Photo c/o Chaz Cruz
I’ll never forget being booked to shoot my first fashion editorial campaign in New York City a little over 6 years ago.
It was my first time being booked as head shooter. Instead of being the runner or the assistant, I was the one with the runners and the assistants.
My client rented this huge warehouse in the city for us to shoot at. It had these exposed brick high ceilings and scuffed up wooden floors. It felt like the movies and I was finally playing a lead role.
As I cabbed to the shoot I kept asking myself How did I get from being a girl from the suburbs of Dallas to being a fashion photographer in New York City? Can this really be my life?
When I arrived on set the hair and make-up artists were setting up their tools. Wardrobe was putting together looks, and her assistants were steaming the tens of thousands of dollars worth of gowns that we’d be shooting for the day.
As I was setting up my lighting I kept noticing our model for the day. She was breathtaking. She had the perfect body, and just that model look. She belonged on the cover of magazines. She was beautiful.
As wardrobe pulled at her clothes, and the hair stylist picked at her hair I noticed these quiet little moments where she seemed lonely and almost insecure.
And then I started to notice that no one was really talking to her as much as they were talking at her or about her pretty face. It was almost as if she were invisible.
As the day unfolded in-between looks I started talking with her. I asked her her name: Kira.
I asked her where she was from, and turns out she just had a baby 2 months prior and had already walked New York Fashion Week just weeks after his birth. She completely lit up when she talked about him. It was like she was a different person.
She was more breathtaking in the moments when she was talking about her child than in any pose I had her in.
We just had these small 5-10 minute conversations through out the day, but the more we talked in-between looks the more confident she was in front of the camera.
And I wondered why?
10 hours later when we were all packing up, Kira quietly came up to me, and said “No photographer has ever asked me my name on set. Thank you.”
She gave me a hug and quietly headed out to her cab.
And I stood there stunned.
What was it about me asking this girls name that made her so grateful?
Culture focuses on one facet of beauty: the body. And that can be beautiful, but the reality is that it’s only part of the story.
And isn’t it interesting that this perfectly beautiful model almost could care less when her pretty face was being photographed or talked about. But the second I paused to ask her her name she came alive.
When we collide with someone or something that is beautiful it’s almost like we’ve been given this invitation to see a bigger, more whole picture.
Maybe there’s something significant about our names. Maybe I am not beautiful because of what I look like. But because of who I am.
Is it possible that beauty could encompass more than the skin we live in? If this were true how would it impact your day to day living?