I started #storyportrait out of a desire to share about the incredible stories of the people in my life and with the hope that others would do the same. There's something special and compelling about knowing others' stories and I love seeing more people using Instagram as a place to spread the stories of others.
@shonduras is the special kind of guy who goes all in on everything he does. Shaun is most well known for his Snapchat where he goes all in on documenting adventures in quirky and funny ways. He works hard and plays hard and it's paying off big time. But more important than his professional and social success, Shaun goes all in on his relationships. I've experienced it first hand. A year ago I randomly met Shaun in an airport. He was kind and genuine and it was an all around fantastic experience. It could have ended there, but that's not how Shaun works. Shaun goes all in on his relationships. Over the coming weeks and months he invited me into his friend group, taught me a lot about telling stories, and encouraged me tons. Since we first met, we've spent time together all over from the east coast to the west coast. Today I randomly texted him saying I'm driving through his home state of Utah. I knew he had just gotten back from London and definitely wouldn't have time to see me. But Shaun quickly texted me back inviting me over to his house. After only sleeping four hours after landing back in the States, Shaun freaking invited me into his home, offered up a bed to rest in and some cereal to eat. Shaun goes all in on relationships— whether it's with his wife and daughter or a random friend he met at an airport. I'm proud to know him. #storyportrait
Today I sat on the stoop of a barber shop in deep east Nashville as I waited for my turn on the chair. To my left sat this man sporting a pair of white Nikes and a hat with Chicago scrawled across the front. We jumped into conversation and I soon found out that I was speaking with Vernon and this was his barber shop. He told me about the struggles he had when he was young and about how hard he had to work to get where he is today. Vernon told me that he'd been on this street corner for 40 years— and I could tell it was true. He'd have to stop talking every few seconds to wave to each and every person who walked or drove by. He knew them all. (That's what happened when I was shooting his portrait. Somebody walked by and he had to wave.) I asked this wise 80-year-old man as many questions as I could squeeze in and he stated every one of his answers carefully and meticulously. Each one of his sentences was perfectly quotable, deserving to be written in books, made into signs and shared on Twitter. The one piece of wisdom he kept repeating for me though was this: "Whether somebody is better than you or not—Never let anyone be nicer to you than you can be to them. That'll solve most every problem you'll have." It's a pretty cool concept. Every interaction and every relationship is a sport and the point system is kindness. Win. He made me promise I would pass this piece of wisdom along to one person. So I'm passing it along to you. #storyportrait Also, you may know Vernon better as Vernon Winfrey... the father of @Oprah Winfrey.
Pete Souza (@petesouza) was my first favorite photographer. I first fell in love with his ability to tell compelling stories through photos when he covered Senator Obama's rise to the White House. He's photographed countless world leaders, celebrities and important moments. He served as a staff photographer under Reagan and now serves as the Chief White House photographer for President Obama. When asked if he still gets nervous while shooting important events for the President, Pete said he doesn't really get nervous anymore. He previously shot photos in two war zones and had a few really close calls. After that kind of experience, shooting photos when nobody is shooting at you can't really compare. Pete did say though, that he was absolutely starstruck when Julia Roberts gave him a kiss once. True story. I guess that's kind of like nerves. #storyportrait #WHinstameet #WWIM11
One of the highlights of my trip to New York was randomly meeting Olympic figure skaters @maiashibutani and @alexshibutani. Aside from being unbelievably talented, Maia and Alex are as kind as they come. I loved spending an entire morning talking about what their lives are like as some of the world's top athletes. I definitely know who I'm rooting for at the next Winter Olympic Games.
