In 2010 we moved from California to Savannah. I launched my photography business quicker than you can say "Salt Life" and began to build my client base. I placed an add through a local business called Southern Mama's and booked my first client at Butter Bean Beach. Weeks before the session I "met" my client over a phone call where she explained she wasn't sure how this was going to go - her oldest daughter was extremely shy. If you know me - you know this didn't scare me. Kids are my jam, I love them, I love talking to them and most of the time I act like one. But she went on - "No, like really shy. She probably won't speak to you but it's not you." Hmmmm. a challenge - and I was up for it - a bit nervous (this was my first family shoot) but totally up for it. Reise's favorite color is purple - so the day of the shoot I showed up feeling a little like Barney. I do not lie - purple pants, purple shirt and maybe even purple eyeshadow. Reise did not say much to me that day - not a word in fact. But we had a connection and it's something that has continued over the years.
Purple isn't my color but it was 100% worth it because 7 years later I have the pleasure of interviewing Reise for my Follow Your Art Project. My heart was so full as she looked me in the eye and quietly answered every question I had for her. She said more to me in that 15 minute interview than she had that past 7 years. It was a big day for both of us. <3
Reise is a beautiful young lady - obviously (this is where i brag that I get to photograph her). She is quiet and communicates mostly by whispering. In school you might see her accept an award with her head down and shoulders slumped but put her on a stage and all of that melts away.
In a packed theater with hundreds of people watching - Reise takes the stage with confidence, beauty and grace. One might say she owns it. And she does. What's more is that Reise has been dancing for only 18 months and has excelled quickly. Imagine finding something that makes you smile just talking about it. Something that comes so easily to you because your whole heart is in it. Something that melts away the day to day and no matter what - its never enough. For Reise, that is dance. And her happiness is contagious.
That's what I'm talking about. Did you know a recent study finds that when one person becomes happy, the effect can spread up to 3 degrees in a social network — reaching friends of friends. Researchers say this is evidence that because our lives are interconnected, so too is our emotional health.
Research also shows dance can improve your mental health by boosting your overall happiness. It raises your heart rate causing a release of feel-good endorphins in the bloodstream.
So, if you're reading this - do three things for me.
1. Go post something happy on social media.
2. Find something that makes your heart happy.
And 3....dance party anyone?
Here are a few questions I asked Reise:
When did you start dancing?
"I was 9."
What is dance to you?
"A place for me to be happy."
What do you want to do with dance?
"Keep dancing. Maybe teach."
What is your favorite thing about dance?
"Getting to see my friends."
What is the favorite aspect of your art?
"It gets me away from stress."
Do you have a favorite dance routine?
"My duet with another Reese for the school talent show."
What inspires you to dance?
"My teacher Elyse. And it makes me happy."