Over the weekend, I had the honor of photographing a beautiful soul named, Tristin. Originally, Tristin was supposed to play the character of Belle from Beauty and the Beast in my fantasy series, but things took a turn for the absolute best and I'm about to tell you why.
It was evident that as we were talking, Tristin was uncomfortable playing her character and wasn't connecting. She felt it too, so she asked if we could switch things up a bit. She took complete control of the shoot and the results were amazing! Tristin opened up to me about her life and I think a lot of women can relate to what she's been through, and still going through.
I asked her why she wanted to use photography as a means to share her story, and she said, "I think photographs are some of the most impactful pieces of work there are in the world. We see things through our minds and what we feel is to be true on a daily basis. Whether we're healthy or ill, we think we know what that looks like to the rest of the world and ourselves. I think capturing pure and raw moments of someone can help not only them personally, but those around them to see them for who they truly are." I think it's ironic that she used the word "raw" because as the photo shoot progressed, she transformed into Tristin, the woman, instead of Tristin the Disney character.
The story of Belle originally captivated Tristin because of the message of acceptance. "The idea of beauty and acceptance really spoke to me. Not only accepting others in the face of fear, but most importantly accepting yourself. Accepting who you are in the deepest parts of your mind, body and soul. I want to show people that even though we put such an emphasis on external beauty, that it is displayed in so many more ways. A laugh, a smile...even tears all make up your beauty. I want to remind people that beauty is so much more than societies superficial standards." How beautiful and amazing is that? I don't even know how to expand on that, she said it so perfectly. We deal with so much pressure from society and ourselves to look a certain way, but we need to go further than skin deep, because that's what truly defines our beauty.
I asked Tristin why having photos in this particular moment in her life so important and she said, "2016 has been by far one of the most difficult years of my life. I've had to start over in many categories. I've lost someone who I deeply love (both physically and metaphorically), I've had to uproot my entire world and start fresh. I've finally gained some answers to my medical anomalies, but am still battling my body daily. I'm going through what I consider to be some of the most important changes in my life. I feel like I'm meeting myself for the first time and this will give me yet another perspective to look over and
ponder." Has anyone else ever felt that way? As if you're meeting yourself for the very first time? That's so powerful, and exciting. When you give yourself the chance to start fresh, you let go of all the the things that aren't really you, and allow yourself to become who you were meant to be in the first place. That takes some serious guts.
Throughout Tristin'a album, you'll notice the transitions and I'd like to explain them.
The Mask: The mask is a symbol of hiding, and being ashamed of who we really are.
The Dead Rose: The dead rose symbolizes the pain we feel inside from all of the hiding, and not allowing ourselves to be who we really are.
The Casual Photos: You'll notice there are a few sexy, casual photos in the bunch, and that's because Tristin spoke up and told me something that she wanted to do! As someone who also deals with constant health issues, it's tough to feel sexy and comfortable in your own skin when you feel like crap on the inside. She rocked it!
The Live Rose: New life, a rebirth!
All Natural: Tristin told me that a few years ago, you wouldn't catch her without make up on. While we were shooting, she asked if she could get in the water and remove all of her makeup - as if she were washing clean (literally!) of all the negativity and struggles that once consumed her.
It was evident that Tristin felt more comfortable in the river without any makeup on, than she did while wearing the mask. That speaks volumes! "I'm hoping to learn to love myself a little deeper. I'm hoping to share with the world that medical frustrations don't have to destroy your version of beautiful. That even when you have days where you feel as though you can't do it anymore, the beauty that's inside of you...your soul and intentions has so much more power over any amount of external beauty. I want to show people that being genuine is beautiful." And she most certainly has.
I hope this young woman inspires you to love yourself unconditionally, because you are worthy. Tristin, thank you SO much for sharing a piece of your soul with me and anyone who reads this. You are radiant, and I thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this day.
View Tristin's photos here!