This is a story of a wonderful joyous soul, and struggling with loosing them.
I met Aubry behind the desk at CorePower Yoga’s South Boulder studio. Her energy and zing shined through from the first moment. One day around the desk in the fall of 2009, the conversation turned to a group shooting in my studio, and she eagerly volunteered to join in. The day before I sent out a prep email, and without knowing that her adopted middle name was “Glitter”, I proposed “sparkles” as the theme. Her response was predictable: “Sparkles! What a great idea ;0) Don’t worry, I’m the glitter queen, and I have many sparkly things!!”
No s**t she had many sparkly things! She showed up with multiple duffel bags and boxes. Wigs, a disco mirror ball, glitter, clothes, hula hoop, you name it. She completely energized the whole group. It was a great shoot. Some of the images have become real favorites in my portfolio.
Incredibly sadly, Aubry went missing 6 months later, in April 2010, while on a solo trek through Nepal. Her family put immense amounts of energy into the search, refusing to give up. In August of 2010, Joy Shanley organized a donation class at the North Boulder studio of CorePower Yoga to raise money for the family to continue their efforts. While the public message was don’t give up hope, for me it was also a moment to grieve. After 5 months, the outlook was grim.
More than anything else, it was a celebration of Aubry. The connections she’d made, the energy she displayed, the ‘glitter’ she spread through life. Connected by the yoga that we had all found together, the desire to practice together to observe, experience, mourn and hope.
It felt holy and special from the start. The room was packed – as full as I’ve ever seen it. Photos and memorabilia covered the walls, including Aubry’s disco ball. So many of the people there were good friends of mine in the Boulder yoga scene. Such a special thing to create such a community energy and focus, even for something as sad as this.
It’s always a delicate thing for me when I shoot a class. A yoga practice feels like a sacred space to me and I hesitate to intrude with a camera. I always think it sounds like a cannon shot going off when I release the shutter. And yet it presents photos like no other environment – people completely in their practice, amidst others in the same space, with aesthetics and light and feeling. I don’t get to shoot a class very often and it’s always very special.
I hesitated quite a bit about bringing up shooting the class with Joy. I knew she would say yes, but I wondered how I would feel intruding on such a sacred practice. In the end, taking photographs is what I do, and how I wanted to participate in Aubry’s class. This image of Yoshi, in particular, is one of my all time favorites.
Bless you Aubry.
Here is a gallery of images from that day.