I first met photographer Elizabeth Messina at the wedding reception of Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott in Los Angeles. At the time, I was in the early stages of pregnancy with my first child, and apart from my husband, Elizabeth was the first person I told, despite her being a complete stranger to me. This is the immediate effect she has on people: You instantly get the feeling that this is a woman you can trust with your deepest secrets and your biggest joys. Many months later, I hired her to take my pregnancy photos, and since then she’s worked with me on several magazine shoots, has photographed my family repeatedly, and has become one of my closest friends.
Beyond being a dear friend, Elizabeth is also an exceptional photographer, her success due partly to how well she relates and responds to others. She possesses an innate sense of how to work with natural light and expose film in a way that gives her images a uniquely luminous quality. By working with fixed lenses, she’s forced to work up close with her subjects—something she loves to do—and physically move with and around them, creating truly intimate images. Because she’s working with film, she can crate wonderful little breaks during the shoot while she or one of her assistants reloads the camera. This is a special time for Elizabeth, when she might happen upon an unguarded moment or an introspective glance from her subject that emerges naturally. All these elements are inherent in an Elizabeth Messina shoot, creating a sense of oneness between herself and her subject as they work together in a graceful collaboration that ultimately results in an image reflecting the subject’s innermost beauty and, more importantly, true self.
Which brings me back to that first encounter with Elizabeth. Right then I knew that a very special person stood before me, someone who effortlessly brings out the beauty in other people. This is ultimately why Elizabeth’s photographs glow. When I look at the portraits she has taken of me over the years, I feel she’s captured a little piece of my heart. Her photographs convey what I look like when I’m living fully in the moment, when I’ve let go of all my sorrows and worries and there’s pure joy radiating from my soul. This is what Elizabeth creates with all her subjects and what, in addition to her exceptional use of natural light, sets her apart. Elizabeth’s images elicit a visceral response because they are created with love and light. This is the mark of a true artist.
— Foreword excerpt by Ulrica Wihlborg from The Luminous Portrait by Elizabeth Messina and Jacqueline Tobin.
Cover photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Messina ©2012.
To see more of Elizabeth’s work, visit www.kissthegroom.com.