Lily got in touch with me on behalf of her mom whose 70th birthday was fast approaching.
Jo wanted to do a glamour shoot. She liked the idea of having her hair and makeup done and being pampered, and most of all, having beautiful photos of herself she could proudly pass on to her grown kids to commemorate her life.
In person, Jo is a petite, energetic woman who raised four children on her own working the night shift as a lab technician at a local hospital. She doesn’t do much Internet surfing. Doesn’t own a working computer and isn’t into fuss and fanfare. She isn’t into big self-indulgences. The last time she’d been photographed was ten years ago for a family portrait. This would be a special moment for her. A unique, and well-deserved self-celebratory experience.
We met over coffee early one morning to chat about her photoshoot and how she dreamt of being photographed. This was her session and her input was key. We talked over some of the details. Other than being photographed wearing her medical scrubs, she hadn’t really thought of what else she wanted to wear. So we agreed that she’d rummage through her clothes and allow herself a little shopping spree if she needed to spruce up her wardrobe.
She wasn’t thinking props nor concepts, all she just wanted was some nice portraits of herself, from the waist up. But I could sense that beneath her breezy, unassuming attitude peeked through a playful and sassy lady who was ready to have some fun.
So I prodded. Offered some ideas, asked a few more questions about images she had come across that might inspire her. Perhaps something she’d seen in a magazine. She thought for a moment and then said she had liked a photo on my site of a woman surrounded by her shoe collection. She herself owned lots of different purses, could we maybe do a portrait with her purses?
A few weeks later she had bought a couple of simple, pretty outfits and from her closet, selected a beautiful gold silk ensemble she has owned for decades and still cherished. She said it made her feel elegant and like her best self. We finalized her choices via a quick FaceTime call and her daughter, Lily, and I selected a natural light studio in downtown LA that would provide enough nooks and crannies for some visual variety.
For the first time in years - and at Lily’s behest - Jo took a couple of days off from work in order to rest up and feel refreshed for her session.
I got to photograph Jo for nearly three hours. She was funny and patient and full of enthusiasm. We flowed through four outfits and a variety of poses and backdrops. I wanted to capture her girlish spark yet allow her the space to express the more quiet and solemn aspects of her nature. She exudes a deeply rooted strength coupled with a calm weariness that I wanted to honor. Whether she ended up desiring those images of herself or not.
We ended her session with the purse shot. Her glee and exuberance shine through in these images. Partly because the purses reflect her happy place, partly I believe, because she was gifted a rare moment to bask in her own self-delight.
My hope is that Jo, Lily and the rest of the family will look at these photographs for years to come and be reminded that in spite of the long years of dedication to work and motherhood, she remains a vibrant woman full of unfettered joy and beauty.
To learn more about booking a shoot or gifting a portrait session to a loved one for a post-Covid date and time, please call 310.622.4580 or email nicolette@NJPphotography.com.