Sophia and Troi Feinberg. Ava Renz. Rosamund Deutsch. Juliet Doherty. Lauren Carfolite. While I’m taking their portraits I consider them all grown women but in fact they are “just girls”. Troi and Rosie are 8th graders. I took a lot of pictures of the girls in my school when I was their age.
The more mature girls seemed so much older than me at that time but they were still “girls”. Most giggled or turned away when I pointed my camera in their direction. I remember one time chasing Marla Lieberman down the school’s hallway trying to take her picture. She finally eluded me by running into the girl’s bathroom. I’m not sure I eve got a decent picture of her. Only Cheryl Palles was different. She sat in the row next to me in 7th grade. When I took Cheryl’s picture her gaze was calm and focused. I was too young at the time to know how special she was. In high school Cheryl became a superb actress and I photographed her performing in different roles. For a while we were both pursuing our crafts in New York City and I was fortunate enough to photograph Cheryl again while she lived here. Now all the young girls seem to be like Cheryl. Point a camera in their direction and they’re ready with 100 poses. I call it the “Facebook effect” but it has to be more than that.
These young women can be so mature it’s a bit disconcerting at times. I wonder how I’d handle it as a father? I spent a lot of time with Juliet Doherty and her Mom, Krista, during the last week of December. We did three shoots together, taking many thousands of pictures. The three of us instantly became good friends and talked a lot during the shoots. Sometimes, if I closed my eyes and listened to their conversation, it was hard to tell who was the mother and who the daughter. Juliet was so strong, confident and mature. She sometimes seemed to be the Mom.
It’s not quite the same with Sophia and Troi. They’re still “just kids” while Juliet is already a professional dancer born into a family of professionals. But Sophia and Troi were born to a professional photographer mother who has the strength of Job.
Sophia, at 7, already has a better sense of her own style than most grown women. There’s the soul of an 80 year old residing in that tiny body. Place Sophia in front of the camera and little or no direction is ever necessary. Dare I say she’s perfect? Okay! Sophia is only 99% perfect. She does blink during a photo on occasion.
Troi is more of a real teenager who after 13 years in front of her Mama’s camera knows how to be natural and relaxed better than any professional model I’ve ever photographed. (Her Mom was just as good in front of the camera.) She does remind me of the girls I photographed when I was that age except Troi never runs from the camera. She absorbs the experience and it makes her stronger.