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  • Writer's picturemelindafox

Beautiful Jacquel

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

It’s incredibly difficult to explain art.

Even when I create something, I usually don’t know what it is or why it is until it’s done. Then I step back and it clicks. I can see what this means. I understand the light and shadow, the texture, and the angle. It all means something to me and suddenly it seems incredibly obvious.

Then I show it to someone else, expecting them to see what I see, but they usually don’t. It’s something completely different and uniquely personal.

beautiful African American woman wearing gold crown photographed in Athens PA; portrait of domestic abuse survivor

Explaining art is hard.

But it’s nothing compared to explaining Jacquel.

What words could I possibly use?

What descriptors, metaphors, or adjectives could possibly convey the painful, seemingly unending, tragedy that my friend lived?

portrait of beautiful African American woman holding skull being photographed in Sayre pa; Photographer in Sayre PA;

Jacquel told me that when things were at a particularly bad point, she thought there might be a light at the end of the tunnel but she wouldn’t live to see it.

This isn’t to be dramatic. It’s not to make you feel sad because look at her, look at this work we created. This isn’t sad.

This isn’t a woman who’s given up or chosen to stay a victim to the malicious evils of her past.

This isn’t a broken woman whose abuse permanently stole her purpose and joy.

But it could have.

It should have.

But it didn’t. And that is beautifully obvious.

So maybe it’s not necessary for you to know all the gruesome, gut-twisting, embarrassing details. Perhaps it’s enough for you to know that Jacquel faced years of tragic abuse as a child, a teenager, and an adult.

But you need to know that she fought. She fought dirty and bloody because when you’re broken and holding onto a sliver of life, a thread of hope, you become hard and vicious.

beautiful portrait of black woman with long hair and closed eyes holding a skull being photographed in Waverly NY; African American survivor of domestic abuse

Jacquel became strong as she fought and that gave her purpose and drive. That hate and anger built up a fire in her that drove her forward to successful jobs, prestigious interactions, and monetary success.

Her fight, her rage, the hard grit of who she was made her powerful.

beautiful African American woman holding a sword while being photographed in Towanda PA; female survivor of domestic abuse;

But you also need to know that it made her tired. The hate and anger, the darkness of it all was suffocating her.

And she got tired of having to fight.

She got tired of being alone with people.

She got tired of only feeling rage and pain.

She got tired of continued abuse, neglect, and resentment.


So she left.

She packed up her babies, said goodbye to the outwardly successful life she built, and with the help and guidance of miraculous earthly angels, she left.

beautiful woman being photographed while touching a butterfly in a tulle skirt; photographers in Athens PA;

And after only a few short years of constant, loving work she is here.

She’s changed.

She is more than what she was.

She’s becoming.

Her story is unfolding and as Jacquel said, “it’s only getting prettier.”


And that is what you are invited to see.

A woman of divinity and light. A woman of powerful softness and unending grace. A queen, a child of a Heavenly King.

We hope you see a woman who lovingly let go of her past self. A woman who holds gratitude for the strong, rough woman she was. But she’s now able to bury that difficult part of herself, that part of her that can’t come into her new life of healing and wholeness.

beautiful black woman being photographed in elmira NY;

We hope you see a woman who fought with valiant courage and unstoppable fortitude even when she was beyond exhausted. We hope that when you see this saber pointed to the ground you don’t see surrender and a battle lost. But rather a letting go because the fight is over . . . and she won.

We hope you see a peaceful victory.

Finally, we hope you see trust where once that was impossible. We hope you see love and caring for the parts of all of us that were delicate and hurt. We hope you see growth and light. We hope you see magic and divine grace in the face of darkness.

black woman praying while being photographed in Athens PA; survivor of child abuse;

Mostly, I hope you see that there are happy endings. That even when life is painful and unfair. When things seem broken beyond fixing and all the unjustness of a lifetime is placed on your delicate shoulders that you, like Jacquel, can keep going.

There is help and goodness ahead.

Light always conquers darkness.

And who we really are will always shine through.


Jacquel, thank you for telling me your story. You have changed me for the better and I am forever thankful for you.


Hair and makeup thanks to Shea Hollister. Photos taken in my private home studio in Athens PA.



Love, Melinda


P.S. Are you interested in an incredible photoshoot experience all your own with Melinda and Shea? Whether it be a birthday photoshoot, mother and daughter pictures, headshots and branding, or contemporary portraits and boudoir we will create something show-stopping that celebrates you!



Private Photography Studio in Athens PA.























If you have tips or concerns about human trafficking happening in your area call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.










Fox Photography by Melinda Fox, Photographers in Athens PA, Photographers in Sayre PA, Photographers in Waverly NY, Photographers in Elmira NY, Photographers in Towanda PA, Photographers in Corning NY, Photographers in Ithaca NY, Photographers in Twin Tiers Area. Fox Photography by Melinda Fox







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