So we set out at 4.30am, she was naked apart from a borrowed dressing gown and Ugg boots, and I was dressed like a ninja in black leggings and a roll neck, armed with a small knife. We pulled up beside the children’s playground; she kept the engine running whilst I ran across the tarmac and hacked at the thick stalks of the white flowers growing in the council flower beds. I threw the stolen bunches onto the back seat of the car, slammed the door, and together we sped off into the gloom of the early morning dawn towards the forest where we would begin our shoot.
It was a mild summer Sunday in July, I was nervous and a little over excited, she was my long suffering best friend, my guardian angel…. Sharon.
I had no idea this would become one of the most precious days I would share with her, and for once it is so nice to write about a moment of pure happiness, of a memory I will keep deep in my heart for the rest of my life. The shoot had been intended as a follow up to my last set ‘Dark Light’ – to continue the dark melancholy focus I had become so drawn to – Sharon’s body wrapped in the roots of ancient trees, underexposed light, a menacing edge……
However that morning, something unexpected and beautiful happened and I am so thankful I now have it all captured in these images. Before we began Sharon broke the news to me that she was 7 weeks pregnant with her first child, and asked me to be the godmother. Suddenly everything took on a new meaning; these would be the first pictures of my best friend with her first child inside her. That coupled with the dawn, and the raw vulnerability of her naked body in the woods…. I had to face facts; my original concept was destroyed, but really in the best of ways.
So we began,….we laughed so hard,…. she fell over, there was swearing and insects bites, we were stung by nettles, she was cold, and the forest floor was damp. I made her climb trees, kneel in the mud, bend over backwards and scratch her poor skin against rotting bark….. but together we witnessed the sun breaking through the trees and it felt like a new beginning for her and her unborn baby. I never thought I could have found a higher level with the woman who saved me from a violent boyfriend and helped steer my life in a happier direction. I call her my guardian angel because without her my life would have been a very different place..
After the initial tree pictures we relaxed a little and sat in the tall grasses surrounded by ferns and I shot the sun rising over her head and through her hands – these pictures were out of my control, they took on an ethereal and maternal identity of inner radiance and grace…….. The moment took over, and as I have so often said in this blog the camera somehow reflected and channelled our emotions.
They became love, they became the ball of light and life that burns within her, they are precious……………… and I will treasure them always.