“I’m really glad I did it. It’s the highlight of my turning 60.”
There’s always this transformational-magical-unfolding-revealing-thing that happens when photos get created. It’s a hard sell because we have no idea what we are actually going to get.
Rhonda Anderson lives in Brisbane and her business is Fit and Well.
After her collection was delivered I said ‘thank you for taking a chance on me.’ (Selfishly, it always blows me away when someone hands themselves over to me to be photographed.)
But actually, here’s the rub:
The decision to ‘go for it’ with photos is really something that comes within you, like a calling if you will. There’s this tremendous phrase which applies so well here ‘if you think it’s about photography then you’ve already missed the point.’
It’s never about photos. Photos are just the thing we spit out at the end. It’s about you, as in, the real, no-bull-shit-who-are-you-really-beneath-the-veneer-you. That’s the essential person who others see in you and love you for. It’s your core, heart, soul, source – you can even call it that you who is in connection with God, if you believe in that type of thing.
An email sent by Rhonda a few months before:
“Hi Beth, I’m thinking that sometime this year I’d like to do a photo shoot with you. I live in Brisbane and don’t currently have any plans to be in Melbourne yet, so this is pretty vague. But if I leave it floating in the ether it might stay that way eternally. So I’m at least being in contact.
The main impetus for doing a shoot is that I’m 60 this year. I don’t much care about a party but I’d like to do something that chronicles who I am at this point.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’d probably be thinking of a time later in the year – when it gets a bit warmer down there!”
And a message she left on voicemail after:
“Hello Beth it’s Rhonda Anderson. I just wanted to give you a quick buzz because I just got in and your package has just arrived today. I’ve just had a look and I think it’s absolutely gorgeous. Thank you so so much. It was a bit of a stab in the dark at the beginning of the whole process when I was thinking maybe I would like to do something. And seeing the results at the end totally indicates that vague idea I had. So, yeah. Just lovely. Stunning job. I’m really glad I did it. It’s the highlight of my turning 60.
Thank you so so so so so much. OK, cheers.”
On a phone call she further added:
“This is not just a bunch of photos. It’s a real story. The text with it, the way you put together the collection of photos with the music and words as well… I’m just, oh gosh! Lovely. I wasn’t expecting something as complete as that. It’s a lot more than I was imagining. It’s a rare thing to sit down and reflect on what’s going on. Pressing pause by recording it all and then having it there. A slice of my life, who I am, what matters.
In the morning when you first arrived it was mostly me racing around trying to be organised for your arrival. It was all a bit unknown really. Yes there was a bit of concern about being photographed, but that’s all perfectly normal too! I may have been a bit jittery around what’s going to happen. You know…
If I had been trying to do something specially for my business I don’t know how naturally it would have unfolded. The fact that it wasn’t caught up with that, or look a certain way, or fit a certain brand. That was great. I’m glad that I wasn’t trying to do that. I think I might have been trying too hard if it was for business. Focus on what matters and stay off the what and how. We stayed on why. Whatever takes someone away from thinking about what it should look like, will work.
I have to say doing it with you was a very easy, natural experience. I could really just relax.
The authenticity and that openness and reaching into where people are is a trademark of what you do.
Trust has to underlie the whole process. In a sense like the conversation we’ve already had about how so often photos are about some sort of performance or something that’s not real. In this environment it really is just about trust. I did think I left it all your hands and I did think it will be fine. There is a leaping off a cliff but it’s a perfectly safe thing to do. I trusted that you had the net, so to speak. Not that it’s scary but it is a bit of a leap of faith.
The whole creative process can be a messy one. In that sense it’s not easy. As human beings we want a formula or recipe for safety and creativity isn’t like that. I think it’s great that you’re looking at it and playing with it and grappling and experimenting with it, that’s what it’s about. Not just anyone can do that.”
Happy Birthday Rhonda!!
Gorgeous. Such a deeply satisfying feeling it’s hard to explain that I just get such a buzz off it.
I want to capture and create with women everywhere around the globe.