She was the first professional model I worked with after moving to Virginia.
I honestly can’t remember exactly how I first met Jessica Magary (https://www.facebook.com/jessica.magary). I think it was on a group shoot where a bunch of photographers get together with a bunch of models and worked with everyone for a little bit. I’m not sure. But somehow we did meet up and we agreed to do a solo session together. I even remember the date and location – September 28th, 2011 at First Landing State Park.
Now, mind you I was new to the area. I was living in Williamsburg and teaching but really hadn’t gotten into the local scene yet. I was still refining my off-camera flash skills, didn’t know the Virginia Beach area at all, and was looking for someone to work with to get my skills down.
In walks Miss Jessica. Her and her mom were super nice and understanding. We talked about rescheduling the session as there was supposed to be a storm.
Now, let me stop right here and explain something. If you know me, you know my philosophy about rescheduling due to weather predictions. For a variety of reasons, I ignore them unless every single person says it with 100 percent certainty. Plus, I truly believe that the best location images happen with powerful, dramatic backgrounds. I am that person that runs towards the storm, not away from them.
So we started. As we do our thing, I kept an eye on the sky and saw the conditions change from good to bad to oh oh. We would stop from time to time and decide if we should stay or go. The sun was out over us but clearly a front was moving in fast.
This remarkable woman voted to stay every time. She stood her ground against the encroaching storm and owned it. She never once waivered. In fact it was me that finally blinked and said we should go. I saw the line of wind and rain coming across the water right towards us and knew we were in trouble.
We didn’t have time to pack. We literally grabbed everything up in our arms and ran like hell to the parking lot as the wind ramped up. We didn’t make it to the stairs when the sky opened up and unloaded a torrent of rain. We sat and waited in our cars for the worst to blow over before leaving. Needless to say the streets were flooded as that area always does when it rains.
The first two images below are from that epic first session, before all hell literally broke loose.
Well, needless to say, Jessica left an indelible mark in my book. We have weathered a few storms together now during our sessions over the years. She has been my “go-to” person when I wanted to try something new. I look forward to our time together, even if it is once or twice a year.
She is my bench-mark. I can see my growth as an artist in our work together. I can see several changes not only in the way I shoot but also how I edit the images. Again, going back to the first two images below. My style has changed so much that I went back this morning and re-edited them because I didn’t like the way they look now. Plus they were cropped/sized way too small and wouldn’t look good on todays monitors.
It goes without saying that she is in my list of all time favorite people to work with. Her professionalism, her dedication, and her openness to my crazy ideas is unmatched. She doesn’t even flinch when I say “I have a crazy idea”.
It has been my greatest honor and pleasure to share some time with this person. I’ve watched her grow but she has also allowed me to grow immensely. I can’t wait to create more outstanding images with her.
Mark Knopp is a Virginia-Beach-based portrait photographer and teacher that covers the Hampton Roads community and beyond. Contact him today at mknopp1(at)cox.net for all your photographic needs.