The entirety of this year was one big WTF. Overall, 2017 has been an absolute shit-show for almost everyone I know, and just when one thought things couldn't get any worse, they somehow did. For me, that cycle repeated from March to November without any real sign of letting up. 2017 has, in many ways, left me completely exhausted, but what has taken the brunt of it all, was my work.
In a given calendar year, I will normally shoot somewhere between 20-30 shoots, big and small - even while school is in session. This year, with all mini-sessions included, I have only shot twelve. Of those twelve, only four have been completed enough to have seen the light of day, which is incredibly rare. Especially for me.
I have been the definition of uninspired.
Which is why, when I found out that a friend of mine was going to be making her Broadway debut, I knew that I needed to run away to New York City.
New York is one of those places that has always made me happy, no matter the circumstance. It might have something to do with the way people interact with one another, or the fact that everyone is following their own hustle, trying to reach for their big dream. I have never once left the city feeling uninspired - every trip has always brought me something wonderful. And this trip was no different.
I arrived in New York on the 16th to an overwhelmingly large amount of traffic...which really shouldn't have been a surprise to me, but yet was. When I finally got parked and checked in, I had very little time to race around to look a little more human, before my first shoot. I met with Danica Dane, who Nina e-introduced me to, two years ago. We shot some glamour/boudoir work with a bodysuit from Trashy Lingerie that she hadn't used yet.
After we finished shooting, we headed out for dinner at Empanada Mama (which, if you haven't been there - you should go. It's good), and I got to hang out with her until it was time for me to run off to see my show.
I headed over to the August Wilson Theatre and for the first time, this whole season, I started to feel like the holidays were upon us. Bianca Ryan, Candice Glover, Josh Kaufman, Peter Hollens, Evynne Hollens, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Danny Aiello all put on such a magical show. And their happiness and their music squashed whatever negativity 2017 had brought me. It was wonderful to see my friend, Bianca, on stage and immersed in her element, surrounded by tremendous talent. (And if you are in NYC, you have until the 30th to see the show! The code GIFTSONG gives you 30% off tickets!)
I went back to my hotel feeling a lot happier and lighter even. As though the crud of 2017 was beginning to wash away and NYC was starting to work its magic on me.
The next morning I was up bright and early for a shoot with Dr. Sandra LaMorgese - who Nina accidentally introduced me too, after Sandra interviewed Nina back in March and Nina sent over one of my images to be included with said interview.
The shoot that day, which had taken a few weeks to plan, lasted 5.5 hours - which was the longest shoot of 2017 - and resulted in five wardrobe changes, lots of laughter, some fantastic shots and a publication with the HuffPost!
On my last day in NYC, at a friend's urging, I stopped by B&H to see if I could score a holiday deal on a new camera. My trusty Canon 5D Mark II has been with me since the portrait side of my career started - seven and half years ago. Now the shutter is dying, which makes shooting slow and causes some of the images to not be as in focus as they should be. So it was time to look for something new.
I walked in and wandered up to the second floor - marveling at the sheer number of electronics being housed in one building. I made my way over to the Canon table and the person I was matched with, to help me, was none other than Pierre Scherman.
Pierre Scherman the Vogue photographer...the so-called "King of New York" from the late 1970's to the late 90's - and a man who has worked in all kinds of fashion for an incredible twenty-five-year long career.
He's retired from photography now and works at B&H so that he can "appreciate all the new talent" - he says. He marvels at the constantly changing and improving technology that surrounds photography these days. We talked for over an hour. He told me about his time working with Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta, his shoots in Uruguay, and how he's been around the world "at least fifteen times by now" - and how what you could do then - in the 70's/80's for a shoot, you couldn't do now thanks to changing laws and near-nonexistent access to the places that made a shoot magical. He also talked about his time at Vogue - French, Italian and English.
I showed him some of my more recent work - headshots with actress Ashley Mary Nunes in downtown LA, my latest promotional video which features Roarie Yum, London Lovless, Lara Jade and more. He told me that he sees real potential and that it's clear that I have a passion for photos; that I go for the emotion and the authenticity of a person.
*tears up* That's all I really want people to take away from my work - knowing that what they are seeing, even for a split-second, is someone real and authentic.
He told me to keep at it because he could see me "being big" one day. I was stunned.
When I started photography, nine years ago, I never, ever, thought it would last this long. I never thought that it would turn into what it has become. Initially, I was given a camera as a distraction from some significant trauma that I had endured and that I was to use it to focus my energy into something postive - give me something to do. What it has turned into has become a healing journey. A way for me to get to know other people's life stories and make something beautiful with each individual that I meet. It's a way for me to tell their story and make sure that people are both seen and heard.
And there...right in front of me, was a man who has worked with everyone you could think of, verbally affirming my dream. If he thinks all this work has potentional, then perhaps I really need to stop doubting myself and just go after the things I want.
This new camera, the one that Pierre, himself, sold me, now represents a new journey and will carry the words of wisdom from someone who has seen and done it all.
And all of this...because I decided to go to NYC, and ended up walking into the B&H on 9th.
When I tell you that that city has always been magic for me, the above is exactly why. I no longer feel the weight of the misery that 2017 brought me, and I've been reawakened and once again inspired to create. I've met incredible people while in those city limits - and this time was no different.
Thank you to everyone who stopped to chat with me, for those who came to work with me, and to all of those who support everything I do; from the very beginning - to right now. You all make it possible for me to continue this hustle.
Love. Gratitude. Appreciation. I'm filled with all those things.
Have a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays and a wonderful, much more positive start to your brand new 2018, year.
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