I am honored to be one of 10 photographers featured in FoundFolios April FoundXPOSED portraits campaign released today. I am very happy they selected the image of Juanita. Out of all of the photo’s I have taken, this is still one of my favorite portraits. So I thought it would be cool to tell the story of how this image came about:
I was originally supposed to be in Washington, DC on a week long advertising campaign, but our shoot was rained out. We decided to push the production a few weeks so at the last minute, I had some free time. Since I was already supposed to be out of town, I decided to shoot some personal work. My studio manager would be in studio and my clients thought I was out of state, so why not hit the road? I’ll never forget my brief encounter with Juanita. (click HERE to read the original blog post from 2009) I came across her in Globe, AZ on the first day of my roadtrip.
I packed up my vehicle with gear and food, and intended to be gone for 2-3 days. I planned on sleeping in my Honda Element (the seats convert into a full length bed) to save money and get the full ‘road trip’ experience. As you can read in the original blog post, unfortunately… that didn’t quite happen. On the first day out I got called back for 2 shoots that I couldn’t pass up. The amazing thing is that I ended up photographing 5 individuals on the first day. I came across Juanita near a cafe’ in an alleyway. I approached her and showed her a few images in my portfolio (pre iPad). A bit hesitant at first, she agreed to allow me to take her portrait.
As you can see in the image above, she has a beautiful – striking presence about her. You cannot help but be drawn in. The untruth of photography is that she was rather self conscious about being photographed. (as we all are at times – why do you think I’m behind the camera) She had dental issues and she didn’t want her teeth to be seen. I promising that I wouldn’t show them, and she agreed to be photographed. I then set up one light and led her to the apple box for her to sit. Here’s where it gets good… Just as I was about to begin the session, she started calling out to her ‘spirits’ and began speaking in a strange language. She then started waving her hands in a circular motion towards herself, as if to tell whatever she was calling out to, to come within her. This lasted for no more than 5-10 seconds and then she was ready.
It was a rather strange experience to say the least. But I just stood there and took it all in. Come on..where else are you going to have that happen directly in front of you? I almost photographed her doing that but I decided not to. At first it was more out of shock but then it was more out of intrigue to see where it would lead. And I’m glad I didn’t take advantage of that situation. Allowing her to have her moment, allowed me to capture this portrait of her. Strange none the less, but beautiful in the end.
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