It has taken just over two years for me to write this reflection on my friend Serenia.
Allow me to share.
I was invited to a party of Wally Holmes in Hollywood in 2016.
Wally wrote the song Rock the Boat, sung by the band The Huges Corporation.
That was a great tune back in the day.
My friend Najee and I went to this party and enjoyed ourselves out back with Jayne Kennedy and Freda Payne. Later that evening, we headed indoors for a little light entertainment. I took a seat next to an attractive lady while another lady stood, took to the microphone and sang Stevie Wonders Loves in Need of Love today.
This lady sang just fine, in spite of my poor hearing, I could make out what she was singing. The lady I was sat next turns out is her daughter, Serenia. I asked her if she was going to sing? She said no, “I am too shy to Sing”. That comment blew my mind; to have the ability and talent to sing and not do so seemed counter intuitive to me. Would you believe, that short conversation would be the start of a two year friendship, albeit through email and Facebook messenger?
Serenia and her mother would visit The Magic Castle - that was the las time I would see Serenia for the next two years. We saw each other again recently here in London and it proved to be an extraordinary encounter.
While I did not interview her for this project my time with her was precisely what this project has been about. Every woman I speak to, engage with and in her case, spend time with, was and is an opportunity for me to look deeply, feel, search, unlock, and probe, just to find the hidden elements that makes each woman special even if they do not want to reveal this magical element about themselves - I consider it my duty as a man to confront this. This process is as much about me as it is about the women in question.
At the end of a conversation my photograph must communicate all that I have discovered.
In Serenia, I was confronted with a Woman who believes herself to be SHY.
I was confronted with a woman who believes she doesn’t photograph well.
So right there, my hands were full.
It did not matter to me because I accepted her exactly as she is and exactly as she isn’t.
Who am I to judge?
Friendship and Rapport go hand in hand.
All I did during our time together was listen, pay attention and created opportunities for her to feel safe so that she could enjoy London, meet friends of mine and have a very enjoyable experience of London.
Which she did.
What did I learn?
At the source of her being is a delicate vulnerable femininity.
Now don’t confuse vulnerability with being weak, Serenia is far from being a fragile women. The vulnerability I speak of is the fear that all women have when it comes to affairs of the heart.
Can I trust you?
Will you hurt me?
Will you break my heart?
I saw a kind and generous women, I saw warmth and friendliness with a vivacious mixture of fun and gaiety. She loves a good Magic Trick.
I kept my promise to do a Photoshoot with her.
Here images turned exactly as I visualised.
How can a photographer transform how a woman sees her self?
Well, it takes an authentic conversation about life, fears beauty, which we had.
Serenia believes true beauty comes of the spirit.
This is the spirit of God that shines through a persons eyes and in their being. She is a great believer in God and considers herself to be a woman of God first and foremost.
Before my camera comes out to play, I must feel that my ladies will trust me, relax and follow my exact instructions.
My lighting and photographic skills will do the rest. All it takes is trust, I said before, my subject gives me the look I am after and they give it to me WILLINGLY.
Serenia gave me the look I wanted.