July 19, 2019
When I was nine years old I played Rocky Top at my first and only piano recital. Whether you’re a University of Tennessee fan or not, if you grow up in the state of Tennessee then you grow up singing Rocky Top, and the line in the chorus “Home sweet home to me” always seems to be sung louder than any other throughout the song. Perhaps that is why this song and that line in particular have been stuck in my head since I began working on this session and Kaitlyn and her mom both talked about how much they wanted these portraits to both celebrate Kaitlyn as she enters her senior year of high school as well as showcase this beautiful corner of the country also known as Franklin, Tennessee that they call home. After all, not everyone gets to live, work, and play in one of America’s top rated small towns. And it’s no wonder that national publications regularly list Franklin as one of the best places to live in America. The Harpeth River cuts through the land dotted with horse farms and civil war historic sites that are all walking distance from a Main Street that is possibly more picture-perfect than Disney’s Main Street USA.
A few years ago Franklin First United Methodist Church, which happens to be Kaitlyn’s family’s church moved from their historic home on Main Street to a much larger campus on land that once was one of those farms. I had watched as this new building went up, but until we met to plan the session, I had no idea that the new campus stretched from the new building all the way to the banks of the Harpeth. How special to be able to photograph Kaitlyn in a location that provided a foundation for her faith and at the same time was the perfect setting to celebrate and showcase the more rural parts of Franklin in her portraits.
Kaitlyn has been dancing her whole life. If she’s not rehearsing new choreography or in a technique class of her own she can often be found working with younger dancers as an assistant teacher and demonstrator. I couldn’t pass up the chance to mix in a few dance shots. Because she was in need of new pointe shoes anyway, we could be really creative without worrying about ruining her shoes. I may have taken a bit of bath in the river to get the shot, but it’s one my favorite portraits I’ve ever photographed. And now I want to do even more dance river sessions.
Once we finished up at the river we headed back to the car to make the short drive to Main Street, and I set out to capture Kaitlyn in the places up and down the street that are unmistakably Franklin. We started in the center of the square with the street stretched out behind her. Then walked up and down the street from the square to the theater capturing portraits along the way.
What fun it was to get to celebrate both Kaitlyn and her hometown of Franklin. I pray that no matter where Kaitlyn ends up heading to college next year, whenever she looks at her portraits she will feel like she is home.