Over the past two years my portrait work has been evolving and is something I hold very close to my heart.  In December 2008, while Jesh de Rox was here for his life as an artform workshop, Michael and I asked Jesh to do a beloved session of us. This two hour portrait shoot changed our lives. Two hours shifted our whole way of thinking, how we see each other, photography and the world.  Completely inspired and encouraged by my dear friend Jesh, the last 18 months has seen me experiment with the idea of what a ‘portrait session’ could be, should be. Most people who walk into my office, after they sit down on the couch, the first thing they tell me is that they hate having their photograph taken or think they do not photograph well. I’ve learnt that when a person absolutely loves and adores a photograph of themselves, it is when they are being a hundred percent genuine in the moment the photograph was taken. The images Jesh created of Michael and I, we are a hundred percent genuine in every single image and I absolutely adore every image created. There are images where I see some of my less favorite features, like my nose! hah! but when I see the images, I remember what I felt at that moment of time and maybe its helped me begin to like some of my less favourite features ;)

It sometimes can be hard to be genuine and authentic. I am naturally a shy person. Its really hard for me to go up to person and introduce myself. Ive learnt that its okay to be shy but I also learnt the less shy I am, the more genuine and authentic I can be. I think everybody has a ‘wall’ that they have created unconsciously and is placed in front of them, different people have different sized walls, low, high, thick and thin. All the things we experience in life and the interactions with have with others, good and bad, adds and subtracts to the wall. As kids, the wall is only at its foundations and by the time we become adults, we have walls of all shapes and sizes. We often wish we could experience being a kid again. To go back to a place where the wall never existed. I know I would love to be six years old again, even for just a week. To go back to that child like state of play, wonder and excitement would be magical. To have no worry, no stress. To have none of that emotional baggage the last twenty, forty, sixty years has given us and maybe made our walls rather thick. I admit the last two years I have been working hard in knocking down my rather large wall. Jesh has been massive factor in helping me smash my wall into tiny little pieces. Through his workshops and in the beloved session, we enter into a child like state of play. We are reminded of what it is like to be a kid again. We do experiments and we explore. We listen to music and we make art. Most of my closest friends now are people I met or reconnected with at one of Jesh’s workshops.

Each time I do a portrait session now, my wall is knocked down a little more because each time I truly connect with my clients, where I am being genuine and authentic, it creates a space for my clients to be genuine and authentic. Through the portrait shoot, I invite my clients to enter a child like state of play by suggesting experiments and encourage them to explore. The results create genuine and authentic images. When this happens it is confirmation to me, that this is the way a portrait session, or photography should really be. It propels me even further knowing this is the work I am suppose to be doing.

This portrait shoot below, taken in the hills near Queenstown in New Zealand, sitting on the side of a road, Dave turned to me and simply said “thank you”. Surprised and unsure what the thank you was for,  I asked him and he responded saying that they had not spent time like this together in months and thanking me for creating this space for them. In that moment, I knew this was exactly what the beloved movement and my portrait work was all about, to create a space for people to enjoy and to focus on each other and themselves and for them to be reminded of what is truly important.

  • Beautiful words and beautiful images Samm. Both so insightful xx

  • such a beautiful post samm... and never a truer word. you can feel emotion and genuine love in your images, and it's so evident you bring out the best in people and their love for one another because you're so true to yourself. i went through jesh's workshop myself and it's nice reading posts like this as a reminder to what his message was. beautiful beautiful art, samm. :)

  • Katie said:

    So true and so beautiful. I think that's just the way portraiture and photography should be too. It's wonderful to read how much Jesh and the experiences you had through his beloved session and the workshops have had on you. His gift has changed my life too, and I hope that those ripples continue to move throughout our lives and the lives of all we touch. xxx

  • Thanks so much for sharing Samm.. Something tells me I will keep coming back to read this post over and over again..

  • WOW! Jessica Marshall had also metioned Jesh's workshop to me. If he is responsible for your inspiration Samm, I am in awe!

  • very insightful samm. your ability to have people experience genuineness with the combination of your kickass photography is super awesome.

  • James said:

    Thanks for sharing Samm.

    Interestingly, I was just looking through an iPhoto album on my computer of inspiring Love & Marriage photographers (one of my albums of screengrabs) and came across Jesh's images of Michael & yourself ... and I was like, that's Samm & Michael. Beautiful, beautiful images.

    And I just went to his workshop in Seattle.

  • jesse said:

    well said. perfectly captured. xo

  • Jess Marshall said:

    Samm you stop me in my tracks. Goosebumps form and tears well. So, so beautiful and so, so true! You have embraced the movement so well and it is always so inspiring to see your work!
    I am so blessed to have you in my life! xx