I am spilling over with joy to post this today!
Last week, I made my first visit to the safe house for Restore NYC, where women who are rescued from sex trafficking rebuild their lives.
I started my partnership with Love Gives Way and Restore NYC this year, as a way to invite my clients to have their wedding day be a part of something so much bigger. Their love can now spill over onto the lives of these women who are rebuilding their lives and learning to trust again.
Restore asked me to capture portraits of a few of their women, which will be showcased in their annual gala this May! I knew it would be challenging to capture portraits in a way that concealed their identity, but I was overjoyed to have this opportunity.
In February, I worked at an event for Reveal NYC, where I photographed portraits of women from shelters throughout the city, who were treated to a day of makeovers to reveal their beauty (more on that soon!) So, when I visited Restore’s safe house, I was reunited with several women I had photographed before!
I wasn’t prepared for how quickly these women would take to me.
A few of them had said they didn’t feel comfortable being photographed. When they saw how much fun I was having with my first model, one of them stepped forward and said “I want to do this now.” That just melted my heart!
Several women I captured had modeled before, and they loved being in front of the camera and the object of my attention. We captured a lot of silhouette type shots, or shots with objects that were important to them. We then walked to a nearby park, and on the way we were able to chat, they asked me about my work, and we laughed (a lot). When we got to the park, I captured some model type shots just for them. I loved how they smiled at me, how much they loved being photographed! It was cold, so we stopped for some more shots after sunset, and headed back. I stayed for dinner with them, and I really felt at home! I can’t describe how I felt being there, except that it felt so right, and so fulfilling.
When I processed their images, I struggled for a little while with the fact that what I really saw in these women was their joy, which they shared with me so effortlessly; and their hope. Is it right, I thought, to keep these women in the shadows, when the shadows is the very thing that they are trying to emerge from?
Then I had a photographer “a-ha” moment: I realized that the shadows do not diminish the light, nor the light diminish the shadows. It is all one story; and that is true for all of us. We are all made of light and shadows; that is a completely human experience. We can heal from our shadows only when we bring them to the light.
And these women are emerging into the light; they have so much potential; and my time with them filled me with so much hope. I already can’t wait to see them again.
I am excited to reveal more photographs from my visit at Restore’s Gala this year; and don’t want to spoil them. But here are just a few!!