Some people you like instantly. You just know right away. Cory's mom is someone I've known for years, but I'd never met Cory. That didn't seem to matter. From the first moment, he talked to me like he'd always known me.
I love people like that.
He didn't want the usual senior pictures - the brick walls, the fire escape steps and all that jazz. In fact, I'm not sure he wanted senior pictures at all. That's pretty typical - especially of boys. They do it because their mom wants them to. Or because that's what you do when you're a senior. But if they had to choose, they probably wouldn't do it at all.
His mom asked me if I had any advice on what to wear. If you've read this blog before, you know what I said. "What does he feel comfortable in? What does he like wearing?" That's my favorite way to shoot people. Some people want to go all out and wear crazy things. Others don't. Both are fine. I just like to find out who YOU are and shoot that.
So Cory showed up with his favorite t-shirts - each representing a little bit of who he is. Not only that, he wanted his pictures taken where he works. That's right. You heard me. Most people try to stay away from where they work. But then again, most people don't work in a place like this.
It's acres and acres of backwoods. He mows and weeds and builds things for a family that has gorgeous sprawling property. And who also run a Christian day camp and soccer camps in the summer.
It was clear from the beginning that he didn't want anything fancy or frilly. He loves the outdoors and animals and kids. He needed pictures that were simple and straightforward. So we went to the woods where the mosquitoes were biting even through bug spray, and the back roads were merely tracks left from a Gator. Back where there's a silence that you just can't get very many places.
I figured out pretty quickly that Cory wasn't going to shove his hands in his pockets or look away shyly. He wasn't going to try to disappear from the camera. Both feet were planted, and he stood up straight. I asked him, "Is that how you normally stand? Don't you ever, you know, slouch?"
"Nope," he said.
And I could be wrong, but I get the feeling Cory's the kind of kid that meets things head-on. Here I am, take me or leave me. I admire that.
It's not often that I get to shoot someone in a place they love so much. Cory was alive out there. He spread his arms wide and said, "I wanted to live here all summer, just camping out." He showed his mom and me all of his favorite places and landmarks. He loves that place. And the people and the animals there love him, too.
The thing I kept thinking after I left was that I wish the world were made up of people like Cory - the way he loves animals and being outdoors, the way he's strong and athletic and yet so funny and kind-hearted, too. We'd all be living in a much better place. But thank goodness for all of us, we at least have this one.