One of the most important people in @caleglendening's life is his grandmother, who raised him alongside his mother. After graduating high school, Cale moved to Los Angeles to chase his dreams of working in the film industry. Soon after finding an internship in the city, Cale got news that his grandmother had developed Alzheimer's. Within a month he quit his internship and moved back to his tiny hometown in the Midwest. When he returned home, Cale fell into old habits and laziness. The Alzheimer's was beginning to take his grandmother's ability to speak, but she was still able to articulate her thoughts in written form. One day she wrote him a letter. It began: "I know you’re probably going to hate me and think 'Grandma is so mean' but I have to be honest because I love you..." She went on to tell Cale how much he had disappointed her by wasting his potential and implored him to go out, work hard and earn what he wanted in life. She challenged him in a way that no one ever had. He says that the people closest to you should call you out and challenge you. It shows that someone really cares when they have the guts to tell you what you need to hear. His grandmother's words lit a fire in him that he didn’t know he had. On the day of his grandmother's funeral earlier this year, he got a call from someone really important in the film industry saying that they were greenlighting a project of his— a beautiful and poetic encouragement after 7 years of hard work inspired by his grandmother. Cale would say that's no coincidence. #storyportrait
The last time I saw Eddie and Jan was in Dubai while we were on our way home from Zimbabwe. These two live in San Francisco, so it's pretty funny that we bumped into each other in DC. Eddie has been changing the world through film and politics for the last few years. First making well-known films on YouTube, then serving at the White House under President Obama and even more recently making more incredible films. Jan is originally from Singapore and was raised across three continents. She's involved with more international media than I can wrap my head around and knows just about everything about everything. These two have seen a lot of success in the last few years. They've also learned a lot about what happens when you pursue success for the wrong reasons. I'm honored to have friends who share their wisdom with humility and choose to do things for all the right reasons. #storyportrait
Moments before I photographed Dr. Eyal Sela, the Head and Neck Surgeon at Western Galilee Hospital, he was operating on a 14 year old Syrian boy who was injured by a roadside bomb. Syria and Israel are as close to enemies as you can get, but Dr. Sela chooses to continue caring for Syrians anyway. (You can read more about why and how this hospital does this in my previous post.) Dr. Sela’s friends often ask him what happens if he takes care of a Syrian and that Syrian turns right back around and attacks them. His response: "If I touch one person and he touches his family, we can change things. Maybe I'm creating a better world for my children.”i With tears in his eyes, Dr. Sela continued, "I have a 14 year old kid. He's playing Wii and Xbox. This 14 year old kid I’m operating on, he didn't choose this reality."i There are innocent people on both sides of the border. In fact, I’d dare to say that there are good people on both sides of all borders. And even greater than this, there are genuinely incredible people hard at work for goodness all over the world. It’s people like Dr. Sela that remind me of this. #WesternGalileeHospitalStory // Story 3/3
“Our purpose is to serve people and bring humanity into everything we do.” —Dr. Massad Barhoum, Director of the Western Galilee Hospital Dr. Barhoum’s hospital is less than 6 miles from the Syrian border. When the award-winning hospital was first built, Syrian men and women would walk across the border and be given free medical care. No questions asked. More than 1/3 of the hospital’s patients were foreigners. Over the years, a rise in national conflict resulted in a fence being built along the border. Syria and Israel were now enemies and Syrians were no longer able to cross the border to gain access to this hospital. But an increase in roadside bombs and snipers in Syria meant more people needed quality medical attention than ever. In the hope that they might be able to get across the border and seek help from their sworn enemies, Syrians began bringing victims of war to the fence. Dr. Barhoum is serious when he says the hospital’s purpose is to serve people and bring humanity into everything they do. The doctors at the hospital, knowing they wanted to care for these people, began cutting the fence and bringing Syrians across the border to be cared for. They remove shrapnel from muscles, heal bullet wounds and give people new faces. They take care of patients as long as they need to be cared for, refusing payment. At the end of their treatment, doctors send their patients home with whatever they need: medicine, a wheelchair, food, books, etc. Israelis and Syrians should be, according to politics, enemies. But in the eyes of these doctors, under the leadership of Dr. Barhoum, there’s no such thing as an enemy. The doctors at this hospital are choosing to see the humanity in every person that walks through their doors, even those who most of their peers outside the hospital would see as the "bad guys". It’s easy to get bogged down by the darkness in the world. But it’s my firm belief that there’s nowhere without some light. Look for hope and you’ll find it. In the midst of war, politics, death and prejudice, there is hope. I see hope in this hospital. #WesternGalileeHospitalStory // Story 2/3
