I met Shanice in a brief few moments of shooting times overlapped. 7 minutes until the Uber started honking. But until then: both a clear mind and the soft weight of shadows in the sunlight 🔮🙏
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. 🔮🙏
In the beginning, Composure just a slowly drifting swirl of thoughts in my head, pieces of an impossibly long story that I started trying to put into words and into scarves. One of the chapters of that story was about a particular kind of art, the kind of art that works in the medium of business; I was struck by the idea that business is a medium for some kinds of artists, just like paint is a medium for some and words are for others. It helped that people like Andy Warhol were known for saying things like "making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art."
The second volume of the Composure newsletter featured these kinds of artists, and Brennan was one of the first people I found to help bring the series to life. Brennan is a candlemaker based in Toronto, bringing artistry to the work of making candles into beautiful things that shape our environments. In his newsletter feature he shared smart notes on the importance of creating welcoming spaces and on the balance that comes with navigating humbling uncertainty. When we found time to meet in NYC we knew we had a rare opportunity to share more.
On a later winter morning that was brisk but streaked with sun, Brennan introducing me to a world of oils steamed and distilled from naturally occurring flora, fauna, and otherwise. For Brennan, these things can create entire palettes of scents, built on a balance of varied axises that remind me of a kinetic mobile hanging delicately in the air. In this world of balance, scales of richness and depth pull against others representing a range of textures, counterbalanced by degrees of sweet and dry.
We spend the most time talking excitedly about a shared obsession: the idea that we all collect our own unique experiences of the world, and that maybe our one job on this earth is just to share those experiences through beautiful things that others want to be a part of. For Brennan, those experiences become memories, and scents makes for a beautiful medium through which to share these meaningful moments. He went on to tell me about a particular kind of musk that's a part of all his fragrances, one he remembers from a Canadian childhood near the woods. Sitting in a Swedish coffee shop, the cardamom buns inspire reminiscence of a recent trip to Stockholm; we talk about where we're going next and maybe what we'll find out about ourselves once we're there.
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