Racheal Provencher is an emerging photographer from Massachusetts with an eye for capturing the raw beauty in her subjects. We chat to Racheal about lessons learned and life experiences gained that are all part of the development of a truly professional photographer…
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?
During a Senior portrait session about a year ago it really hit me that this was what I wanted to do with my life. The girl that I was taking photos of was, well, not the easiest of subjects. She told me that she was very insecure and very scared of getting photos taken of herself. Right off the bat, I could tell this was not going to be easy. I tried to pose her one way and she went the other way. She was very self-conscious and was certainly not satisfied with the way she felt in front of the camera. I constantly reminded her that she was doing fine and that she looked beautiful. I’ve found positivity and encouragement in any situation helps immensely. So as the shoot went on she began to get comfortable; I could tell that she started to trust me. As she loosened up, the images improved. Once I had finished editing her photos and I got her feedback about the pictures, that was the moment I knew I wanted to be a portrait photographer. She told me, “I’ve gone through life thinking I was mediocre. I had no reason to feel special but these photos, they make me feel special because I feel beautiful, and that is something I haven’t felt in a long time.” Capturing the raw and natural beauty of someone, and allowing them to see themselves in a way they couldn’t before, is the best feeling because I know that I have made a difference in someone’s life.
Detail is huge for me; I love eyes, goosebumps, bone structure – It’s just all so intriguing to me.
Tell us a little bit about your work; how would you define your style and what is it that you want your images to say to the viewer?
I wouldn’t say I have a specific style. Over the last year I have really expanded. For a little while, I was beginning to bore myself. I was so accustomed to shooting Senior portraits and, although being able to capture such a huge milestone in ones teenage years was a great feeling, the rigid structure of such portrait sessions just wasn’t allowing me to be as creative as my mind wanted to be. I had big ideas. Only recently did I actually reach out to the world of Instagram and search for models who would want to be as creative as possible. Luckily, I have found some awesome people that may be even more creative than me. Lately lingerie has been a huge interest of mine; I think capturing the human body is amazing. Detail is huge for me; I love eyes, goosebumps, bone structure – It’s just all so intriguing to me. I like to capture things that aren’t usually the focus of an image. By capturing an individual’s specific details, you can see how truly different and beautiful the human body is. I want my images to show my viewers that you are beautiful. No matter how far apart your eyes are, how much your spine may stick out of your back or how long and ‘awkward’ your legs are, you are a unique creature who has a purpose.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your photography?
I’ll keep this part short and sweet; my biggest inspiration is my Uncle. He recently passed away after battling ALS. He was strong, he loved life and was always up for a crazy adventure. He pushed himself and the people around him. He strove to better himself and his photos. His photography amazes me to this day. The stories behind his images and what it took in order to capture them pushes me to step outside of my comfort zone and just go for it. He went to great heights to take some of his best images and that inspires me to go to even greater heights to get mine.
By being comfortable and going through the same routine every day, I know that I will not be able to perform to my full potential. I want every day to be a learning experience.
What is the best piece of photography advice that you have received?
The best piece of advice I received was ‘Don’t stop and don’t get comfortable. Always push limits. Don’t be like the rest of them’. I have really been working on this. I want to create an image unique to me. I want people to know that I took that image. I don’t want my work to look like anyone could take that shot. I want to take risks and be risky; do things that not just anyone would do. I don’t want to feel comfortable going into a session. I want to challenge myself and become a better photographer each day. By being comfortable and going through the same routine every day, I know that I will not be able to perform to my full potential. I want every day to be a learning experience.
Where do you want your photography to take you next?
I want to travel and meet new people. I have always been incredibly shy and, through photography, I have learned how to be more outgoing and confident in myself. I love the people I have met so far in this journey and I can’t wait to meet even more amazing people and see new places. I want exposure to new things and I want every day to be an adventure. I want to begin a new project capturing the faces of all the different people in the city. I took a trip to Boston this weekend and, for some reason, this visit sparked the idea. It hit me how many different types of people there are and how unique humans are from one to another. I never really expected to go as far as I have and accomplish so much as a self-taught photographer but I am so excited that life has directed me down this path and presented so many opportunities for me. I’m going to continue shooting and just go with the flow; I can feel big things about to happen soon.
See more of Racheal’s work at:
All images copyright Racheal Provencher.