These are some of my favourite photos I have ever taken of anyone. They are the reason I’m so passionate about what I do.
Photography can transform your life. If you learn to let go and bear your soul.
I first met Jess through her coach Brandon. She wanted some photos done so she could remember her third place finish in her first ever figure competition. The work of a physique athlete is very demanding. The dedication is insanely immense and time on stage unimaginably short.
Too short, if you ask me.
You get about ten minutes of stage time in front of a cheering crowd and some ridiculously blinding lights. You share that ten minutes with everyone else but you do get about sixty seconds to pose and show off your physique. After that it’s gone. Gone forever.
It is very sad how physique athletes who work so hard and create such amazing curves treat professional photos as an after thought, or find it a luxury to hire an exceptional photographer. Jess and I met for the first time at a local gym. It was a wonderful session. She was so proud of what she was able to accomplish that she booked me again a year later after competing at the provincial championships.
This time we left the limited space of the florescent gym, and traded it all in for beautifully sunny weather and the vast open space of a beautiful boardwalk. This session was even better than the first. Jess was more confident and we were able to share a few laughs. Jess even fielded some curious questions by some seniors from a near by home who were out for their daily walk.
I’m not exactly sure when it was but a few months after I saw Jess post a photo of herself without her wig. She was brave enough to share her struggle with alopecia. Alopecia is is a non life threatening disease which cases partial or complete absence of hair.Jess has struggled with alopecia her entire life, and although I was aware of her condition, I had no idea how beautiful she was without her wig.
I asked her if she would do a photo session with me. No cost. Just for the fun of it. She hesitated because she didn’t think she was in optimal shape and wasn’t sure about taking of her wig. A selfie is one thing, but feeling vulnerable under bright Elinchrome lights is another.
But she agreed and we met in this quaint little heritage school house I booked for the day.
I remember clearly indicating to Jess that she was going to pose without her wig but I was surprised to see her wearing it and making no effort to remove it. She was very shy and self conscious and I wasn’t going to push.
I took a few test photos. We chatted for a bit and I reminded how amazing she looked in that instagram photos I saw of her.
With a little more encouragement she put on her red comfy sweater and removed her wig.
I’m not sure how early into the session I decided to share some of the images with her, but when I did, she cried. I will never forget that. I don’t do well when people show deep emotions in front of me, but this was different. This was so powerful because I saw Jess see perhaps for the first time how I saw her and what she saw and what I saw were not aligned. At least not until that moment.