Poh Poh (the Cantonese word for grandmother) was turning 88 years old. Her son was flying in to surprise her and her whole family was gearing up to celebrate her favorite holiday of the year. Poh Poh is fiercely independent and still insists on living alone So the family decided they would take her out for her favorite dumplings, surprise her with her visitors and then open presents back at her house. They asked me if I would consider photographing the whole day. OBVIOUSLY I SAID YES. Because I love birthdays and grandmothers who don't speak English and DUMPLINGS and also I love photographing clients a second time.
Because I had already photographed Poh Poh and her family, (see here) and because I had already wrestled with the light at Din Thai Fung and because I had already made friends with the grandchildren i knew that we all trusted each other.
Common knowledge says that magic happens when your photographer has a good camera and your photographer is talented. That's true. Kind of. It is more true to say that magic happens when you trust your photographer. And when your photographer trusts you. And I would say there is no way to that trust other than building it brick by brick, picture by picture.
Great pictures, that show YOU are a hundred percent about how comfortable you are. And cameras make everything UNCOMFORTABLE. That thing where you feel awkward - IT SHOWS.
So brick by brick, me and my clients, work to build trust. To get comfortable. To get un-awkward. And when that happens, MAGIC HAPPENS.
All of that to say that I was really really giddy to photograph the Woo family a second time because we had made something really beautiful together last time, I knew they would open their hearts a little more to me today and we would go even deeper down the road of life together.
Poh Poh's granddaughter Sassia tells about it in her own words:
"I wanted a photographer at my Poh Poh's birthday party because at 88, she is lively, smiley and strong. Her birthday is her favorite holiday with all her favorite people - that's how all of my family members will remember her - singing happy birthday to herself while laughing.
I chose Leanna because I love the way she frames a moment with people and things. Sometimes it's not what is in focus that is the most important thing in the pictures. As you look deeper at her photographs, you are able to unfold deeper layers of what the mood is at the moment or the history behind the relationships of people.
My favorite from that day is the black and white of a bunch of us Woo Women standing around waiting for the restaurant to open. We are just talking but it's Poh Poh in the background that really catches your eye. Leanna shows her independent - strong nature as she explores the world by herself. I think these photographs show what all of us women strive to be - strong like my Poh Poh."