Last month, in an attempt to escape the last legs of this dreary New York winter, I went to Los Angeles in search of sunlight. I found light, warmth and stunning flowers in vibrant colors -- but most surprisingly, I found love.
"Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow; a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them -- we can only love others as much as we love ourselves," wrote the researcher and author Brené Brownin her book The Gifts of Imperfections. Love, according to Ms. Brown, is nurtured through interpersonal connections and allowing our authentic selves to be deeply seen and known.
Serendipitously, this kind of connection began at a neighborhood restaurant in Santa Monica. There I met Karen Lorre, a television actress. She chose to sit next to me at a large communal table, and we immediately began talking, finding mutual ties and a common philosophy toward life. The synchronistic bonds, however, were just a starting point. The joy for life that flowed from Karen seemed to vibrate around the room. Like a radio signal on a high frequency, I was getting the message loud and clear: A Goddess portrait was being born!
Several days later, when asked what sacred myth she most resonated with, Karen revealed she felt aligned with two Goddesses, White Tara, the Tibetan Goddess of compassion, healing and serenity, and Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love. Both had deep meaning for her, but love won out.
The women I photograph for the Goddess on Earth series are extraordinary in their willingness to be entirely wholehearted and open to experiencing the playfulness of co-creating. In turn, I feel deeply honored by their belief in me and empowered by their trust. My internal work during any photo shoot is to get out of my own way, and let the joy flow, secure in the knowledge that all is well. I now realize that during this creative process, love is being nurtured. I'm sure this is why I feel my happiest, most alive self when I am making a Goddess portrait.
Aphrodite, who in Greek mythology arose from the foam of the elemental waters, celebrates love and sexuality as an embodied divinity. She helps us cultivate sensuality, and the desire to live in harmony with the natural world. On my last day in California, we created Karen's Goddess portrait on a beach in Malibu under the blanket of soft grey clouds.
On choosing to portray Aphrodite, Karen wrote:
"I know love is our true nature and an infinite supply flows into us from this divine universe if we allow it. We allow it by focusing on what we appreciate and what makes us happy. Seeing wellbeing in everyone and everything is pure love. Seeing wellbeing in everyone and everything is pure fun! "