Emily is a clown.

No, seriously, that’s what she does for a living — clowning.
Which (as she explained to me) is apparently a much more historical and complex art than most people know or give it credit for.

She talked about clowning as a kind of dance, an absurd and mischievous and magical interaction that can reach people wherever they are, through laughter. Talking with her, I realized that clowning — whether verbal or physical comedy — has a lot to do with compassion and humanity. It’s lovely to realize that even across cultures and languages, using the body to communicate commonly understood and universally human themes — channeling them through play — can bring people together.

She wanted portraits that felt a messy and real, but still clean and bold — showcasing her professionalism and vibrancy while still working as headshots. To offset the naturally awkward process of portrait-taking (because truly, having a camera in your face is always a bit awkward), we decided to approach the session from a place of play and spontaneity.

Perhaps because of that approach, this session has yielded some of my favorite portraits to date.