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  • Johanna Siegmann

The Tea Ceremony

Updated: Oct 28, 2019



This image was literally years in the making. You see, Grace and I have been friends for many years. She is absolutely beautiful, but HATES having her picture taken. I have wanted to create this image with her for years now, but it never seemed to be the right time.


Not very long ago, she sadly lost her mother, and part of the pain and mourning process was to have to empty her house and find homes for everything in it. I had just been through the same painful ordeal with my mother just over a year earlier, so I understood very well what she was going through.


She mentioned all the exquisite kimonos her mother had, and I knew that this was the time to do this image. In a way, it is a tribute to her mother, who in many was was a very traditional Japanese lady, even while Grace is very non-traditional. So one day, while they were still cleaning out the house, Grace invited me over, and we looked at all the amazing kimonos and accessories that her mother had stored. They were perfectly folded and stored in special paper, and tied with twine. They were so beautiful they made me cry.


Even with the kimonos selected, it took several months for me to find all the elements for this shot. I wanted the right teapot. The right cup. The right tatami. And of course, I needed the right hair and make-up artist.


I was exceedingly fortunate to connect with Yuki Nakamura, who on top of being an exceptional MUA, is also the sweetest, most professional lady. She created this amazing traditional hair style, and also knew how to assemble the kimono. But that's a whole other story...


Eddie wasn't sure quite what to make of all the fuss, and kept showing me his business end. It took a lot of coaxing, and a lot of bribing with little bits of treats for him to venture to the left side of the image, where the lights were set up for him. I had originally thought he should be drinking out of the cup while she poured, but Eddie knew best, and he sat there perfectly, waiting to be served. As the scene unfolded just as I had envisioned, I felt like I was watching a movie. I am indeed blessed to be able to manifest these images in my head. It often feels like a miracle.


The shoot lasted 3 1/2 hours - 3 hours and 15 minutes to get the set and Grace ready, and 15 minutes for me to actually take pictures. Then Grace tore off all the traditional Japanese trappings and ran out the door to teach a yoga class.

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© 2019 Johanna Siegmann