These are sessions I wish I could say I was never hired for. I wish there was no such thing as cancer. I wish these women never sat in a room and heard those words land so heavily on their hearts. But I am so unbelievably grateful these women continue to seek me out to tell their stories. I can’t express the magnitude, and gratitude of that responsibility. As a documentary photographer, I’m witness to some of the happiest and hardest times in a person’s life. Because of that I’m blessed to be reminded over and over again that there is just as much beauty in the struggles of our lives, it’s always there in the love and humanity of it all. It’s there in the tears and the mess. It’s there in the hugs and the prayers.
Mandy reached out to me after seeing a similar video I did for a fellow cancer butt kicker, Zarina. Mandy was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, and endured 16 rounds of chemo. I was asked to be there for her last. Usually I would take that for what it is, I’m asked to do a job, I show up. But this was different. The pandemic raging on meant Mandy was only allowed one guest to accompany her on her last round. I know her husband and family had been by her side for all of the others, but the magnitude of this ask, and the honor of sharing that space and that memory with a woman I’d only had a phone chat with was humbling to say the least. Her gracious husband and family, who was by her side through all 16 rounds, allowed me to step in and document this for her. We were basically strangers just days before, but spending these hours with her made me feel like I’ve known her my whole life. Meeting her, hearing the trials of this year and her testimony… her unwavering faith, has made an indelible imprint on me. The people and their amazing stories this job has brought into my life leave me forever grateful and blessed. Join me in celebrating Mandy and praying for her continued success as she’s now in the early stages of completing 30 rounds of radiation. No doubt she’s going to rock it with the same level of grace, grit, and faith.
Mandy, your testimony and tangible faith continues to inspire me. Thank you for inviting me into your life for this, I’m forever grateful.
If you follow my work you may have seen this little darling’s baby brother’s birth story a few months ago. Well, now it’s her turn for her birth story of sorts. I was asked along to document the day she forever became a Hollifield. The day she was adopted out of the foster care system and legally born into this family. A birth story as important as any I’ve ever told.
The hustle and bustle, coupled with anxiety and excitement filled their home that morning. While at times frantic, I was blown away at the well oiled machine that was their household. Each person had a job to do, and lent helping hands where needed. To me this is a testament to the quality parenting Stephanie and AJ are providing these precious kiddos.
You see, they don’t just talk about doing things to make the world a better place. They don’t just talk about making other people’s lives better. They actually live out loud, loving each other like Christ asks. They live it. They live His love daily in the way they love each other, and they live it by being shining examples of giving these adopted babes a life far better than the one they were born into.
Haley, you were blissfully unaware of the anxiety, worry, and fears that enveloped your mom and dad leading up to this moment. And rightfully so. You played with the microphone, and bounced on your daddy’s knee. One day, soon, you will understand the love that surrounds you, not just by your family, but by all who are blessed to know your story!
Just before Christmas I was asked to film and photograph a progressive family dinner. Admittedly I did not know what that was. But as soon as Jenny told me, I knew it was going to be a blast to document. And it was, but whew, it was also a challenge. 4 houses, 4 meals, in 4 hours. Did I mention there were 23 people, from one of the most amazingly blended, adoptive families I’ve ever met. Anytime I get to hang out with this crew is an honor. I’m so thankful they asked me along to document and share in this special time so close to Christmas.
As I embrace this break from birth, I’m going to be spending more time with my family. And that means, ready or not, you will be inundated with our personal photos and lives. And my hope its to delve deeper into family photojournalism sessions for new and existing clients.
Enjoy this short clip of Superman, I mean Alden, getting his hair cut by the talented and beautiful Chalet, of 501 Salon Experience in Uptown Columbus. We love you Chalet, thanks for doing his wild curls justice!