On January 30th, 2019, one of my favorite people to photograph and someone I considered like a best friend, lost her fight against aggressive breast cancer. You may know her or see her in a celebrity light, but she was so much more than that. She was a true earth angel.
Six years ago, I had the chance of meeting the wonderful Diane Gaidry. I was on my way to Vienna, Austria, to perform Andrew T. Miller’s “The Birth of Christ,” and had just discovered Diane’s work. I knew that she did life coaching and I was looking for one, so I reached out. The day before my flight out, I received an email back that she had an opening and would be willing to Skype with me as soon as I got home. I flew to Vienna to live out a dream of singing abroad, on the same steps that Mozart got married on, elated that I could start a new form of healing upon my return.
Over these past six years, Diane became far more than just a life-coach (though she did an excellent job in helping me redirecting my life a few times); she became a best friend. She knew everything about me, and we had so many good laughs and running jokes, but more than that, she became one of my greatest supports during the times when my life fell apart. But the biggest thing was her willingness to protect me, my healing and my happiness. This meant that when a relationship I was in, got incredibly dangerous and out-of-hand, she was the first person to really step up and say “it’s time for a change.” With her help, I was able to relocate to safety. Through the abuse wasn’t entirely over (at that time), I had a place where I could get away, and place where I could feel safer, and feel like I had a home. Eventually, with her help, I was able to transition into a place of pure safety for the first time in four + years. Whenever I thought the outside fear was going to be too great, she’d be there to remind me how to ground myself and bring myself back to the present.
She didn’t like still cameras…it was something that she was uncomfortable with. She liked movement and she liked flow - two things that often come from videos (which was much more her comfort). So it was very difficult getting her to say yes to the kind of photoshoot I wanted to do. I wanted to capture authentic portraits of someone I admired, greatly, as a person. In order to do so, I needed to find a way to have her drop her guard against still cameras. Amazingly, when I got there, she was just as ready as I was, but she was ready to conquer her fear. Knowing that she was in need of movement and flow, we took her [then] dog, Yatahey, with us, and constantly moved through the first few rounds of photos. Soon a natural flow came to life and we were in sync with one another. I’d move, Diane would move, and then there’d be a moment of stillness or happiness that took over and I was able to capture what I saw…the Diane I knew and loved.
Following that shoot, I was, on several occasions present, to see her perform with Torn Space Theatre in Buffalo, NY. Each time I was blown away by her performances. She really embodied the characters that she portrayed - letting herself feel them as their own individual selves and finding way to connect with them in such a strong, and unique fashion. As much as she insisted that she never wanted to be famous, she certainly had been given a gift to be a storyteller and to connect to those that needed those stories.
I’m incredibly honored that my body of work includes some of my favorite photographs of Diane, honored that I got to work alongside her throughout these past six years and even more so that I was able to call her my friend. She really went above and beyond for me in so many ways, and I'm incredibly fortunate to have had her in my world for so long. The portraits that I got to take of Diane, which I share within these words, were incredibly special because they captured who she is to a T. She was a beautiful soul and the living definition of "love and light". The physical world here, is a little dimmer without her shining light, but I know the spiritual one has gained one of the brightest stars I ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Fly high Diane.
October 11th, 1964 - January 30th, 2019
There is a memorial fund set up in Diane’s name. If you are able to contribute, it will greatly help out her husband and step-daughter. Thank you.
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