I recently got to shoot some very special portraits for a music feature in the Charleston City Paper on local comeback musician, Benji Lee. The weird part, however, was the shoot and the article really weren't focused at all on his music, his drumming, or even his comeback to the local music scene. The article focused acutely and specifically on his depression.
In my all-too-short time with Benji, we were on a fast track to get to know each other (shooting editorial will do that to you). I don't think there would have been any other way for either of us, though. We became immediate friends. I picked Benji up north on the peninsula of Charleston and we took as short drive to some old, rusty storage shed for the horse drawn carriages near the waterfront. I needed a spot that was a little imperfect. Not the "South of Broad" facade my typical clients request. I needed something real and honest and gritty. I needed something to reflect what I was about to see spilled open in front of my very eyes.
In so many ways, I feel more connected to this shoot I did with Benji than any other shoot I have done in a while. His pure candor and sheer honesty made me want to show more. His humility and gentle spirit made me want to linger all afternoon - asking questions and picking his brain. I wanted to photograph his insides. His heart and soul. I wanted to show his truth.
So on that steamy afternoon, I found a shady spot to spend a short time with my new hero. He would most likely shun that label, but I think Benji is a brave soldier - fighting the battle every day with depression...slugging it out with himself and still standing strong in the face of one of the worst diseases of all.
If you care to ready about Benji and his battle, check out the Charleston City Paper this week.
In the mean time, warrior on, brave souls. Warrior on.