Photo Story: Serve the Servants

A former model, this woman was an interesting moment in a night of 1,500 photographs

For the past decade, these lyrics have been burned in my mind, "Teenage angst has paid off well, now I'm bored and old."  They are the opening lyrics to the Nirvana song "Serve the Servants," which in turn is the opening track on the album In Utero, the follow up to the greatest album of my generation, Nevermind.  I cannot tell you how many times those lyrics randomly pass through my mind each week, but I can tell you it is multiple times.  

I met the woman in the portrait above while photographing the Treasure Island Yacht & Tennis Club's huge New Year's Eve party.  Whenever I photograph such an event, I always photograph the staff as well (though never asked to), with whom I naturally feel a greater connection.  We are in fact both the servants of the wealthier hirer.  Me just for that day or night, they for an undetermined amount of time.  However, as a photographer, I cross both social lines since photographing someone is a personal action, I can be close to the guests of the event on that level, but also to the staff working behind the scenes as I too am just an employee.  I like being able to cross both lines.

I had a chance to speak with the woman above for a few moments.  I had seen her from afar and knew immediately I wanted to photograph her.  Her face has a lot of character, and something about her hairstyle fascinates me.  Maybe it is the color?  Or maybe that it is not the typical hairstyle for a woman that age?  I asked her to stand in front of the wall so as to produce a clean background and to allow me to bounce the Nikon SB-800 Speedlight I was using off the opposite wall to light her as best I could in such a random space.

Such a portrait as this is not a priority to a client, but I made a mental note of it while going through the full 1,500 photo batch from the event to sometime highlight and single out this portrait.

The woman went on to tell me she did some modeling when she was younger.  As is my usual custom, I only wanted to hear her story, happy to only listen.  I cannot stand to speak of mine, and I was glad she did not ask any questions of me.  I would like someday to ask her more questions if I ever had the chance.  

In the meantime, "serve the servants" will continue to echo through my mind . . .