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Downtown Dress-Up: Pop-Up Photo Shoot with Dahli Durley

For as bad a rap as social media gets (and often deservedly so), sometimes it actually serves a positive purpose and fosters connectivity where otherwise you wouldn't find it. Take for instance my recent experience with Wisconsin-based traveling photographer Dahli Durley.

Dahli messaged me via Instagram where I'm most active...I'm on Facebook some and Twitter's just really not my thing. Anyhoo, Dahli mentioned that she was traveling through Asheville, said she liked my style, and wanted to know if I'd like to meet up for a photo shoot while she was in town.

I think we're all conditioned by this era in which we live to be skeptical and fearful, but I liked Dahli's profile, website, and frankly she sounded really cute so I said yes! And I am SO SOOO glad I did!

We met for coffee at High Five on Rankin Ave...and as someone who's wrecked a meeting by showing up to the wrong location, I was impressed Dahli knew to clarify she meant the one by The Vault, not behind Greenlife.

So I walk in and I spot her. My first thought? She has great hair. And for someone whose spirit animal is mermaid hair, I know good hair when I see it.

As great as her hair was, though, the best thing about Dahli is her laugh. Or maybe it's her happy energy that makes you feel so at ease around her, like you've known her forever.

She's also a good listener. So often people enter conversations just to tell you what they have to say instead of showing any real interest in hearing what you may have to contribute. Dahli's not like that. She asked me about my background, about being from Asheville. She shared with me that one reason she found me interesting was how un-Asheville my brand is, especially considering I'm a native. (She also said natives are hard to find 'round these parts.)

I told her that I agree and that I hear that all the time. On the surface, most people think I don't seem very "Asheville-y." But for someone who was born here, and grew up here, I like to think I embrace what Asheville is really about at it's core. And that is to be who you are.

I love fashion. I love getting dressed and putting together a fun outfit even when I know everyone else will be in jeans and a t-shirt. I love fancy wine and expensive shoes one day and beer and yoga pants the next. I don't get political and I don't protest. But I will fight and stand up for what I believe in and the people I love.

And I really like hair.

Dahli wanted to get to know me so that she could capture my spirit correctly. She told me that she rarely likes to photograph anyone she meets five minutes before she uncaps her camera lens. She wants to know who her subjects are, what makes them tick, where they're coming from. In her work, it's the difference between photos coming off as posed or superficial and honest and real.

That's why she contacted me and a handful of other locals during her stay in Asheville. She likes to work with people she meets on her travels to find what connects all of us regardless of who we are or where we live.

There's something about that I find tremendously refreshing. It's almost a relief, really. That someone is seeking out people that stand out as a little different than the rest in their respective home towns, and then bringing it back to what unites us all in the end.

I adored the morning I spent with Dahli. She was incredibly professional, and sought out the most fun locations for our photos. I can't wait to go back and shoot some more stuff in front of these awesome walls and doors!

She's also incredibly personable, and that's what made our time together so cool. Yes, I wanted to get some nice photos out of the experience -- my business is very visually based and I was with a professional after all! But I went home that afternoon feeling lifted and excited and grateful that what I do for a living intersected me with someone I honestly felt privileged to have met.

Thank you, Dahli, for your infectious laugh, your open ears, your talented eye, and your genuine spirit.

We need more Dahli's in the world.

PS -- can you message me your hair care routine? ;D


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