Composure is a subtle feeling, like the soft gravity of a distant moon as it makes its endless waves. In this series with Océane we used prisms and mirrors to gently bend light and shadows, hoping to capture some of the poetry that comes with space between inner and out perspective. 🔮🙏
Sometimes when talking to people about how I'm building Composure I get a chance to explain it in terms of "tensions" that I think are important. I think of Composure as a kind of mirror of my own life, and like many others I find myself trying to balance "work" energy that I put into mundane, routine things (like one-off freelance marketing gigs) and "creative" energy that I put into exploring worlds that are new to me (fashion design, photography, and all the other pieces of a growing Composure world).
These two things are always at odds with one another in a way that I usually just describe as one of a few kinds of "tensions" that move Composure forward. When catching up with my friend Océane we were talking about how these tensions pull at each other over the span of weeks and months; we shared our own experiences of feeling low creative energy during times when other pressures are high, and trying to balance that with a drive to make the most of creative energy in times when it's there.
I think my experience is that there's always this somewhat frustrating drive to spend the kind of energy that is least available; Oceane and I talked about how months sometimes go by when we feel like we're not doing enough to build on our creative pursuits even if there's the time to do so, a feeling I think a lot of people relate to. But through the conversation we realized that some of our most cherished creative breakthroughs came at the end of those months, as if the time away allowed for fresh eyes—even if that time felt frustrating in the moment.
We put together this photoshoot as a way to capture those conflicting tensions; moments of openness, and expression alongside others of patience and introspection. Consider it a guide to developing an appreciation for the tensions that come with pursuing creative work, helping us to find and stay the creative path.
Model / styling: Océane Hooks-Camilleri
Amber and I met in Deep Ellum, a Dallas neighborhood known for keeping fringe cultures alive in the heart of Texas.
She told me about how modeling became a creative outlet at a time in her life when she was struggling with depression, challenging herself to explore things she might otherwise never try. She went on to tell a story of finding a deep, confident self that was always there but maybe hidden away at first, unexplored.
Taking those first steps towards an unknown opened up for her a unseen world within the fashion scene, where she found a niche agency representing plus size models for commercial clients.
Now she’s one of the more confident models I’ve worked with, bringing not only her own ideas to the shoot but also the confidence to pull off any creative direction thrown her way.
It’s a story that I relate to, and I think a lot of others do too: we grow up assuming that some creative realms are only appropriate for “others,” and that we’d be trespassing if we were to try and claim a our own personal selves there. I felt that way abut photography for a long time in my life; “only special photography people can become photographers,” is something I vaguely remember sitting in the back of my head for a long time. Only recently did I go through the same transformation as Amber, realizing that the world and all its many beautiful niches are more plentiful than we initially think. 🔮🙏
Model / styling: Amber
As you may know, I've been working more of a lifestyle editorial angle into Composure (see: Uncharted Territory). And I've known that it'll be more than a minor struggle to organize the site in a way that helps people get what Composure is, without being overwhelming.
But while thinking through it is difficult, one of the organization models that has helped me the most is the photojournalism blog of Julia Trotti. Poke around as a travel lifestyle lover, and you'll easily find & follow her lovely series of photo essays. But similarly you could be someone more interested in her fashion, portrait, and commercial photography work, and still find your way quickly to her portfolio. The two are blended together so well you might not even notice the difference between the two. Which is no small feat.