As a Philadelphia photographer and photojournalist, I am always pushing myself to see things in the moment, yet we also have developed and expertise for great contemporary portraiture that reveals spirit and personality.
Last week, JPG had the great opportunity to photograph a charismatic and exuberant woman, Julia Rae Schlucter, Miss Philadelphia 2015. I first meet Julia Rae about a year ago at fundraising dinner for Cystic Fibrosis. She is a former Miss Metropolitan, a student at Fordham University and is a woman living with Cystic Fibrosis while raising awareness with her nonprofit organization, Singing at the Top of My Lungs that she started as a 16-year-old. As you can imagine, she came off as being someone who had more complexity than one might expect from an average beauty pageant contestant (no offense to you lovely beauty queens out there, but Julia has much more than superficial beauty.) She spoke about her challenges of living with a chronic illness, trying to be a “normal” teenager and told a particularly moving story about her struggle of trying to explain what living with CF is like to her many suitors. One would expect a beauty queen to be personable, but she has something different about her, so I couldn’t help but to stay in touch.
When Julia Rae won Miss Philadelphia, our friendship led her to ask us to do her crown-shots, headshots and some creative, more artistic and outdoor shots. As one could imagine, she had plenty of typical beauty queen photos on her Facebook page, but nothing that really showed her genuine self. When she came over to our studio, we started a series of photos in the portrait studio and our sunroom. From there we headed over to the Art Museum, yes in the 40-degree weather, and had some fun. This beauty queen was a total trouper that is, up until the point her fingers turned a light purple! (My bad Julia!) Having a strong relationship with her already, we were able to push her and ourselves, until we got the perfect shot. Then, out came her nebulizer and then the magic happened; we made a photo of her, Julia Rae, instead of one of just a beauty queen. (This photo to be released soon.)
Working with Julia Rae, Miss Philadelphia made this task easy. JPG looks forward to having more of these kinds of moments with Julia Rae no matter where life takes her. We wish you all of the luck on your adventures and know all of JPG will be rooting for you to accomplish your goal of being Miss Pennsylvania in June.