Amy Parrish and I met after I saw her photography work on another friend's page just a couple of years ago. I contacted her on Facebook when I saw how amazing her work was, and that she lived just literally fifteen minutes from my house. We met for the first time at a local coffee shop, and wound up spending about three hours there just talking and getting to know each other.
Amy and her husband Ryan (also a marvelous and talented person) have decided to move to Savannah so that she can pursue a masters in fine arts/photography. I admire her courage to make such a big decision and to change her entire life so wholly. But man...I'm going to miss her.
Amy has a beautiful home in rural Ohio. Her house always looked like it was ready for its close up in Country Living magazine...a sophisticated blend of rustic and contemporary. The whole house and all its surroundings were a cohesive whole in style and artistic voice. But as Amy actually has said of other friends of hers in the past, a true artist makes his or her entire life a canvas. That's very true of Amy.
She is the perfect hostess, with beautiful vignettes on the food tables, stations set up for grabbing mason jars and going to pick wildflowers, or taking a mini canvas and paints to create something new. If ever possible, I always rsvp'ed yes to her events, because I knew that even if I didn't know another soul there besides Amy, I'd still have a great time.
She is also a phenomenal photographer, with skill that continuously awes me. And the reason why I've mentioned these three things...her artistic eye, her kindness to others, and her technical skills, is that these are the three things that came together in her photography to make her so incredibly successful. Families would come to her farmhouse from all around, some even flying in from other states to get their portraits done by Amy. Because she made you feel comfortable and relaxed. But I've had other photographers who have done that too. Most importantly, she saw something in each person that no one else could ever captured. She has that unteachable skill that comes from a combination of kind heart and artistic depth: the ability to see the beauty that lies in every individual.
The first time Amy and I got together to "play" and take some pictures, I not only had a ball taking them, but I was blown away by the results. The images that resulted from that day remain some of my very favorites I've ever been a part of creating.
The first photo has been recreated by two artists as well:
|Elaine Silverman Sturm|
Last summer, Amy asked me over again to "play," this time with corn syrup, twigs, and giant leaves. The result was a portrait of a Green Woman. And when Amy sent me the image later the same day we took it, I burst into tears, a reaction I've never had to any image I've helped to create before. It was a visceral reaction...Amy had captured exactly and precisely the sort of image I had always dreamed of being a part of with my amateur modeling. It was mysterious, earthy, magical, and I adored it more than I could possibly say. It remains, arguably, my favorite image I've ever been a part of creating.
|(yes, I really was wearing those leaves)|
When the time came to call my Grandma up on her promise to me last birthday to have portraits taken together, I could think of no one I'd rather have capture them. Not only did I know the resulting images would be heirlooms, but I also knew that Amy's calm demeanor and the way she radiates kindness would immediately assuage my Grandma's nerves at doing something so foreign to her. And sure enough, not only were the resulting images ones I'll treasure forever, but the experience itself was wholly pleasurable and memorable. I'll never forget it.
Amy also pointed out two things I've never noticed in 34 years: My Grandma and I have the same hands, and we have the same unbridled smile when we laugh.
As you can see above, Amy Parrish has given me so much over so short a time. So many memories, so much inspiration for how to be as both an artist and as a human being. She is a truly singular soul, and I will miss her terribly when she's moved away. Thank you, Amy, for every moment we got to spend together, both creating and just being.
Despite how much I will miss her, I am also excited to see how she grows as an artist as a result of this choice. No matter what new direction her life takes her in, I cannot wait to continue to see the results of her expression.