Walking into Pinxit, the South City St. Louis lifestyle, wedding and portrait photography studio of Raquita Henderson, one might first be enveloped by the scent. Whether she is burning oil, candles or incense, a visitor’s olfactory system will be delighted, their senses tingling almost immediately. “I like to depend on all of my general senses to set the tone,” Raquita shared. “The way we light the space, the colors and the smell when you come in all reflect that.”
Glancing around, it’s easy to see that Raquita not only creates her art here, she lives here. At least, that’s what people think when they visit. One area, dubbed “the living room” by both clients and her children, features a large, textured beige couch and an adjacent coffee table. A chalkboard wall welcomes guests, and her photography and other sources of inspiration and beauty fill the open, comfortable space. An exposed brick wall sets the backdrop for a showcase of products mixed in with items she loves.
In reality, Raquita lives a few blocks away, but her studio is her home away from home, a sacred place. It’s the place where she feels most comfortable and free in herself to try new things and be creative, regardless of whether or not she succeeds or fails in that effort. “My goal is for people to feel comfortable and safe letting me be creative and in being a partner in creativity with me,” Raquita said, adding that by making it homey, people feel welcome.
While her studio sets the scene, it doesn’t necessarily propagate creativity. Raquita draws her inspiration from connecting with her subject, whether it’s in street photography, painting, writing or through poetry, she feeds off the colors and textures. “Photography is a medium for me to express my connection with people and people to each other,” she explained. “As much as I love photography, until recently I would not have said it was my creative space at all.” She focuses on creativity in all aspects of her life, whether its crafting or creating experiences for her children to help them gain life experiences that connect them less to “things” and more to experiences. Lately, she has been reconnecting creativity to photography through night work and street photography, though in her mind, she admits she’s still always thinking about what would make a nice backdrop for a couple, wedding, or child’s photos.
It’s unavoidable for the self-dubbed low-key social justice warrior, wife, mom, sister, daughter and aspiring nice human, to mix photography with all aspects of her life, though, because she loves her job. Having shot upward of 300 weddings, Raquita most loves capturing genuine emotional connection. She lets her subjects guide how the session goes in how she coaches them. “I’m an artist, not an asshole,” Raquita quipped. “My job is to make art out of who you are. My goal is to make you comfortable enough to be yourself, and I will turn that into art.”
Because Raquita’s space is a reflection of who she is, she is able to draw that sincerity from others. “When you’re designing a space to create art, be completely open and honest with yourself about what works for you as an individual,” she advised. “When I first opened my studio, I was so caught up in representing my brand and brand colors that it felt fake walking into it. I felt like I was putting on a persona and I felt like clients could feel that when they came into the space. I only felt authentic when I embraced things that are really important to me.” Well that... and exposed brick and rock always help set the tone for any space, Raquita concluded.