Returning from the snowy Rockies, I barely had time to unpack my luggage before setting out on another shoot, continuing PiP's winter-themed portraits of political women with a penchant for the colder climate. Vermont, my adopted home state, has been blanketed in white since late November and this February was the second coldest on record. But that didn't stop Representative Rebecca Ellis from keeping our appointment on the frozen shores of Lake Champlain. I met Rebecca only several weeks ago at an event for Emerge Vermont, an organization committed to achieving gender parity in this state's government. She enthusiastically agreed to pose for me and I'm so glad she did––we had a wonderful day and the photographs came out great.
The location was Lone Rock Point, not far from where Rebecca grew up. She chose this setting because of its beauty and association with her past, but also because it tells a story about global warming and climate change. When Rebecca was growing up, it was commonplace for the lake to freeze over. Now, sadly, it is the exceptional year when she is able to enjoy snowshoeing along its shores. In her political life, she is a passionate advocate for environmental issues, promoting policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as legislation that helps Vermonters adapt to an uncertain climate. Being passionate about nature and the environment myself, I respect and admire Rebecca for all her hard work in this very sensitive area.
Native Vermonters are known for their resilience and resourcefulness, which might explain why Rebecca's mother, Nancy (age 81), acted as my photo assistant! Yes, that's her, carrying my ladder. I was amazed how mother and daughter barely seemed to notice the cold on this extremely frigid morning, chatting and full of lighthearted spirit as they walked along. As I began to photograph, my fingers would freeze in a matter of minutes and I would have to warm them in my gloves before continuing with the shoot. I felt like I was on a National Geographic assignment! Ok, it wasn't like tracking the snow leopard in the Himalayas, but it was pretty darn cold.
The longer I live in Vermont, the more I grow into its unique and precious landscape, cherishing the values that are so deep-rooted here––the respect for nature, the respect for small-scale enterprise and sustainability, a love of community and an inborn desire to lend a helping hand to your neighbor. And I'm grateful to know that Representative Ellis is working to preserve all these things through her tireless efforts in the Vermont legislature.