"I want something different," Michelle told me. "Excellent!" I said. "I've already photographed you once before so you're a pro at how all this goes. Let's get creative this time around." "I want to be photographed raw and real. It doesn't have to be pretty. I just want something this is emotional and represents this time in my life. I've gone through so much and I want to create that feeling." I've been friends with Michelle since I photographed her last year. She was wonderful and kind then and even more so now. It's easy to connect with Michelle. Her soul is one of openness and understanding. Michelle listens. She's compassionate. So when she said she wanted something different, something I hadn't really done before I jumped at the chance. These stories that pictures create, the emotions they bring, the reality they convey, and the story they tell are everything. Sometimes our lives are not pretty. Often times they are messy and chaotic. Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of a churning sea with only a thin bit of wood and a torn sail to cling onto. How many times have you wished for a storm to pass? For the light and warmth of a new day to shine? . . . to just feel ok again?
The trails of life beat against us and it can feel as though it will never end. We can be left asking, "what was the point? Why this? Why me? Why now!"
I don't know the answer to these questions. They are deeply personal and often as different as the people who experience them. But I do know if you can endure, if you can keep the faith, if you can hold on, if you can just stick through it, then you'll leave that stormy sea a different person . . . stronger, braver.
That's Michelle. A woman who has constantly, repeatedly battled the stormy seas of life, and held on. She's persevered through the tears and disappointments and losses. She's held her head high as the storm beat around her and she survived.
She thrived. She grew. She became and that lead us to see something we hadn't seen before . . . that dark and difficult parts of Michelle's story are just as beautiful as everything else.
It's in those stormy seasons that she's seen who she really is . . .
capable, and unquestionably, beautiful.
So if you find yourself looking at your life and you have a desire to see the raw, beautiful reality even though it might not be traditionally pretty or even 'a little different', you're invited here. I can show you that no matter how different your story may seem, it is beautiful because it is YOURS.
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. #OUR #SaveOurChildren