Tuesday, November 12, 2013

iPicture HOPE with Debbie LeAnne and Brenda Van

Debbie LeAnne Photography
There comes a time in life when you want something. And as usually happens in the grand scheme of things, what you want is trumped by what you need at the time. 

What I wanted was a family photo before I looked sick. Before the hair falls out. Before I look like a period in our lives that was tough but we got through. Before the temporary pain, I wanted a more tangible memory of the way it was. The way to look forward to again.

But there were too many appointments. There were biopsies. Treatment plans to be made.  In the back of my mind, we've never had a professional family photo. It wasn't going to happen, something had to give. 

I have been lucky in love. I have been gifted with amazing friends. I hold fast to the view that things generally work out, you just have to hang in there.  

Then my friend Sharon messaged me. Their family photographer and friend gives a free photo session to a woman with breast cancer in the Month of October and she hoped I didn't mind, but I was on her mind and she forwarded my blog to Debbie LeAnne, who absolutely wanted to photograph me. I must have read that wrong...yet before I knew it I had arranged a date to go over ideas. Debbie and I chatted, I learned about her amazing work and concept- she captures real moments. I like that. That's what I am about. The photo session would be part of a program called iPicture HOPE, started by a photographer named Camille Denae when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It is a way for photographers to use their work to not only help women who are ravaged by disease feel beautiful, but a way to capture the strength behind the women while raising awareness for Breast Cancer.

As I started to stress about outfits and wrangling kids, Debbie put me at ease. She assured me- hair and make up would be taken care of and would it be ok if another photographer captured video of a day in the life of the mayhem that is the Mallory's.  The only thing more terrifying to me than being in front of a camera is being in front of one that captures video. Yet as I sat with Debbie, I genuinely liked her, I trusted her and knew before me was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It's funny how cancer changes your perspective.  

I barely had time to stress about details when the morning of the shoot rolled around. Scone Sunday has been a tradition for years and Brenda Van showed up early to capture it. What is not on film would be me and Phil shoving months worth of crap around the house into baskets and tucking it in Phillip's room right before we welcomed her into our home. Usually I would throw it in our room- but there was no time.  Like Debbie, Brenda is someone I would choose to be friends with. Talented, beautiful, and very much real. I marveled at the forces at work that brought these women into my life and felt immensely grateful.  We prepared scones, played games, read books and captured memories. Not a bit the screaming photo shoots I envisioned- trying to get everyone to smile and look natural while feeling completely fish out of water.  It was like a friend(with a very very large lens) was hanging out with us.  We ended the morning sequestered upstairs, while I read letters to the kids. Pretty glad I chose Phillips room for the baskets O crap.  I knew this was going to be the toughest part. Collecting the thoughts, putting them on paper and then having to read them. We teared up together, although Brenda might just have been mortified at the clutter surrounding her.

Later that day, Debbie and Sheena E arrived to begin the transformation.  As Sheena plugged in multiple irons, and laid out various palattes of shelac, I knew I was in good hands. Hands I found out that were personally requested to travel with Mrs. Hawaii to the Mrs. America pageant.  I would have to say Mrs. Hawaii probably presented a lot less of a challenge than what sat before Miss Sheena E- but she had lots of magic in her little black bag combined with a whole lot of skill. That and she skillfully navigated child after child who presented themselves with weird requests- just to get closer to the action.  So when she asked how I felt about eyelashes- I said I generally like them and promptly looked to Debbie who said- go for it. Mind you my professional make up experience has included one trip to a make up counter at a department store for a friend's wedding.  I was not disappointed. Although I will never be the type to spend an hour plus or minus another hour a day perfecting the look she created- it was a lot of fun to have the experience and to get to be flawless even if for a little while. 
Debbie LeAnne Photography

We packed into the van and headed to Koolina. One of our favorite spots. A spot dear to out hearts. A spot where we've had romantic walks, anniversaries, birthdays, staycations. The place we detoured to the night before my mastectomy so we could watch the sunset together one last time while I was whole.  So it had to be Koolina. 

Debbie LeAnne Photography
We grabbed some family shots and some candids then ventured out to the rocks.  The ladies called the kids away and we posed.  There we were, on our own little rock island watching the sunset and we giggled and forgot there was anyone else there. And we danced. Because sometimes when you are with your one true love, all else falls away if only for a moment. In that moment is a beautiful memory and the goddesses of film so expertly captured it. And the entire shoot felt like a trip to the beach- it was natural, it was fun and it was delightfully chaotic- which is us. And the only thing more valuable than the perfect family picture are the pictures that capture a family perfectly. Debbie LeAnne and Brenda Van gave us more than I could ever have imagined and for them I will always be grateful. Below are their inspiring finished products. 

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)