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A WRITTEN PORTRAIT

Rachel Bush is a photographer, videographer, and creative director based in Nashville, Tennessee. A memory that glows golden in her eyes is one when she was a child accompanying her mom, who used to work as a photographer, on a family shoot. To help her mom catch the children’s attention, she started cartwheeling around the room which was the beginning of her developing her own photography style- one resplendent with swirling movement and luminescent emotion. Her photography reflects her deep love for people as the true essence of the subject photographed flows through Rachel’s camera lens like liquid gold, almost as if she captured the person at the very moment that sunlight poured through their body and illuminated all that they are. 

Rachel tells us that as a photographer she has detached from herself a little bit, so she does not feel that she knows what she looks like. In the same way that many of those she photographs look most like themselves through her camera lens, as a romantic, perhaps her favorite way to see herself is through the orbital lens of her fiancee. Her fiancee, Larissa Santos, when asked how she views Rachel, says “You are like the sun, with a light so immense. You have so much grace and empathy. At times you are like a sponge absorbing everything and everyone around you. But my favorite way to view you, is as the love of my life.” Larissa’s view of Rachel colors in much of Rachel’s portrait in shades of golden sunlight complimented by the depth, splendor, and romance of a plum-toned hue. Larissa’s description of Rachel is like the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote in This Side of Paradise, “Deepest of all in her personality was the golden radiance that she diffused around her. As an open fire in a dark room throws romance and pathos into the quiet faces at its edge, so she cast her light and shadows around the rooms that held her.” Rachel’s warmth, like a child’s oscillating cartwheel, spreads to those behind her camera and lights them from the inside out which is why light is the main source of inspiration for her portrait. Read below for a full written PORTRAY-T of Rachel Bush!

First, Happy New Year! I know you are traveling a lot through trovatrip this year, joined by others who signed up for the trip. What are you most looking forward to on these trips? 

My Trova Trip to Italy in May will be the first time my family has been overseas. I’m sooo excited to see my Dad geek out over all of the history and art. Beyond that I’m just pumped to see the cities through fresh eyes and watch everyone have their special moments. It will also be my first time teaching to larger groups and I’m so honored to be doing my dream job.

I know your mom was a photographer and you used to come with her on jobs when you were very young. Is there one really vivid childhood memory you could share related to seeing your mom as a photographer? 

I remember Mom bringing me along to one family shoot in particular. The little kids were screaming and no one could get them to settle and pay attention. Mom looked at me frustrated and said, “Do a backflip.” So I took off cartwheeling and flipped all around her. I finally caught the kids' attention and they started laughing and clapping while they watched my every move. This was the beginning of my photography style. I love shooting very fast paced- lots of music and movement at all times. My subject and I are rarely in the same place or pose for too long. This keeps the model filled with emotion and makes the expression more organic. 

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Rachel in Rome, Italy 

In your photography, I notice that you seem to like to play with light sources, especially warm light. Is this intentional? In other words, do you feel like you’ve developed a signature look or aesthetic in your work? 

I feel my work definitely has an aesthetic. I like my photos to look like an ancient dream- something you experienced, but you can’t quite name the feeling. I gravitate towards warm tones, specifically gold and orange. 

There’s a major interpersonal element to photography in making the person you are photographing feel comfortable enough to play with angles and to feel confident enough in front of the camera. Is this a skill that you feel like you are constantly working on improving or did it come somewhat naturally to you? 

Since I was a child I would often have strangers tell me their deepest insecurities or dark life stories, I think this has translated into my work. I feel that bringing people ease comes naturally to me. I like to keep my energy wide open while I’m shooting so that my subject can express themselves fully. This makes our final product speak to people much deeper.

 

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In creating art portraits, I find that my work is really affected by the way I view the person I am drawing, by the feeling they give off, or by my mood at that moment. Do you find that your photographs sometimes reflect whether you love or are in love with the person photographed or your emotional state in any way? 

I tend to see the best in people even when I shouldn’t. So, I think my photos always express people in their golden moment. If I am feeling off or not emotionally stable I will always avoid shooting if I can because my emotions will leak into the images. Sometimes that can be an incredible thing but sometimes they read too heavy. 

When I’m taking pictures of my fiancee I feel like you can feellll the soulmate vibe through the photo. Every image I take of her is my favorite image. Her soul shines so bright. 

Congratulations on your engagement, the announcement video was really beautiful! I know you have a lot of experience photographing weddings. Since you became a professional photographer, have you had a dream vision for what you want your wedding photos to look like? 

Oh yessss I have all the visions for our wedding. It is probably the most excited I’ve ever been for something. I am in the process of finding the appropriate creatives for my ideas now. I will definitely be going the route of ancient and regal.

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"I like my photos to look like an ancient dream- something you experienced, but you can’t quite name the feeling."

RACHEL BUSH

Is there a specific photo you’ve taken that is particularly special to you or that makes you feel something slightly more than other photos do? 

One of my favorite images is of my little sister. We shot with a pilot who flew right above her head while we raced forward on a fourwheeler. It was the most epic shoot I've ever done. So many moving pieces had to come together perfectly for it to work. 

Your photography work is titled “Oxytocin Photography” which is really fitting. How do you feel that this name best represents your work? 

I came up with the name Oxytocin Photography in college. I was a psych major and learning about the bodies most important chemicals in relation to connection and happiness. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone, we feel it when we give birth, have sex, embrace someone etc. It allows us to deeply connect with those around us and I felt that this was encompassing of my art. I go back and forth on rebranding but it holds such a special place in my heart. 

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If you could bottle three scents, what would they be and what do they remind you of? 

One.       

Walking into a building and being greeted by everyone you love. It’s warm and exhilarating. Fresh and deep. 

Two.       

Kissing your lover at night in a new city. It’s buzzing and luxurious. Intoxicating and alluring. 

Three.       

Laying in the sunny grass on an autumn day. Crisp and airy. Burnt citrus. 

 

Do you have a favorite piece of advice you’ve ever been told or favorite saying? 

If it scares you but you feel even a glimmer of excitement, run towards it. 

How do you view yourself? Is it different from the way others tend to view you? 

I always tell my friends that I have no idea what I look like. Being a photographer and seeing so many images of myself growing up has made me detach from myself a bit. I don’t think I could explain myself to a stranger. It’s as if every time I see myself I look different. As far as my character I would say I’m a very chaotic person. I can go anywhere and do anything at any time. My heart is huge and I collect people. I love all things old and romantic. I could spend hours learning about something and I’m extremely visual. I love movement and music and prefer to be constantly stimulated in that way. 

I asked my fiancee how she views me and she said… 

 

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“At times I view you as a child. Full of energy and the desire to explore. Then there are times I view you as a little old lady who wants to be cuddled. You are like the sun, with a light so immense. You have so much grace and empathy. At times you are like a sponge absorbing everything and everyone around you. But my favorite way to view you is as the love of my life.”

rachel santos

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