14- It’s all a bit of an experiment

Today I had one of my best friends since childhood come over to “experiment,” or test light on. I’ve moved into the new place, and while everything photography and decor wise is still at the studio until May, I wanted to test the lighting a little. Praying it was as good as I expected it to be, not an easy thing to find in the photog world. Thank God it was. And more so.

More than that though I asked Holly over because I needed someone who I could unapologetically steal beautiful energy from. She always gives it, and she has enough to go around. So I take it gladly. I told her about my “Rise” portrait sessions, and how I wanted them to be so much more than a portrait, and she had plenty of thoughts about how that could work. And even how she could lend her sage yogi talents. Which I also plan to gladly take in big doses.

What was even more special to me about this shoot is that my buddy since age ten came over when I had just “launched” my first official “studio” in 2004.  A bit of hodge podge garage set up in rural Ramona. My first go at boudoir as a real business. I had just painted a wall turquoise, I still remember the palpable fear in me thinking my landlord would see it (I planned to paint it back don’t worry) and I needed someone who I knew wouldn’t judge for me for my new crazy idea and lack of a complete plan. When I was younger I had a lot of nutso ideas, and it seems the friends that went along with these wild plans then, are somehow still my besties getting on board to this day. Gotta love them for that.

When we were younger Holly was the first loyal, ride or die, “no I don’t think you are a freak weirdo” friend. We got each other because she, too, lived on acres in the middle of nowhere. But somehow managed to be way cooler than me. Our first ever conversation was over tiny desks in class and about how we liked to play outside more than inside. And that we were nervous about rattlesnakes.

Today we realized that growing up we lived about 3 miles apart in rural Ramona, California. And now in coastal Leucadia we still live 3 miles apart.  Which, to my new found horror, still has rattlesnakes. “Look at what we’ve done she said.” I just smiled. She was so right. I knew she was saying that we were exactly where we were supposed to be. And still together. Gratitude just bubbling up inside me.


I mention this because the universe meets you. God brings you sweet confirmations that only you can totally appreciate. Holly reminded me today in my tardiness and minor chaos of “testing” that I had done this before and it had been successful. How 13 years ago “I took a photo on that chair right there,” she said, pointing to my make shift dining room, and “look what’s happened.” She grabbed the chair and we reenacted the original shot for old times sake.


We talked about it being okay to not have an exact direction at first, and that experimenting on people who won’t judge you are the first steps. Toy with ideas in safe environments where you can get real feedback. It’s a bit of a messy process. As the best things in life are.


Sure you can watch and then simply replicate in this world. There’s no shortage of “how to” posts or webinars. And that’s all good and part of it. But creating an authentic experience takes vulnerability and trials and error. And that’s where people who love you come in. Honesty is invaluable. And constructive criticism can hurt, but it no doubt refines.

Holly is onto bigger things in her life. So this shoot was perfect timing for both of us. She too is creating an authentic experience for people on her own. The only way to describe today was kismet. I am a very grateful.


PS. I may miss a few more consecutive blog posts here and there. It’s 11pm, I started working at 7:45am, and I LOVE my work.  But my time today reminded me that I need to take a little better care of myself. Tomorrow I will be hitting the yoga class instead of blogging. I’m sure you are all so on the edge of your seat 😉 so sorry to disappoint. Much love to you all you dreamers and doers out there.


  • Ryan Walton says:

    Great post, great people. Loving the blog!

  • Jennifer Thomas says:

    I know you probably don’t remember me, but I took one of your workshops. Flew in from TN. I absolutely adore this, all of this, and you. Everything you say resonates with me. I actually am on the edge of my seat each day waiting for your post so… =)

  • Heather Shanahan says:

    I wish I could share a picture I have on my phone here. But it says, “Man up? No woman up. Woman the fuck up. We are not emotional basket cases. We are strong, powerful, confident, driven creatures who will claw our way out of the pits of hell to get where we belong” – Pinterest Hooker Bitch Barbie. This is what comes to mind with you, your RISE vision, and these photos. You are reminding women and bringing out their strong, sexy, confident side. But even at our softest and most vulnerable sides, Lord help whoever stands in our way or trys to put us down.

    I don’t follow any of that astrological signs and such but I guess I believe it all. I have always felt like I am drawn to certain auras if you will. People that give off a positive, strong, determined vibe. Even if when I’ve met people in hard times, I might still get that vibe shining from under all the dark and it pulls me in.

    Don’t remember where I was going with any of this to tie into what you wrote. Maybe it’s just all about the photos and Holly this time. And how you’re able to capture her aura in a picture and that’s all I see.

  • Angie says:

    These photos…holy cow Riss. You are something else.

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