Zoe: It’s a Small World

The longer I’m around this planet, the more opportunities I have to discover that it really is a small world.

I’ve photographed students at DaVinci Middle School, here in Portland, since about 2001.  I began there working on my fine arts thesis project, working with several teachers and tons of students, observing, photographing, and writing.  I loved working with the students so much, I couldn’t stop after I acquired my BFA.  I kept photographing there over the years, creating portraits with pretty much every format of film and digital camera I’ve owned.  I’ve had series of this work published in magazines and books, and shown in galleries.  I’ve taught in the classrooms there, presented my work on numerous occasions, encouraged students, worked with teachers.  It’s been a real delight.

Last week I was photographing at the school during my favorite week of the year: Spirit Week.  Among other students, one girl caught my attention as she worked in the hallway, preparing for a performance of Romeo and Juliet.  I asked if I could take her portrait, and we created some beautiful images.  Afterward, as I always do, I gave her a form to have her parents fill out and return to me, including my contact info and website.

Well, the next day I returned to the school to photograph some more, and this girl, Zoe, came up to me.

“Do you photograph weddings?” she asked me.

“Yes, I do.  Why do you ask?” I replied.

She just stared at me for a moment, and then said, “I think you photographed my dad’s wedding.”  We chatted a little more, and lo and behold, she was right: I shot her dad’s wedding in 2003, at the beach.  And then it dawned on me: this girl had looked familiar, and it’s because I had photographed her at the wedding 7 years ago.  I could even picture an image we’d taken of her, spinning around in her flower girl dress.

And here she is today:

I had a similar small world DaVinci story last night.  At the opening of my show at Froelick Gallery, I recognized a DaVinci student, Perry, whom I’d photographed the same day as Zoe.  I said hi, and then noticed another girl with her that looked familiar.  It turned out to be Meg, a DaVinci student who was in my Adolescence series (the Hallway Fairy in my Welcome to Wonderland series), now a graduating senior at Cleveland High.

I talked with the girls and their mom, and discovered that Meg is going to attend the Academy of Art University in San Francisco to study photography.  I’d been impressed with her photography back when she was in the 8th grade.  In fact, I even traded her for a beautiful little portrait she’d taken of her sister.

And then it dawned on me: this portrait, which I have up in my office, of her sister, was Perry, who I’d just photographed last week at DaVinci for a current series I’m working on.  I’d had no idea they were related until they walked into the gallery.

Small world.

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