I was sitting on a wooden bench watching my children at play inside the human sized gerbil-trail play structures at Albuquerque’s Rio Grande Zoo. It’s the final destination in the park for parents of rambunctious kids who need to run off excess energy before going home. Near me was this young mother, Alyssa. She was calling out to her 7-year-old to finish playtime so they could leave. She had given him a countdown and time warnings, and a notice of their need to depart. He was completely ignoring her pleas to come out of the jungle gym.
I recognized that she wasn’t about to get up and go in to grab him, so I also could see I had time to make my approach. I walked over to her, and introduced myself. I suggested she distract herself for a minute or two and join my photo project, as subject Seven. Alyssa told me she has a few selfies from her camera phone and doesn’t have a lot of photographs of herself taken by others. Most of her memory card is filled up with mini movies and photos of her son.
I told her that I was just starting out on my project and would like to be able to have a diverse representation of ‘Burque in my submissions; people from Albuquerque. That appealed to her, although at first she was hesitant. Then Alyssa asked, “Can I put on some lip gloss before you start?” She smacked her lips together, arranged a piece of her hair slightly over her right eyebrow, a spot where she mentioned being self-conscience about a scar. Then she said, “Let’s do it.”
Sensing that if she wasn’t going to get up to retrieve her son, I couldn’t expect her to move to a different location with a more interesting background. So I took a moment to make sure I had her lined up in my lens, focused on her eyes, and pressed the shutter. Immediately afterwards, she asked to see the photo, and she liked it.
One shot and we were done.
We exchanged emails. As I was entering her contact information, along came a young man. It was her son’s father. He is my next portrait. He agreed to a photo as well, so that was convenient for securing my next subject! In the evening, as promised, I sent her a high resolution file of her photo, links to the project, and my blog as well.
Thank you, Alyssa!