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  • Writer's pictureJill Macdonald

Is This Business or Personal?

I have the privilege of going on an annual backcountry ski touring trip with a group of very accomplished women. This year, we glamped in an insulated yurt decked out with a woodstove, propane two-burner cooktop, cots, chairs and one solar light. Water came from a hole chopped in the frozen lake and there were outdoor bathroom solutions. It was surprisingly comfortable, easy to manage and our daily chores were part of the shared experience. We spent five nights in the wilderness, just long enough to fall into the rhythm of a new life which is what I appreciate the most about these trips, we let go of our usual ways of being.

My creative challenge was to capture portraits of my friends that were honest and intimate, something I could only do by putting myself inside their personal space. Although I was upfront about taking the photos, the process was not always comfortable and I found myself trying to be discreet. When I examined that, what came up was the distinction between personal and private, the line between sharing and exposure.

Transparency, authenticity and full disclosure – I am wary of these words. I prefer honesty. Our morning faces were lined and marked from sleep, we moved slowly and didn’t talk. My routine was to be up first, get the fire going and make a round of coffee for everyone. I had the opportunity to point my camera at stiff knees, sore feet, puffy eyes and the naked gratefulness of being looked after. I thought about it, but only once did I take the photo. The floor of the yurt was snow, covered by thin foam pads, for insulation and to keep things dry. Inevitably, however, heat and moisture from us being in there deformed the snow more each day, it sloped and pooled and became increasingly uneven. One night, one of us trenched her cot on a steep angle away from the woodstove to prevent herself from rolling into it during her sleep. Burrowed in her sleeping bag, tangled curly grey hair sticking out, her posture was that of a small creature in a perilous nest. It made me laugh. I snapped a shot and immediately, the fun was over. I had crossed the line.

Authenticity comes from honesty, not exposure. My friend asleep was a private moment, not a personal one. I think about that when writing copy, taking portraits and working on designs with Catherine. The goal is to create an experience that reflects the values of a business, their extroverted or quiet presence, what makes their product unique and how they support their clients. The business is not the person. We have to dig deeper and retain the integrity of the creative process. Trust is an essential ingredient of that relationship.

It takes more time and effort to craft a personalized website. Our goal is to create memorable, unique experiences that will stand the test of time and draw customers to your business because they like what they see and feel, honestly.

On the last day of our trip, I showed everyone the portraits I had taken. The one of my friend asleep was not among them, it stays in my memory, part of a larger story that informs our private exchanges of trust.

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