When I was in Austin, TX for the Hey Sista workshop, I made it a priority to stay an extra night and get some personal shooting in. Lauren and Ransome, my gorgeous Airbnb hosts my first night in town, have an amazing style and energy that I was so lucky to photograph. Lauren is a vintage collector, artist, dancer… the kind of woman you are just drawn to and can’t stop looking at. Ransome is handsome, kind, and loves this woman so much. Photographing their energy and love for one another is the kind of thing that makes me fall in love with my job and this art all over again.
As artists, sometimes we create things that ruffle some feathers. Honestly, I had no idea that was going to be this project. When I saw Lauren in her vintage collector pieces (including her stunning and tasteful lingerie), I couldn’t get over how excited I was to shoot it in this historical and breathtaking cemetery. It was hard for me to put into words what my intention behind this shoot was, as I’m not fantastic with my words and photographs are my preferred communication method. I received a few comments on these images when I originally posted some that put words to something I didn’t know how to describe: “Reminded me of a beautiful couple of lovers married 50 years reunited after death,” and “the idea of a modern (alive)woman, classically dressed, symbolized an homage to the classics, and respect to the beauty that has already passed on.”
Those two comments nailed what I was feeling during this shoot. I am someone who is very familiar with death and have lost more people close to me than most people my age. I am no stranger to grief or the place of a cemetery in ones grieving process. To say I am naive to what a cemetery can mean to people would just simply be untrue. I know it made a few people uncomfortable she was in lingerie in a cemetery. I get that now. I can see why it would make someone uncomfortable. But this was just one piece of clothing we used create the mood and feeling I was aiming to achieve, and I stand by this art we created. Sometimes things can just be pretty for the sake of the artist enjoying it aesthetically, not everything or every piece of art has some secret meaning or hidden agenda. (PS we were also given permission and let in after-hours, so we were not disrupting anyones experience here).
I am no stranger to death. I love the way other cultures handle death and grieving, particularly the holiday Day of the Dead. I wanted to symbolize joy, life, love, and playfulness. This session pretty accurately describes how I approach my life and work. Even in a setting where plenty of people have shot before, I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to do some dark and gothic shoot like I’ve seen done so many times before. My work is ALL about joy, and this one is no different.
At first, it made me feel anxious, embarrassed, and ashamed that this made some people uncomfortable and some of those people spoke out about it. I even took several posts down because I had never shot anything that received any kind of negative feedback. I didn't know how to handle it. After reflection and some time passing, I’m okay with that. As someone who has made their career out of professional photography and putting work out into the world, I am bound to shoot something that upsets someone. I wouldn’t be being true to myself if I deleted something every time someone had a problem with it. So, this is me putting my big girl pants on, and saying it’s okay. It's okay to be uncomfortable and to put something out there and be vulnerable. Not everyone is going to understand it or connect to this, and that's okay too. I am proud of this and love these images. If it upsets any of you out there that she is in lingerie in a cemetery, I get it. Just don’t look at it.
HUGE thank you to Meagan Bechtel for doing such a beautiful job with Lauren's hair and makeup. Check out more of her work because she is amazing.
Also, Hart Floral, one of our sponsors at the workshop, through this bouquet together out of the remaining scraps around the house. She is a genius and if you are still looking for a floral designer based out of the PNW I highly recommend her.
Enough of my rambling, I hardly ever ever ever use this many words in my blog. Sorry y'all. ENJOY! xo