Among all the emotional photography I had an honor of crafting before, this session is part of the most delicate and evocative project.
Allow me to preface with a quick observation. Audra is one of the exemplary ladies around their 50s who proudly express their character, body, and emotions through my art of photography. These clients crashed a common “my time is gone” stamp. And remarkably, all of them were African-American, like in this 50th birthday shoot. My hat is off to you for your poise, ladies.Esoteria: A Deeper Take on Fine Art Portraits“, undoubtedly one of my most elaborate and thoughtful works. Prior to finding me, she was going to get the “normal” photo shoot because she thought what she wanted didn’t exist.
She lost a loved one last year, a son of a pastor and a retired educator, a politician from Baltimore, MD and frequent Republican candidate who challenged Rep. Elijah E. Cummings in two campaigns, and who ran for Senate and president. He died of a heart attack at age 51. Audra’s tribute/memorial idea started out as the basic slideshow of pictures of him and songs. He created over 60 video chats for her so she later thought of adding them to the video. He liked her voice so she went to the recording studio and recorded a song for the video as well. Finally, she has a video of her dance performed as a grad student in NYU, also to become a expressive part of the tribute. With so many powerful components of the project, simple portraits would no longer be enough and she contacted me to help with the emotional photography.
To fit the mood, we were going after several portraits depicting sadness and loss in time. She also wanted to show beauty and glam because at the end of her video a recording of her lost loved one is saying “I thank God for bringing that beautiful lady into my life.”
Selecting the location was a challenge. We contemplated on various approaches and opted for an indoor location. Emotional photography can be beautifully and strongly done in a studio with minimal distractions, focusing on just the emotions—even a few props would not distract. Audra, however, is someone who goes all-out on a creative project. She had suitcases of props to help frame her emotions so a more environmental setup was in order. As I wrote in my editorial on photo permits and shoot locations around NYC, one of such places could be a hotel. Audra’s diligence led her through several walk-throughs which I could also virtually attend, and we chose The Inn at Irving Place, a sophisticated, Victorian-inspired hotel set in a pair of 1834 brick townhouses on a low-key street south of Gramercy Square.
The session was only four hours long with time-consuming but marvelous makeup changes by Vesta to coordinate with the wardrobes. I’d say a full day engagement would be even more empowering for such a deep emotional photography but I believe we achieved the goal. I can hardly wait to see what Audra will produce once all the creative pieces are put together. Will be honored to feature the result here if possible.
If you, my reader, wish to explore emotional photography, be it a sorrow or happy occasion, this week is a great time to part with your wishful thinking. 🙂 For a few more days, I’m running a promotion to help me with fundraising for the ZORPHOTOUR project. Through this Sunday, May 20, 2018, you can pre-purchase that liberating full-day photo adventure for the price of half-day session! My newsletter subscribers are offered an even bigger discount but for that, you need to be on the mailing list. 🙂
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