Do you ever have that one person that you know where you can't remember how you met them but you're glad you did? That's how it is with Rajaa. I do know that I met her on The Book, but can't remember how. I want to say that it was because I saw her on my friend Kevin Brown's page. Kevin was a guy I had done some shoots with in the past. He hung out with other model types so I already knew many of his friends, but not her.
What struck me about Rajaa was how her look was a combination of two of my favorite celebrities: Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. Now I should probably qualify that by saying that I am referring to classic Lauryn Hill. The Lauryn Hill was was the peak of her success in the late 90s with the inimitable cd "The Mis-Education of Lauryn Hill". Back when she was normal. Not the Lauryn Hill now who when she does show up in public is bound to look a little crazy and a shadow of her former self.
There's probably something else that needs explaining that has been inferred in a few of these posts but hasn't actually been mentioned. Any photog and/or model reading these would have picked up on it, but not the average person. That is that I will occasionally do shoots that are known as 'TF' shoots. It stands for "Trade For". It is normally done when an established model and established photog want to collaborate for a shoot. Rather than one paying the other, they trade. So neither is charging and the session.
The purpose of a TF shoot is it helps out both parties. Both the photographer and the model get new photos they can use to better their portfolio. Usually it is done so one or both of them can try out ideas that would add some diversity to their portfolio. That diversity would hopefully then lead to more business when potential clients see that style. At least that's how it is for me when I do it. I will try to find folks that have a look and/or style I haven't shot before. That's how it was with Rajaa.
The difference was that Rajaa wasn't an established model. Honestly, it is hard to find those types in the Des Moines area though. At least the ones that are willing to do TF shoots. They either will just flat out refuse to do TF shoots (meaning they want to get paid) or they can't because of some contractual obligation. Sure, there are exceptions and I had been fortunate to get some of those too. But I usually had my best luck when I found those folks who didn't travel in those normal model circles. Plus, when I shot with one of the non traditional model people, I get a chance to showcase someone that the photog and model community hadn't seen before.
With Rajaa, I was very fortunate to get an individual who was not a a professional model per se, but certainly knew how to work it like one. She was quite reserved and quiet in person until it came time for camera action. Once in front of the lens and it was go time, she was able to flip that switch. She could hit poses that were picture perfect with very little to no direction. Each one even better than the next. To be fair, I rather expected that to happen based on a few of the selfies I had seen from her. But you still never know. Some folks are fine taking pictures of themselves then freeze up if it ever came to an actual photo shoot. That wasn't the case with Rajaa at all.
This shot almost didn't make the final cut of my edits with her. I was once again using the gridded stripbox with a black backdrop. I had a beauty dish in front of her to get an even light. I wanted the stripbox to provide a rim light of sorts on her right side. However, I had positioned it a little closer than intended. I snapped and came up with an almost ethereal glow off to her right. Had she been doing any other type of pose, it probably wouldn't have worked. But the expression on her face and her positioning seemed to work perfectly with that light. I didn't change a thing.
Now there's an old saying that goes "The only photographer I'm trying to be better be is the one I was yesterday". Although I do subscribe to that, I still find myself subconsciously seeking the approval of other photogs. Especially those that have been in the game longer than me. I take it as the biggest compliment ever when I post a pic and a photog who I highly respect "likes" it. That lets me know I'm doing something right. At least on that particular photo. This capture of Rajaa got a few of those type of likes. Day made.