There's a good chance you know Gloria, or at least have read or seen some of her work. It's hard to describe what she does, but at the core she's a creative storyteller. I've been following her work for years and have a great deal of respect for her talent. So much of her work appeals to me, including her photography.
The other part of the story, that is important to mention, is that over the years Gloria and I would occasionally go for these epic coffee dates. These session were raw and real. We'd sit or walk for hours. For me it was very therapeutic and much needed. I always left those sessions feeling a little vulnerable - but also a lot lighter. I can't say for sure, but I think she really enjoyed our yearly chats as well. So when I booked Gloria in for a portrait, I had an expectation that since we both knew each other and were fans of each other's work, that we'd agree on most creative decisions.
The shoot was a blast, she was great to work with and we got lots of awesome photos. But when we got to the review session at the end, I was surprised that we rarely agreed on the photos we liked. This was the first time I encountered something like this. It was confusing because most of her favourite photos were not appealing to me as strongly as they were for her. Not to say they were bad photos, just that she had a very specific style that she gravitated towards. It wasn't' a big deal, but it did surprised me and made me reflect on what I could learn from that experience, for future shoots.
ONE LESSON FROM THIS SHOOT:
There is no right or wrong in photography. Everyone has their own aesthetic sensibilities and taste. This can be a frustrating discovery, but it can also be a liberating one. The human brain seeks closure. The human heart seeks certainty and conviction. But the soul is wiser than both. It transcends binary human constructs such as right and wrong. When I realized both Gloria and I could be "right", I had to also accept that there is no objectively perfect photograph. At that moment I felt untethered and free. The feeling was fleeting, but it planted a seed inside me. It made me realize that trying to get to a place, where everyone felt the same way about my work, is a terrible trajectory. I can't control any of that. So now, I had to find a better plan - one that relied less on the external world.