meredith: a portrait in three acts / west hartford, ct
July 23, 2018
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
It’s the first line on the about page of this blog, and it constantly takes on new meaning and continues to inspire me—yet so often I forget to really think about what it means.
People are like places. You never really know what you’re going to find, and the more time you spend with them, the more you learn about them.
I rarely go into a shoot exactly sure of what I’ll come out with.
But then—what do you ever really go into and know exactly what you’ll come out with? And—would you even want to?
I didn’t know Meredith well before our shoot. We’d met a few times, chatted a little, but that was about it. So when I got the opportunity to shoot with her, I was excited.
I knew she was a tap dancer, and had a really specific idea of how I wanted the shoot to turn out—bold colors, lots of energy, etc. But—about 10 minutes into our shoot, something happened & my vision shifted. I still wanted some bold, colorful, loud, pop-inspired shots, but—there was a sweetness to her. A quietude. An introspective quality.
It was something I hadn’t considered—but of course, there it was. And it made perfect sense. She doesn’t dance for us—she dances for her. At least that’s how I came to understand it.
So I asked her to stay a while and let me keep shooting beyond what we had planned for. It took me a long time to edit through this shoot, because even as I edited the images, my vision continued to change. I revisited it two, three, four times.
Finally, it clicked.
It seemed to me it was really three shoots, each telling a different part of Meredith’s story—each presenting a different piece of her—as if she were a play, told in three acts.
This shoot was a journey, not a destination. And with that, I give you Meredith: A Portrait in Three Acts.
The first act we were just getting to know each other—this was the opening act, each of us warming up to one another, improvising—me with my camera and her with her taps. I asked her not to pay attention to me, to just dance. We focused on our respective crafts, thinking, improvising, working it out. It didn’t make sense to me in color; this act only felt right to me in black and white.
The second act we changed scenes. We played outside, unscripted, unplanned. There was less thinking here, more playfulness. There was more room out here, so I stepped back, and let her do her thing. There was an air of confidence that came out here–she was calm, collected, relaxed, effortless.
The third act we went back into the studio. We stopped dancing & relaxed—here was the bold, colorful look I’d envisioned to begin with—it suddenly made more sense. This part of her personality came out naturally after the first two acts. She gave me cheeky gestures and expressions, and put on the shoes most special to her—much to my delight, they were bright red.