Meet Lavender and her Mom, Sarah Marie. I met Sarah several years ago as a young model. She became pregnant in a situation which subsequently found her a young single mom. She found out during pregnancy that her baby was diagnosed with a neural tube defect - essentially where the brain developed outside of the brain in a sac. We had planned on shooting her pregnancy photos and that day, she called me explained she had to run to the hospital - something was wrong.
Lavender was born at 34 weeks 5 days. She had immediate brain surgery on her first day of life to repair her Encephalocele. This was followed by two surgeries to fix the cyst inside her head - followed by several more surgeries - 3 on the right side of her head for a shunt and 2 on the left side for the same. She also has had Trach surgery, G Tube surgery and has had several PIC lines.
I reached out to Sarah a while ago and said I wanted to shoot them - but it wasn't until April that I got that opportunity. It was a humbling experience and frankly, one of my favorite shoots this year. But the story doesn't end there.
As many people know, in June 2019, Dayton was destavasted by 8 tornadoes in a few hours. On a hunch, the next day, I reached out to Sarah - she reported her neighborhood was beyond a mess - and she was panicked because of course Lavender had to remain on life support 24/7 - because her neural pathway for normal breathing was defective, so she was on a ventilator. Sarah took Lavender to the hospital - and then proceeded to reach out to her community and help them - water, food, clothing, etc. Despite everything in this story, to the fact she has to support her child full time, she still chose to reach out to others. I really don't know a stronger story for choosing how to live - despite all circumstances.
Of all the types of photography I capture, this is my favorite - capturing the core base of human passion and endeavors - I thank Sarah and Lavender for sharing their journey with me. It was an honor to photograph their love for each other. Consider me humbled . . .