Bittersweet

One of the most interesting phenomena I’ve encountered as a photographer is how you have to get to know a stranger quite intimately in a short amount of time.

It’s like emotional cliff notes, I suppose?

But, it’s necessary to get someone to open and bare their soul for 45 minutes or so. I’m hell bent on authenticity in my work and this is how it gets done.

It’s especially poignant during weddings, but the more boudoir style sessions I do, the more I feel this. Boudoir (on any level) can bring you to a very vulnerable place and it’s important to me that my clients feel that they can trust me and we can go there.

That being said, on February 17, I learned that one of my clients had passed away after complications from a car accident.

It’s hard to know how to feel, and I’ve struggled to make sense of it all, and I was further grappled with the fact that, while I actually hardly knew him, I did? See above.

I first heard from Keith in April of 2022, when I put out a model call for my cabin sessions. I wanted to test out the cabin and get some photos for advertising.

Keith is the cousin of one of my dearest friends, and he responded to my post which she had shared.

Keith has the distinction of being my first (besides my gracious and obliging husband) male boudoir client.

I was a bit nervous, admittedly, as I didn’t have much experience shooting men, but once I spoke with Keith during our consultation, I felt more at ease.

He said he was interested in getting a modelling portfolio together and pursuing that. He told me he was a chef, and we shared our ideas for this shoot and future sessions.

The day of, I had set the cabin up to accommodate a photo shoot. Eric started a fire outside in the fire pit and the warm May breezes sifted through the open windows and made the sheer curtains dance. The ambiance was definitely on point, especially with the spring rain on and off.

Spanish guitar played in the background and the forest around us shared it’s green bouquet with us. Click here for the original post I wrote about this session.

The shoot was comfortable and went great. Keith was wonderful to work with – incredibly calm and centered. He took direction well and it seemed to quickly become instinctual for him. I had no doubt that he could take a modelling career as far as he wanted to.

Afterwards, the 3 of us hung out on the porch and talked. We talked about life, and moving through it. Keith talked about his kids and it was clear that he was a proud, doting father.

After the session, we stayed in touch, with plans of more sessions.

Eric and I drove to the crash site a few days after hearing the news to say some prayers and were crushed by the swath of destruction and truck debris that was all that remained. It was mind numbing.

I thought of his kids and of his family, and all of those left behind. I remembered the sincerity in which he talked about them, and the hope he held for the future.

Yet, all I could still see was the shy and sincere smile through the view finder of my camera – forever etched in my mind’s eye.

Hauntingly bittersweet.

Our prayers and thoughts are with Keith and his family. Eric and I send our truest and deepest love and condolences <3

Rest in peace, our friend, Keith.

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