I find I'm often at a loss in terms of what to do for Jim's birthday, so after Anjelina and I discovered that our men's birthdays are one day apart, I suggested we photograph one another and give Jim and Eric updated photos of their women. Anjie made appointments with her daughter Kelly Ann, a make-up artist. I arranged for Brooke to cut my hair a couple days before the "shoot," and on the big day, I wore contact lenses.
What I hadn't anticipated, in all my planning, was how sad I would feel on the day of the shoot. It had been a hard, hard week. I considered cancelling but didn't want to disappoint Anjie, who'd planned to treat Charleigh (for her birthday) on top of the rest. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't cancel for many reasons, but one above all.
We'd been made up and at the park for a while before I asked Anjie to put her camera down and go stand near a bridge beside a patch of tall and wild grass. She hemmed and hawed: not much or for long, and not because she's shy but because she's way more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.
In truth, I wasn't feeling any of it. I felt even less comfortable in front of the camera than usual; I hadn't made time to color my hair, and I knew my eyeballs were sad. And I felt insecure, suddenly, about photographing the photographer. I mean, this is hands-down one of the most talented people I know, and I was off. I knew I was off, and here I was trying something for which I may have felt ill-equipped even if I'd been on.
Then Anjie leaned into the bridge (folding her beautiful brown arms atop the rail) and looked directly into my lens. I found myself staring straight into the soul of this person I love, and the strangest thing happened: I started to cry.
So there I was. Snapping away, tears rolling.
It was such an unexpected thing, and I've been turning it over in my mind ever since. I still don't really know how to explain it. I was thinking how beautiful she is and how much I love her. I always think those things of her, but this was different. When she turned her eyes toward my lens, the feelings came up in a nearly physical wave. A jolt, a shock, of intimacy.
I took many photos that day, but the one above--while not "best in show"--is by far my favorite. I guess I'll never look at it without remembering the moment I took it.
Leave it to Anjelina. She has the most unconventional teaching methods I've ever experienced, but hey.