"Please don't mention anything to them about our photographing in the gardens", I caution my model and client, Denise, before we enter Morikami Museum and Gardens.
"Of course", she nods in agreement as we open the heavy doors.
"We are just ordinary park visitors going for a stroll", I mumble to myself as we approach the cashier, an elderly gentleman named Joe.
"That will be $15 per person and you cannot bring a bag of clothes with you into the park, ma'am, though your camera bag is ok," as he sternly gives me a look over.
"How did he know?" we both laugh as we head back out for Denise to change in the car. "I thought we were so discreet about it! These guys are experts at spotting photographers." My camera bag, by the way, doesn't look like a traditional camera bag. Once, when attending a photography workshop, as several of us, students, were going down in a elevator together, one lady pointed at my hot pink Cheeky Lime camera bag and asked, "Is that your lunch bag?" How dare she? I LOVE my camera bag for its extra-ordinarity. Anyway, thankfully, we were granted the permission to photograph in the park and we decided to do outfit changes in the car.
Even though the gardens had just opened, the serene place was already full of people being photographed and photographing. The heat index was rising so we got to business right away, deciding to play by the water first.
"Do you want me to splash the water around?"
"Great idea!" I say, and as she starts splashing the water toward me, we both giggle, but I am afraid to get water on my camera, so I suggest she try throwing the water towards the sky. This is what came out of it:
It is worth mentioning that Denise first contacted me when I was on vacation in Turkey. Even though she was eager to get her photographs taken right away, when I told her that I would be back in two weeks, she agreed to wait for me. And once I came back and we talked on the phone about her photoshoot,
I found out that Denise loves to travel and the country that she is especially drawn to is Italy. I had an obsession with Italy myself so I can completely understand why.
She also told me about how her fledgling yoga business is geared more toward children, and when I met her in person she struck me as a kid herself. This woman with a successful corporate career where she gets to travel worldwide has a contagious laughter and playful attitude of a cheerful kid!
During our photoshoot, whenever I asked Denise to give me a non-smiling expression, she would comply for a few seconds and then burst out laughing. After a few more tries I realized that it was her personality and after having taken a couple shots with a contemplative, introspective expression on her face, I decided not to persist anymore and just photographer this goddess the way she was naturally, smiling, bursting with joy, and happiness.
"Look up! What is that? Is that an eagle?" she points to the top of a pine tree towering over us.
"It is!", I say as I continue to photograph her. In addition to the eagle, we also encountered a bright green lizard that I made friends with while I was waiting for Denise to change in her car. We also saw one of those long-necked black birds that spread their wings to soak up the sun. And lots of humans, of course, with many of whom Denise would casually start chatting and laughing.
We played by the water, on a giant rock, and Denise danced between tall trees. We didn't explore the entire park and I wanted to keep photographing, but we were both exhausted from the heat AND working (modeling is serious business, ask anyone who was photographed for two hours!) I think it just means that there will be a sequel to this photoshoot :)
As Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don't bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he's a good man.”
I would definitely want this gentle and lighthearted woman to teach yoga to my daughters.