Friday, September 10, 2010

Shannon, Daughter, Student, Model, Cleveland, Ohio, States, July, 2010

Her profile states her location as being Cleveland. In the end, the drive to her family's home takes over one hour, a most refreshing one hour. Upon arriving, her family welcomes me as they would welcome a family member. They take me on a tour of the property to find a location for our session, then hand me a cool glass of freshly-made grapefruit juice, by far the most delicious version of this juice in my life.

Four generations of women are present, with Shannon being the youngest. A most conservative and humble family, they open themselves up to my work without hesitation. Her grandmother walks around with a large bowl of popcorn, something she just adores they tell me.

They are most supportive during the session, offering to me multiple glasses of juice and water. They help me carry the equipment in the beginning and at the end of our evening. Their support is also evident in Shannon's ease with the camera. For this young woman to present herself so to a stranger shows how confident she is with her family.

We begin photographing when the sun is weak, believing that this is all we will have. Slowly over an hour's time, the clouds disappear and the sun shines brightly. We move quickly to make portraits with different pieces of clothing. We then move a table to an open area and she takes her place on its top for the remainder of the portraits.

The images above are from the end of the session. The poses, the expressions are all her own. She is a most creative spirit, taking on a new position with almost every single shutter release. We work until the sun is almost down, giving us enough time to sit down for a wonderful chat, to a most delicious watermelon and locally made ice cream. All this is offered without hesitation and with a kindness natural to this family.

We talk about my travels, about their community, for perhaps an hour.

The people in my portraits never get to see such an American family. Their view of the States filters through the television, through the newspapers. With Shannon's portrait, they will experience people just like them, people connected to the land, communities that work with their hands and understand the value of a day's hard labor.

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