Photography is a lovely art. Not only is it a form of self expression as well as incredibly creative but it also documents history, captures time, strength, beauty, class, endurance, power, love, joy…and everything that it means to be human. I never get bored with my job and almost never unhappy with the final shots, however, there are those rare shoots that come along that remind me why I do what I do and why I love it so much.
Cat Caldwell, a great friend, the owner of Curves fitness center in Driggs, Idaho and all around fabulous woman asked me to be a part of celebrating National Women’s Health Week and come and do photo mini sessions with the members. Of course I was more than happy to do this since women are my favorite subject to photograph. I needed a makeup artist to come and do makeup on the ladies (including false eyelashes…something they were all very excited about!) before their shoot. Cat inquired with Dena Bjoux, a friend & Mary Kay representative, if she would be interested in working with me. She said yes and we were set.
At the time, it’s my understanding that she had zero intentions of being photographed herself. After some debate, the Curves ladies convinced her to sign up for a time slot with me. I called Dena to chat with her about doing hair and makeup and what I wanted before I had met her. She was light hearted and ambitious on the phone and I was excited to be working with her. We talked makeup for a bit and when I turned the conversation to hair she laughed and said “well I don’t know how much help I’m going to be in that area cause I don’t have any hair”. At first I thought she just meant that she had short hair and didn’t ever do it but she went on to tell me that she had lost her hair due to chemotherapy.
Dena is a gentle soul and slightly reserved but defines the words ambitious, gracious, gentle and warrior. When It came time to do her shoot she allowed me to do her makeup and of course the first thing I asked her was if I could photographer her without her head scarf on. She looked at me and said “ugh I knew you were going to ask me that!… sure, go ahead.” I helped her remove her wrap and there before me was the most exquisite embodiment of feminine grace and character that I have ever seen. When her scarf came off it was as if power, and courage and beauty and strength all came flowing out of her beautiful perfectly shaped head. The only thing I could say was “Dena, you are so much more beautiful without your head wrap.” And I meant it.
It’s a scary thing to be in front of a camera but she did it beautifully. I’m not sure she realized what I saw in her at the time but despite that she allowed me to pose and twist and contort her, push her chin forward, pull her arms back and she trusted me to do it. After the shoot she sort of shyly asked me “can I see some of the bald ones?” I smiled inside cause I knew what was coming next. The ladies that were mingling gathered as I showed her the images… There was a little gasp and she brought her hand to her mouth to cover her smile and then her tears.
That moment, that teary moment, is why I do what I do. It’s why I love to photograph. Those tears represent the moment when a woman’s soul is filled with joy when she, in that instant, see’s how God see’s her. Dena’s shoot was God’s gift to me. With all of my heart, I thank you Dena.