When you think of opera singers, what comes to mind? Are they a certain age or race? Size or gender? Who studies opera these days?
I’m the incredibly lucky best friend of Olivia Boen, an up and coming opera star currently studying at Guildhall School of Music in London. It’s a privilege witnessing what it takes to make it in the classical music industry; I continuously learn so much from her experience, her artistry, and the dedication she brings to her craft from all aspects of her life. From the way she takes care of herself and remains mentally, physically, and spiritually curious about the world, to how she applies her wisdom to her work and her relationships, Olivia is one of the wisest people I know. Her intensity, however, is met equally by her joie de vivre; her expressiveness as an artist comes from her ability to live earnestly in every moment, from the serious to the silly. During our shoot, I got to see for the first time from behind the lens how she can pierce the viewer with a sultry stare one moment, and cartwheel her way (sometimes literally) into face-scrunching hilarity without skipping a beat. It was incredible as a photographer to capture her range, and a true joy as a friend to use my own craft to share her shine.
The result? One walk along the river and lake to catch up during her latest visit to Chicago turned into a collection of multiple looks and moods. It was completely off the cuff and unplanned — and absolutely perfect.
We started our shoot along Chicago’s Riverwalk, finding the perfect nook of gorgeous greenery to begin.
Next, we transformed this bench into our own warm, woody backdrop. The way her skin glows against the rich color and texture of the wood... *chefs kiss*
We loved how Olivia’s floral dress coordinated with the blooms around her so perfectly, as if they were waiting for us to create this soft and muted scene. Ethereal garden fairy vibes, for sure.
Golden hour. No explanation necessary.
We headed to the docks next, using the last of the day’s stronger rays to catch the lake’s blue tones before the sun dipped behind the skyline.
With some cloud cover we tapped into more dramatic and moody tones. Hard to believe these photos were all captured on the same day, let alone within minutes of each other!
By sundown we’d walked over 14,000 steps from the Chicago river all the way to the Adler Planetarium. With the sun putting on its last show of the day, Olivia pulled out all the stops with her stunning movement and grace. True artistry.