Grabbing Your Problem With Both Hands

A few days ago I made senior pictures for Tess, and during that session she confided in me that she suffered from a disorder called Trichotillomania, or TTM. Because of that she sometimes had an uncontrollable urge to pull her hair out. She also told me she had found a way conquer it.

When she told me what that was, I advised her that if she desired to show that publicly, I’d be glad to help her. What follows is some images made today – one day after she told Trichotillomania that it was not going to be in control of her any more…

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Much love to Tess for deciding to not only tackle Trichotillomania head on (no pun intended) but also for allowing me to share it publicly here, proving that through strength and a world of other things most of us know nothing about, even without hair, a woman can still be a beautiful Work of Art.

The Sculpture in Dance

Grace visited my studio a couple of Sundays ago, and I asked her to be en pointe – which apparently was something she hadn’t done in about 4 years. It was clear from the moment she entered the studio that her talent is a force to be reckoned with. Some of the images that follow are pure dance technique (as approved by Grace) and some are just captures of her being a – work of art.


The Mood of the Images

I always try to see what kind of mood I can get the images to portray, and sometimes it happens by accident. This time I got two.

This one seems to have a big of angst in it, as if she’s trying to tear away what’s holding her back.


And this one is just full of peace…


Scarred, Stretched, and Jiggling


The model’s own words, “You’d be hard pressed to find even an inch of my body that isn’t scarred, stretched, or jiggling. But I AM BEAUTIFUL and no one can convince me otherwise. My body is all mine and it’s been through the wringer and now it’s more a work of art than its ever been.”

No Mud, No Lotus


I’ve had a lot of darkness in my life… My father died when I was just a baby, and my mother couldn’t care for me, so my grandparents raised me. My family didn’t really get along, and seemed to constantly be at war. From an early age I was told how to wear my hair, what to wear, what music to listen to, how to act, and who to be. My entire life was dictated and it seemed there was nothing I could do against it. Everyone wanted something different from me, I had to learn how to be a different person for every person I was around. I never got to be me, or even figure out who “me” was. As I got older, things worsened for me. I was molested at 11, my family was still fighting. I was so depressed, that I started cutting myself. I was oppressed, and always made to feel guilty for who I was or what I wanted. Was there no other life for me than what they wanted me to be? I ran away from home at fourteen, and when the police asked if I would go back home with them, I said no. I went to a group home for a while, which was actually not too bad. The housemothers were really nice, and I will never forget them. Then I bounced around to several different foster homes. Although I was not promiscuous, I was made to be on birth control just like they did to every girl in the system that had become of age. We had no choice over our own bodies. I was treated as a source of income, then had horrible lies told about me so that they could get rid of me and move on to the next child. I was raped at fifteen, and I still fear open doors at nighttime. Not every house was bad though, and I did make some friends. Then the time came when I was asked if I would return home, I said yes. But I was only allowed to come home if I went to church. While I was against being forced into yet another box they were trying to force me into, I agreed because it was better than what I had been going through in the system. After I graduated high school, I got married as a way of running away from home again. We ended up moving all the way to Texas. We fought all the time, and abuse was the norm. But it gave me my two little girls, who gave me new reason for life. I left my husband, and met Mike. We fell in love, and got pregnant with our first son. But it was too soon. I was far too damaged from the abuse to have a healthy relationship, and he wasn’t ready. So we separated and the girls, our unborn son, and I moved back to Indiana. We were homeless for a while, and depended solely on the kindness of family and dear friends, and a pair of complete strangers who I will never forget as long as I live. We finally got a house, and I gave birth to my beautiful oldest son. I got a job, and my first car. Things were difficult, but started to really look up for us. Eventually, Mike and I got back together and he moved in with us. Things were really hard for quite a while, but we were working on it. We got married, had another beautiful son, and moved into the home that we have now. It’s taken me quite a while, but I am learning more and more about who I am, and becoming the person I want to be. We are finally happy, truly happy. I’ve never had that before in my life. Sometimes it makes me uncomfortable, because I don’t know how to be happy, but I’m learning…


I tell you this long, horrible story so that you can see the hell I went through, and that life turned around for me. It can for you too. Whatever you’re going through or have been through, don’t let that hold you back. Don’t let that define you. Discover who you are, who you’re really meant to be. Be the strong individual you are and rise above it. It may be a long, scary, horrible road. But you can do it. My favorite saying is, “No mud, no lotus”. Even the lotus has to grow and push through the mud to finally reach the sunlight. Your suffering and unhappiness is just the mud, don’t get stuck in it… PUSH. Grow toward the light, and toward your happiness. You can do it.

In the model’s own words.

I first met this client back in 2009, and the son that would be born after those images were made is soon to turn 5. He has a little brother now as well. Also during that time frame, recovery from a difficult abdominal surgery. She has more than once in her career worked as a professional model and each time I have photographed her I came away better at what I do. She’s also a prominent businessperson and somewhat of a fitness guru.

And she’s an extraordinarily beautiful Work of Art.