In honor of International Women’s Day two weeks ago, I set myself up in Madison Square Park along with my mother, my camera, a chalkboard sign, and a hand mirror and offered free 5-min portrait sessions to anyone who could pledge their time, money, or some action in their personal life to benefit the womxn of the world. And holy mother, did it go well. This was, hands down, the most fun day of my career to-date as a photographer.
Here are a few things I learned about photographing complete strangers (and some friends) in 5 minutes:
Everyone’s nervous. Including me. But I was excited-nervous. It comes through in different ways for people, but ultimately everyone has some sort of insecurity being in front of the camera whether they say it or not. I don’t love it myself, which is why I hold the camera. However, within a short time, everyone opened up. Everyone laughed. And I got a great smile out of everyone.
By some miracle, be it the goddesses of the universe blessing us that day, or just some genuine luck in the folks who came by, I didn’t meet a single person I wouldn’t have wanted to have dinner with. Every session ended with a hug. Thinking about it makes me tear up!
For nearly everyone there, I asked some pointed questions about what they wanted out of life, what they would do if there was nothing stopping them, what they wish for the women of the world. I was floored by the answers. In everyone, I saw some true and beautiful sense of purpose come through, whether they found the words for it or not. It was moving. I’m tearing up again.
I met so many younger people! I don’t have a ton of interaction with kids in HS or college these days, but holy crap did it give me hope. The way these people spoke about the world and about what they wanted for it truly made me excited. I hope they don’t lose that and I hope I can stay in touch with all of them!
Any time I was photographing someone with a dog, our line grew longer because… dogs. Dogs are ALWAYS allowed at my shoots now and always.
I'm still crunching the numbers, but I had the honor of taking photos of a total of 35 individuals (and half a dozen dogs) who have pledged to take action in honor of International Women's Day, including raising over $700 for various causes. What a pleasure it was to have such incredibly meaningful conversations with everyone I met in such a short time. Looking over these photos brought me such joy. I can't wait to do this again soon, and next year, I hope it’ll be even bigger.
Special thanks to all my supportive friends and family who came by, some of whom I didn’t get to photograph because I HAD A LINE (who knew there was going to be a LINE!) - I am so grateful.
Here’s a small gallery of some of my favorites from the day. I hope you’ll come by for the next one!