One of the very best perks of going to photography conferences and workshops are the friendships that have been made along the way. I am fortunate to have surrounded myself with a group of very talented photographers who have become like sisters to me. Not only have we developed a wonderful friendship, but a support system. We can talk shop, share ideas, offer encouragement as well as hold each other accountable in matters of both business and creativity. As photographers and artists, we are always looking for projects that will fuel our creativity. Enter... the Traveling Dresses!
Initially, the idea behind this project was to take one dress and pass it around between several of us. Each one of us would photograph the dress and blog about the session. We then expanded the idea and decided that each one of the six photographers participating would choose our own dress. Those six dresses will be rotated between us over the next six months, giving each of us a new monthly creative project.
I photographed my dress this past week before shipping it to my friend Lori for month 1 of our traveling dress project. While I would like to tell you about the dress, what I really want to talk about is my model Hannah.
I recently put out a model call on my Instagram page. I was overwhelmed with the number of responses that I received! My first, immediate need, was for a model for my traveling dress. I knew I wanted someone to match the look of my dress so as applications poured in, I started looking through the Instagram accounts of those who had answered my call. When I landed on Hannah's page, one of the things that caught my eye was a before/after photo that she had posted. Reading her post, I knew that Hannah had been struggling with her weight, decided to make some changes, and had made an impressive transformation. I wanted to know this young lady's story. The fact that she had the perfect look for my dress was a bonus!
I contacted Hannah and she agreed to meet me last week for a photo session. She also agreed to allow me to tell her story. Hannah started by telling me that she had been chubby all her life and at the age of 18 was diagnosed with PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a harrowing disease with a long list of struggles and symptoms, which can include weight gain as well as the inability to loose weight. Another symptom of PCOS is depression and fatigue and Hannah was dealing with both. This past January, three years after her diagnosis, Hannah decided that she was tired of feeling depressed and insecure about how she looked and that she was ready to take her health into her own hands.
The first decision that Hannah made was to change her mindset. She knew from the beginning that the key to success started with her thought process. Beginning New Years Day, Hannah began a daily routine of exercise. She either runs at least 1 mile per day or does 45 minutes of stairs. She also began lifting weights knowing that strength training would tone her body. In addition to her exercise routine, Hannah changed her eating patterns. She traded in processed junk food, bread, dairy and sugar for healthy whole foods. Not only did she start seeing results, but she was mentally happy. She stopped tearing herself down and began to gain a confidence that allowed her to step outside her box and fill out a model application! While numbers on the scale are insignificant, Hannah's hard work and descipline have resulted in a 50lb weight loss since January 1st.
While I think Hannah looks amazing and was the perfect model for this boho styled ensemble, she still has fitness goals that she is working towards. Hannah is an inspiration not only to me, but hopefully to other young ladies who may have similar struggles. Having family members who suffer with PCOS, Hashimotos, and Hypothyroidism, I've seen first hand the damage these type of diseases can do to both the body and the mind. If you have weight issues that "don't make sense", I urge you to seek help from a medical professional. You may have some underlying issues that need to be diagnosed and treated. Hannah's decision to make lifestyle changes wasn't just about her desire to lose weight... it was more about her desire to be mentally and physically healthy.
Hannah my dear, I am inspired by your descipline and dedication to being healthy and fit! You are gorgeous and I can not wait to work with you again!