In June I had the opportunity to work with one of the most unique couples I've ever met. Since wrapping up our session I've been eager to share more about our time together and show off more photos from their session. And with a little bit of time on my hands now I figured it's the perfect time!
When Roleena reached out to me about doing an edgier Sedona couples photoshoot with her husband I was instantly intrigued. She explained her vision about wearing darker clothing and having their clothing and tattoos contrast against the orange and red of the Sedona Red Rocks. OH. Yeah, I was into it! So we got her on the books and I didn't think much more on it.
But the day of the session I went down to Sedona a little earlier than I usually do because I wanted to find a newer spot for their session and the parking lots were jam packed (grr, tourism is a massive downside to Sedona sessions). It would be a miracle if one of us found parking, let alone both of us. So I acted fast, followed my gut and drove down the street to a different trailhead I passed a few times to see if it would work. Universe basically was like "you're going to make it work, because they're here." I took about five minutes to check out potential spots along the trail I could work with before I got the text notification that Roleena and Pedro had arrived. And let me tell you I was frazzled. I was, at that point, so nervous and unsure about how it would go (did I mention yet that it was also way darker in the area that I anticipated due to some crazy weird cloud cover, too? So much chaos!). Then I met my clients and I'm not going to lie I was kind of intimidated by them! They look like some tough baddies and I wanted them to think I was cool so bad... Okay I always want my clients to think I'm cool but this was next level lmao.
No going back now!
All I could do was work my magic in a way that honored who they were and the place we were standing. I quickly found that Roleena and Pedro were a really mellow and go-with-the-flow pair. They were really responsive with all my directing. By that I mean, instead of somehow forgetting how they flow and fit together like many couples in front of a camera, these two always knew where they fit with one another. They had this unspoken bond that humbled me and inspired me to work with them to create images I'd wanted to create with clients in the past but didn't feel fit anyone else.
Every pose idea fit with Roleena + Pedro.
At one point in the middle of our session I asked the two if they had any sentimental jewelry or clothing on that they thought would be good for close-up detail shots. The two shrugged and Pedro said, "Nah, I mean aside from maybe my club ring." Puzzled I asked, "Oh! What kind of club? Can I ask?" He replied, "Yeah, well, I'm a member of one of the largest Native American Motorcycle Clubs in the world. And she is actually a member of the female counterpart club". UM OKAY. No big deal? This information helped unlock a whole new understanding of who this couple was and inspiration struck me hard. "Dude! That's awesome! Do you guys have your vests by any chance?" They did! They were in the car and we game planned to make sure we got some shots in their cuts before taking off that evening.
The session went on they taught me more about the club's mission, purpose, future direction and more. Shortly after this Roleena and Pedro got ready to change into their second outfit. "I want the pictures in this shirt to look and feel really badass and empowering!" I told her I had her back and asked what the shirt was - she told me I'd have to wait and see. Fair enough! She went behind a tree and changed and when she came back with a smile on her face she was wearing this.
I felt a lot of things at once: breathless, solidarity, connected, sisterhood, honored, grateful, and, frankly, white guilt. I knew that I waned others to feel the same when the photos were delivered and shared. That's something I've recognized more and more lately - I want to create photos you can feel.
We headed back to the cars and I was so in my feelings about the photos we'd already captured I'd almost forgotten about our plan to get photos with the two in their MC cuts. I didn't think the shoot could get any better but boy, was I wrong. The last photos we got were the icing on top of an already phenomenal and moving session.
As these two take on their next chapter together moving to a new state on the other side of the country, it brings me so much joy to know they will already be surrounded by family thanks to their Motorcycle Club network. I hope that this session in the Red Rocks of Sedona, Arizona reminds them time and time again of their powerful bond with one another. With any luck, I'll be able to cross paths with them again. They were an absolute gift to have the opportunity to work with and learn from.