. Nevertheless, I'm reminded of how important these close relationships are and how my world feels slightly off when I haven't spent much time cultivating them. So if you need me, tonight I'll be researching when Art in Bloom is happening this year at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, one of my most favorite annual traditions with my mom.