Esperanza Spalding

photographed by Andy Batt - October 2018

This is project that took a few years of scheduling and relationship building—but in October I was finally able to get Esperanza into the studio for an incredible portrait session. She'd been touring for a new album, but was going to be in Portland to visit friends and to be part of a gala night for Bienestar, an amazing non-profit that creates housing and opportunity for Portland's latino community. The event was "An Evening of Esperanza", with a performance & silent auction. I was asked to create 2 portraits of Esperanza, one to be auctioned and one to be printed and placed in the "goodie bag" the VIP ticket holders would get.

Esperanza's back catalog is an incredibly diverse range of her music. I listened as I did a bunch of creative sessions, using mind-mapping techniques, sketching and allowing my mind to wander. I began to have a glimpse of an idea—I wasn't sure what it was exactly, or where it would lead, but I decided to follow it.

And because I'm me, I also wanted to create a classic B&W seated portrait, beautifully and simply lit. Something similar to the way I photographed Senator Jeff Merkley.

I also managed to squeak in an opportunity to create some deeply weird video!

It was a great session—Esperanza gave me a generous amount of time, and enjoyed the experience; she's a wonderful collaborator. I look forward to our next project together.

-andy batt

A shout out to Pro Photo Supply - who generously sponsored the printing of the framed auction print and the gift bag portraits! Get your printing (and cameras and media and lights and all the good stuff) at PPS!