Rebecca - Senior Photos {Operation Healing Hoover}

Rebecca - Senior Photos {Operation Healing Hoover}

Last year I saw a post on Facebook written by my sorority sister and fellow photographer Sara Case. She was asking if anyone would be willing to donate sessions to a new project for seniors who had been devastated by the floods in WV earlier that year.

Well being from West Virginia, and loving philanthropy, I immediately reached out to photographer Kelly Broyles, the project founder and organizer. Although I live several hours away now, I will never turn down a chance to help those in my home state, and to photograph amazing people.

The time finally came for me to meet and photograph my senior. My family and I were on our way to South Carolina so that I could attend the Fearless Photographer Conference, so it worked for us to shoot on the way down. Well the best laid plans... My computer crashed the night before we were to leave, I had to shoot several mini sessions before we could leave, and once we had been on the road for a few hours our oldest daughter threw up all over the car. 3 separate times that night. And again the next day. Things were going great.

We finally arrived at her home late afternoon, and the first thing I noticed was someone crawling underneath the house and big machines sitting around. I asked her mom if there was any way my family could stay there during our shoot, but they were in the middle of replacing all the ductwork so she apologized that it wouldn't be safe for them.

After I quickly helped her choose a couple outfits, we walked outside to the sound of one of the machines. It was sucking water out from under the house. After months and months had gone by, they were still removing water from their home. It really hit me then how difficult this must have been for them.

But we're losing light, so we get on the road. We drive a short distance to a place called Coonskin Park. Once we arrive, we began shooting right away so there wasn't much time to talk. But I still could see what an amazing girl this was.

She was beautiful - long waves of golden hair, crystal blue eyes, adorable smile, and a tiny dimple in her chin. Man was I lucky to have been the one assigned to her.

But there was so much more. Her posture, her grace, her ease. The way she took direction and easily transitioned from location to location. It was obvious she had gone through an ordeal, and also become accustomed to change.

The biggest part for me, however, was the intensity in her eyes - most young adults don't have eyes like that. I know what it's like to have eyes like that because I've been through my share of ordeals. But that's a story for another day...

So we finish the shoot. I'm really happy with what we got. I talk to them briefly, say goodbye, and we go on to the conference. (Where we all took turns being sick by the way.)

Then came time to edit the photographs.

For those of you who know me and my work, you know that I normally incorporate a lot of light play, shadows, darkness, some fun and outrageousness, and very little posing.

But as I sat at the computer, nothing I did worked.

The colors were wrong, the light wasn't subtle, the darkness just wouldn't take over like I normally let it.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I swear the light in these photos just wouldn't be suppressed - it begged me for something different.

Something more.

It begged for me to reach farther outside of my comfort zone than I ever had before, and showcase this girl's beauty, peace, and strength in a way that showed them how they deserved.

So I flipped my style, everything I knew, on its head.

This incredible girl lost her school before her senior year, lost parts of her home, is STILL working on getting life back to normal, and yet from it all she is thankful for all the work she had to put in because it made her closer to her family, especially her brothers, and turned her into the person she is today. An amazing young woman who is about to graduate and move on to the next phase in her life.

So for probably the first time ever, I followed the light (instead of the dark) throughout the whole set.

And this is what happened.

<3 K

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