Shortly after our trip to Nicaragua, I got a call from the amazing Dawn Shields who is the editor of Metropolitan Bride magazine. There was this opportunity to shoot with the famous Bambi Cantrell and other photographers for a opportunity for a spread in the magazine. I’d need to be on a flight to San Francisco in 3 days and I’d need to bring my A game. (Duh – there is no B game. 😉 )
Roger gets enough time with girls in dresses at weddings, and wasn’t quite as stoked for the opportunity to photograph models as I was. So, 3 days later I boarded a plane for San Francisco and embarked on my first solo adventure.
Roger is my safety zone, so I was VERY nervous shooting without him. He’s also my copilot and I always travel with him by my side. I would be a girl in the city – on my own – for the first time ever. Now is when I should mention – I have an irrational fear of escalators. I cannot get on a escalator with luggage. I would rather pick up a heavy suitcase and haul it up 5 flights of stairs than try to navigate getting myself and my luggage on a moving escalator. I literally sweat thinking about it. The timing has to be perfect, and I am very challenged in the grace department. I’m sure there is a name for the phobia I have, but I just call it “scared sh@#less”.
I also had to learn how to use the BART system (Bay Area Rapid Transit) all on my own. There was experience after experience that normally I rely on my husband to safely guide me through, and I managed to make it through each one all on my own. I was… a grown up. (except for having to take elevators everywhere instead of the escalator like a normal person.)
Bambi Cantrell is the rock star of photographers. Like a full on celebrity. Walking into her studio, I felt like I was going to pass out. In fact – the entire 3 following days I had no idea if I was really awake or dreaming. It was literally heaven on Earth. I’d just come off a trip that was in the most underprivileged conditions I’d ever experienced and walked right into decadence. It’s amazing what can change in one week.
For the next 3 days I had the opportunity to photograph amazingly gorgeous models in breathtaking situations while watching one of my photography idols in easily my favorite place in the world. I feel so fortunate to have gotten this opportunity and to have had the chance to get a full spread in the magazine. There were a handful of other photographers shooting for the same opportunity, and they were all incredibly talented. Between working with models and seeing the confidence in these other photographers – I was extremely intimidated. I was completely out of my element and without the safety net of Roger to pick me up. But I wanted to make him proud. I’d dropped everything to chase this opportunity and there was no way I wanted to come home empty handed. So I did what any terrified woman would do – I channeled Irene Cara and she told me to “take my passion, and make it happen”. With the help of Irene’s “What A Feeling”, and 10 cups of coffee, I embraced the final shoot for the magazine.
The entire day I felt like I was running. My heart was going a thousand miles per hour and I was very sweaty and awkward. We were getting ready to work with our last models and I knew I hadn’t gotten my shot yet. I have watched every episode of every season of America’s Next Top Model, and I always knew I wanted that opportunity to shoot like that. This was my moment I had to “make it happen”. I set up a final shot and all of a sudden it all came together. It was my very last shot, I told my beautiful model exactly what I wanted her to do and I literally felt it as I hit the shutter. I looked down at the back of my camera as if in slow motion, and knew that was the one right there. It was the last photo I took. I had 3 more minutes, and I didn’t need it. I knew that even if I didn’t get the spread in the magazine – I wouldn’t walk away disappointed. Because that one shot was the one I’d wanted to get. Even if no one “got it” but me – it was in my eyes exactly what I wanted to see.
I submitted it the next day as my choice for the spread. I hadn’t gotten more than 5 hours of sleep within the past 48 hours and was feeling drained. I watched the other photographer’s images come up on the screen and really felt like their work was jaw dropping. I had no idea at that point that my shot would be chosen, but when they said “the image we chose for the full page spread is…” and showed my image – I cried the ugly cry. Embarrassingly, in front of a room full of photographers AND BAMBI CANTRELL, I wept.
It wasn’t that having a photograph in the magazine was the end all, be all moment of my life. It wasn’t that I felt that I had ‘won” over anyone else. It was that I done something all on my own that I didn’t think I could do. I’d overcome my fears, and I proved to myself that perseverance does pay off and that when you truly set your mind to something – you will achieve it.
The next day as I stepped off the BART to go to the airport, there it was right in front of me. It was the only way up – no stairs, no elevator. I took a deep breath, grabbed my suitcase and I got on that escalator. (I know Irene Cara would have been proud.)
Enjoy a few more of my favorite images from my adventure in San Francisco!! What a feeling!! 😉
TO make matters more intimidating – the INCREDIBLY talented Justin Cardoza of Flourish Films was there filming the shoot for a promotional piece. I am not one of those people who just forget I’m being filmed. It brings my awkwardness to a whole new level. So as you watch this amazing video of the experience, pay no attention to how awkward I am in any of the clips. 😉