I love meeting people who are unlike anyone I’ve ever met before.
Deanna told me on the phone that she and Cristian, who have been together for a long time, are very much their own people. They don’t march to the beat of anyone else’s drummer and they are solidly confident in how cool that is. And it is very cool.
We agreed to meet at Deanna’s dad’s house in Vernon, Connecticut. She said there was a cool garden out back (an understatement) and they wouldn’t have to worry about being awkward in front of strangers somewhere more public.
Turns out Deanna’s dad’s house is a primo location for photos of any kind. The backyard was this verdant, lush labyrinth with a serious Secret Garden feel. And the front of the building is great, too, with little pockets of photographic gems.
I knew I was going to like this woman when she got out of her car in all black, with a giant black sunhat and plastic black flowers as props. She had electric blue braids and a rather slow, sardonic way of speaking that would break suddenly into an enormous smile—usually when looking at Cristian. Cristian, meanwhile, was softspoken and definitely not showy. But their connection was palpable and ran deep, and when I got them in front of my camera, magic started happening.
We had such. a. special. session. Deanna, also a photographer, wasn’t banking on any miracles and certainly wasn’t expecting to get emotional or feel moved during our shoot. But that is exactly what happened. As we moved through the garden and they opened up to me, the walls started to crumble. By the end, when we had reached that dusky blue hour that heralds night, I had Cristian whisper something in her ear—something he was proud of her for that she might not know.
I’ll never know what he said, but before I knew it, Deanna was wiping a tear from her face and looking at him with a certain kind of tenderness that is the holy grail in all of my work. These two are perfectly matched. They get each other. They’re strong individually and together…and they make their own gorgeous way in a world that calls for bland fitting in. What a treat this was.