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Updated: Feb 4, 2023

I found myself taking photos of her instead of the models during shoots. Trying to capture the authentic person I saw, her subtle expressions, gentle movements, the sudden flare of a smile. I reviewed my photos recently and enjoyed finding shots of her in between photo sets. People looking over my shoulder wondered who she was and remarked on her beauty. I smiled as I quietly nodded, caught in a warm reverie.

Towards the end of the photo tour we began to sit together on the bus. It was such a gift to spend those long hours next to each other. We shared quiet stories of our past, life philosophies, our visions of the future. She knew and worked with the same intentions, she shared the same goal of presence, to be wholly here and now. She connected with and embodied something otherworldly through these intentions. Perhaps I've embellished and distorted its colloquial meaning, but I saw her as one of the Fae. I associate the Fae with a collection of subtle behaviors, an essence that some people have. An indescribable connection and alignment with something wordless, an energy, a way of being. It's thinned out and etherial, connected to nature and wild at the core, free from the chains of convention.

I felt my heart glowing whenever she was close, it’s as if we both shared some resonant field, some kind of magnetism. I wondered if she could feel it. She lay her head against my shoulder or napped on my lap during trips, I brushed my fingers through her silk-fine raven hair.

It was an entirely unspoken bond, it all happened without communication, without planning, without thought. Neither of us addressed it or remarked on its unfolding, we just kept it going as if everything was perfectly normal.

As silent as the hatching butterfly, as beautiful as its metamorphosis.

It felt so natural, as if we had already established years of friendship, like two souls that had chosen to come here long ago. To this island, to remember each other, to remember this journey. We didn’t need to talk, although we did for hours at a time. I loved hearing her stories and thoughts.

She told me about this incredible project she had been doing alone. She had traveled to many places and shot incredible self-captured fine art nudes that in ways went beyond what was possible for the models and photographers on tour. I had seen photos from her portfolio but hadn’t understood the scope of what she went through to get them. Coming to a tour was one thing. Traveling alone to scout locations, set up shots, and model for yourself, while simultaneously planning where you'd sleep and eat, timing it right, and keeping it all within your budget was next level. I was deeply impressed.

She was having doubts about it this time around. She missed home and was dreading the struggles she had faced in past solo adventures. Likewise, I feared for her, knowing what she’d been through.

To be continued.

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Photography by Benjamin Sumner Franke

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