Mother's Day has never been a huge deal in our household. But I have to admit, last year, when my daughter, Sarah, was on the west coast at college on May 11, I felt a twinge of sadness. It was the first time ever that we hadn't spent the day together and it felt like the end of a milestone. Not a big milestone, but a milestone nonetheless.
Little did I know that she was conspiring together with Rosanne Olson (who lives in Seattle) to create something extremely special for me. I'll explain in a minute.
I got the call from Sarah on Mother's Day--sweet but short. Sort of like she had other more important things to do that day. Okay, I got it, no problem.
Fast forward about a month when Sarah returned home for the summer. She presented me with a neatly wrapped package saying, "It's a little late, Mom, but Happy Mother's Day!" I opened it up and immediately burst into tears! It was a glorious portrait of herself photographed by Rosanne Olson.
I cried for two reasons.
First, because Sarah (like me) is loathe to have her picture taken. She's uncomfortable in front of a camera, and therefore, usually doesn't look like herself in photos. So it was a big deal for her to put herself into this position, both logistically and emotionally for the sake of Mother's Day.
And second, because it was an insanely beautiful portrait of her. Bravo to Rosanne for making Sarah (and all her subjects) relax in front of the camera.
How does Rosanne do that? She explains it best herself:
"My approach to portraiture is that it is more like therapy than photography. In fact, I call it "photo-therapy." It sounds amusing, but really--I feel that a portrait is about creating space for that subtle self to come forth. My process involves conversation prior to the session. I like for photographer and subject to become comfortable and trusting in order for that ineffable energy to flow. So when we go into the studio, I can then work to capture the complex personality of the person sitting before me...It involves lighting, yes. It involves discovery (what do you do with your hands, what makes your eyes twinkle, what do you look like when you smile naturally as if unobserved, what are your best angles?). This is a fine collaboration between photographer and subject. And when we are finished, we have a portrait that will reflect the "you" that is really you."
Have a look below at this selection of her portraits. And then scroll down to see the image of Sarah. Even if you've never seen her in person, I bet you can instantly see her personality in the image.
(c) Rosanne Olson
BTW, even I have decided that there actually might be a chance that Rosanne can work her magic with me as a subject. I've decided to do a mother-daughter session with her the next time I'm in WA state (probably next year). Stay tuned...
Oh, and click here to see Rosanne's three images that won awards in the 2014 Graphis Photography Annual awards show. Quite an honor!