how I became Francesca Bliss

My parents named me Masha, or Maria, which are the same name in Russian. My given name was something that I lived with for many years, never hating or loving my name, just being ok with it, I suppose. I was also ok with who I was, but not in total acceptance of myself and full of fears and limitations. One day, when I was working at a language school where I got to meet a lot of people from different countries, I met a young woman from Argentina. She came in with her boyfriend to inquire about learning English and getting a student visa as a way to stay in the country.  The woman must have been in her early thirties - tall, well-built, thin, long thick black hair, and an aquiline nose which did not spoil her looks, but, on the contrary, gave her that je ne sais quoi. She was impeccably dressed, simple yet tasteful jewelry adorning her fingers and wrists. I was fascinated by how she looked. I was fascinated with how she spoke - not rushed, taking her time, confidently, basking in her glory with each word she uttered. When she was impressed or surprised by something, she would say "increíble", in a sing-songy way (mind you, the entire conversation was in English,  and "increíble" means incredible in Spanish). I wanted to be this woman. I wanted to be as confident as she, I wanted to take my time when expressing my thoughts and have the whole roomful of people looking at my mouth waiting to catch the next word. This woman's name was Francesca, and that day I decided that my alter ego would be named Francesca and that I would be just like her. Limitless, confident, extraordinary.  

Several years had passed before I remembered about my Francesca. Then one day, when looking for inspiration about what to write for my Spanish classes, I started writing about her in my not yet perfect Spanish. My wonderful teacher Rosario would painstakingly correct my mistakes and encourage me to continue writing as Francesca's story and adventures seemed to amuse her. I kept writing and as stories emerged, Francesca became more real to me, even though she was just a personage in my homework assignments. 

When I delved into photography and a couple of years later was faced with a question of choosing a name for my photography business, I did not want it to be my given name because it seemed too prosaic. So I came up with a whole list of names such as soulful photography, eye of the beholder, soul reflections, inner light photography, etc. I wanted the name to reflect that my photography went beyond the skin-deep, but glimpsed at the subject's soul and revealed her or his essence (and mine, essentially).  After googling all the names that I came up with, it turned that all of them already belonged to some other photographer and it left me no other choice but to continue searching for THE name.


After a photoshoot with Paul Anthony II, a South Florida reggae artist, we sat down in a Starbucks and I asked for his ideas for my photography business name. I told him about Francesca, and he suggested that I name my business Francesca Something, so it would be a name, a pseudonym. Then a few weeks later I was visiting my beautiful friend Victoria aka Tara White - an artist, a loving soul, and a dear friend. I told her the story and added that I want the word "bliss" to be a part of the name because bliss is what I felt when I was doing photography. "Francesca Bliss", she said. "Name it Francesca Bliss. You are Francesca Bliss".

I was blown away. That was it! That was THE NAME, though it would take some getting used to the idea of having a pseudonym, and practice telling people that my artistic name was Francesca Bliss, and not worry that they would think I was crazy. Some still do, but it all comes from within. And I stand firm in my truth that I am an artist and my name is Francesca Bliss.