It has been my honor to work with some of the best local businesses in Fairfield County. One of my favorites is Stella M'Lia, a tween- and teen-centric brand of special occasion dresses based in Greenwich, Connecticut. Stella M'Lia dresses are absolutely gorgeous. They're high-quality fashionable designer pieces that any girl would love to wear.. and it was such a pleasure to photograph five incredible young girls doing just that (some are professional models, while others have never modeled before)...
As kids grow into teenagers parents tend to forego the whole annual family photoshoot thing. It doesn't seem as critical to document these years because the children don't seem to be changing as much. There aren't as many milestones. And there are plenty of soccer games and weekend activities to keep everyone very, very busy.
Everyone (for the most part) realizes that ballet dancers put in a lot of effort into practicing their craft. But I feel that a lot of people don't realize just how much of their lives these girls (and boys) are giving up for the pursuit of dance. And I'm also not sure many people realize that in order to be successful at anything, you have to give up (and put in) just as much.
What we see, for the most part, is the final result.
We see a beautiful set of graceful dance movements that looks completely effortless.. and we think to ourselves "That doesn't seem that hard to do!".
It's the same with photography. Anyone can take a beautiful photograph. Gorgeous, wall-worthy art can be captured by anyone with a camera on an Auto setting, just like anyone can perform an elementary dance move with very little effort. But trying to string those dance movements together into a beautiful performance, night after night, requires a lot more. And being able to capture 20 or 30 gorgeous, art-worthy, images in an hour is the same exact thing. You're no longer in the accidental success category.. the success you're trying to achieve will require thousands of hours of behind the scenes work that nobody will ever see.
And to everyone else, it will look completely effortless.
The photographers I admire are the ones who can take a flawless portrait in 15 seconds (and charge accordingly, btw). The ones who can put a person at ease instantly. The professionals who photograph celebrities and rock stars, who only have 5 minutes to produce a portfolio of 10 completely different images for their editor. And the individuals who make it look so incredibly easy that we all think we can learn to do the same thing in one weekend.
But we can't. We don't even come close.. because all those things that look incredibly easy and take no time at all, are actually a product of countless hours of learning, trying, failing, failing again, and practice.
It doesn't mean we can't get there. But we are fools to think it doesn't take years and years of dedicated effort to do so. So the next time you see a beautifully graceful ballet dancer or a truly stunning image, don't assume it's the camera or the shoes doing all the work. And don't, for even a second, think that that person didn't give absolutely everything to get there.
Working with a 13-year old girl is very different than my usual round of babies and toddlers during family sessions.. even the 6 and 8 year olds I've had in the Studio lately are nothing like the sophistication and high-stakes that a teen brings to the table.
Millie is her own fully-formed person. She has personal interests (one of which is actually photography!.. and she loves abstract art), a defined style, and an incredible eye when it comes to what she likes and doesn't like.
For Millie, I really focused on the photoshoot experience as the main event. She understands and appreciates the fact that she is modeling for the camera. All the attention is on her, from professional hair styling before the session, to wardrobe selection, and finally the individual attention the photographer (that's me!) pays to all the little details within the image. Her image. Her appearance, expression, and movement are the building blocks of a beautiful portrait. And the fact that she actually enjoyed the process, is absolutely priceless.
Oh, and another thing about Millie is that she has one brown eye and one blue... which is simply incredible.. and gorgeous. Be sure to click on the images below to view them full-screen to really see how awesome her eyes are!