I have photographed Anne O’Donnell five times but until now I haven’t been able to write about her. Our shoots, and her emotions while we work, are complex. Anne is so different each time she walk’s in my door. After every shoot my mind is flowing with thoughts about her…I just can’t put them down on paper. Anne surprises me. We’ve become friends but I’m not sure I know her. I imagine I will need to write a series of essays to match Anne’s various moods.
Each shoot with Anne is amazing! I don’t know where her spirit and soul come from. (I always tell her she must have been raised by great parents.) Maybe this is why I have trouble writing about her. My “muse” Anne is so different from my “friend” Anne. It confuses me as I pull out more of her personality each time we get together. After 15,000 pictures, I still can’t figure out why I get the photographs of Anne that are captured in my viewfinder.
For some reason I was incredibly emotional during our most recent shoot. I had a lot of ideas I wanted to accomplish and with each success I would break out in a smile, giggling for no apparent reason. At first Anne thought I must be laughing at her. I guess I was! Before we began, I told Anne she needed to lead me through the shoot. Typically in advance of a shoot, I’ve seen the pictures in my head. Today it wasn’t happening. I had ideas but the photos in my head were mostly a blur. Anne had to create the images for me.
This was so different from our other shoots where I almost always had an exact image of what I wanted and could lead her on that path. But it was okay. Anne was not in a typical mood herself and seemed happy to drag me artistically along with her.
Now, a few days later, I understand why this shoot was different. Since Anne led the creation of the shoot’s artistic process, it freed me to watch her more, and concentrate less. I saw Anne, the person, sitting in front of me; instead of seeing the muse. When I giggled throughout the shoot it was because I saw her beauty, in the shape of a photograph, with my own eyes…not through the viewfinder. Every time I looked I was captivated by her presence, seeing my photographs existing in life instead of on a computer screen or printed on paper. It made me very happy. Each time, I giggled like a young boy who has discovered with wonder his first waves on the beach or snowflakes falling on his face.
It was special, and I made sure to enjoy every moment. This joy lasted for many hours after the shoot ended and I believe it will change the way I see both my muses and my photography for a long time to come.