Day One / by jenna madonia

What can I say about day one of shooting? It was INCREDIBLE. I woke up at 7:45 a.m. to be on location by 9:00 a.m. I am not a morning person whatsoever. Good thing I have to amazing Amy to prepare coffee and breakfast for me once I get to the location!

My first shoot was at 11:30 with Amelia, who chose Margaret Cho. How inspiring, right? Just hearing her talk about Margaret was fulfilling enough. I could really understand Amelia’s connection to Cho, which is the point for me. I want to be able to connect with everyone involved with this project and truly understand them. Having Amelia be my first shoot was the perfect outcome. My nerves were on edge while I waited for her to get to the location but once I started shooting and heard her talking about Margaret, I felt like I was home. I forgot my nerves, my doubts, my insecurities in myself as a photographer, and I just did the thing. How incredible is that? This is exactly why I shoot.

Next up I had Jasmine who chose her mom. I identified with her immediately as she told me why she chose her mom and the pills on her arm. I’ll let her tell her own story, but I related due to the fact that my mother too has to take lots of pills due to two forms of cancer and heart troubles. What an awesome idea! I looked back at her photo today and it filled my eyes with tears. What a brilliant, unique, original idea this is. I can’t wait for you guys to see her portrait. Anyone with a parent who suffers and is constantly taking pills can relate to her image. Beautiful.

Katy Miller, my roller derby wife and constant cheerleader was next. This woman has been a constant inspiration to me since I met her almost two years ago. I remember skating with her at practice one night and her asking me what all I did outside of photography, since I have not yet been able to completely quit my job and do photography full time. She went on to discuss several things with me about being me apologetically, that I can and will make it happen for myself, and that she’s there with me every step of the way. She, of course, was the third person I told this idea to. I can’t even put into words how much this woman means to me. She chose Kathleen Hanna. What a perfect choice for her too! It was amazing to me because I was able to connect even more to Katy through this image and her story of just why she chose Kathleen. It’s amazing the things we can learn about those around us that we feel we already know so much about. If I wasn’t doing my photo on Brody Dalle, I would’ve chosen Katy, if that tells you anything about this incredible woman!

At one point, I had Amelia, Jasmine, and Katy there all at the same time. We all sat talking about the project and the women we chose. That was the most memorable experience from the day. It is exactly what I hope to come from the book, but there, right there in front of me happening. They get it. They understand even more than I thought that they did. I’ll never forget that moment and I’m so glad Amy was able to capture it in a bit of video. It’ll definitely be a cherished memory for the rest of my life.

Maybe one of the other memorable moments was just me, shooting. Doing the thing. Actually working on the idea that I had and not worrying about every little thing while I’m shooting. Shooting is definitely my happy place. I know that but I still get so nervous beforehand. I did it though. When I was leaving for the day, Amy gave me a hug and said, “You did it!” That brought yet more tears to my eyes as I drove home ecstatic for what I had just accomplished.

The best thing is, this journey is only just beginning. I can’t wait for the final outcome of what I am to learn about myself, and the women around me. Girl Gang forever!