In a world where 800 women die due to pregnancy complications every single day, Jackie is a hero. Jackie is a local nurse, working in several communities to educate, protect and care for women. It's not necessarily easy to talk about controversial issues like women's health in Zimbabwe, but Jackie is passionate about changing culture and changing lives. She travels between villages and educates men and women on safe childbirth, what to expect with pregnancies, the importance of cleanliness and how to prevent HIV/AIDS. Oh, and she performs surgeries and delivers babies. NBD. Most people probably couldn't do this job very successfully. (I know I couldn't.) But Jackie isn't most people. She's honestly one of the funniest people I've ever met and makes the kind of jokes that make you feel accepted and loved. She's always smiling and its apparent that everyone in her community respects her. I'm not worried about Africa because of women like Jackie. She's making all the difference in the world. The future is bright. #storyportrait
I just hosted a Nelson Mandela look-alike contest and this man won. I think it was his hopeful smile and salt and pepper hair. Fake Mandela's name is Dan and it turns out that he, like Mandela, hugely impacted his nation's well-being. I began my conversation by naively asked Dan if he had ever done much traveling outside of Zimbabwe. "Just a little bit. Latin America, the Soviet Union, up and down Africa, nearly all of Europe..." Whoops. More than me. Dan joined the leadership within the government in 1980 when Zimbabwe gained its independence after 90 years as a British colony. As an integral part of this transition, Dan was sent around the world to speak with political leaders about the needs the new nation faced. About a decade later, Dan became part of Parliament— just as the national economy took a nosedive. Dan worked to restore his nation to its previous state. Now Zimbabwe's economy is far more stable and he serves as an advisor to the youngest chief in the history of Zimbabwe. Dan's years of experience and wisdom have been incredibly valuable to the young chief. Dan advises on a number of issues— one of the greatest being the importance of advocating for women's health. Absolutely honored I got to spend so much time getting to know Dan today. He's seen more history than I can imagine. #storyportrait
I felt pretty awesome driving around with the youngest chief in the history of Zimbabwe over the last few days. He has a really cool sounding name but I just call him Chief. Because how often do you get to call a real chief Chief? Chief's father was a chief, as was his father's father before him. A few generations before that, his grandfather's grandfather was a king of sorts. You would expect someone in a position of power at such a young age to have a sense of self-entitlement and hubris, but Chief leads his community with humility. One of my favorite things about Chief is the way he's using his position to stand up for people with less power— people who can't stand up for themselves. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go refresh Facebook to see if Chief has added me as a friend yet. ☺️😁 #storyportrait
I've spent the last week working with @thesenumbers, shooting photos of the best and brightest students in Rwanda. As a part of that, I got to meet Fred. From the moment we sat down to share a meal, I knew we were kindred spirits. He's a university student my age, studying business with a goal of being an entrepreneur. He's committed to using his education and ambition to impact his community and country, rather than just heading to the United States like many of his peers. And you know what? I'm certain that Fred is the future of Rwanda. He's brilliant and we spent our time together talking through his incredible business ideas, discussing marketing and the ways we can use our current and future platforms to make a difference in the lives of others. Fred is ambitious and has the amazing ability to follow through with his dreams. I'm excited to follow along with his story as he builds up Rwanda in amazing ways. #storyportrait #whptodayimet
Just a few years ago, Stella was so ashamed of the way she looked in her tattered clothes that she felt she could never walk into a business of any kind. Then everything changed. She joined a cooperative community with other single mothers in her village organized by @beautyforashesuganda. She learned to save her money, pool resources with other single mothers and was encouraged by other women in her same situation for the first time. Now Stella is SO proud of her new clothes. She couldn't stop talking, in the most humble way possible, about how "smart" she looks. She even has shoes! I just had to take her out for her very own portrait shoot. Doesn't she look stunning? #storyportrait
Brandi is unlike anyone else I've ever met. She's making an incredible difference in the world through her three organizations, the way she leads by example and her ability to effortlessly identify and encourage people's best qualities. She's a single mother, caring for single mothers and widows in Uganda. She's a woman learning to experience wholeness in who she is, passing along her wisdom to those in need of understanding their own value. She's a human being who has seen and experienced abuse and oppression, fighting to rescue victims of human trafficking. @brandilea leaves you inspired, giggling and full of life. I had the best time shooting for her organization @beautyforashesuganda over the last few weeks and the impact she's making skyrocket. #storyportrait
"Hello! My name is Sharon. I'm 16 years old and when I grow up I want to be a supermodel." This is how Sharon introduced herself last night and I think it perfectly depicts her personality. She's in her thirties. Spunky. Vivacious. Bubbly. I'm drawn to her. I've known her for two days and I love her. I'm not the only one. On a few streets in Metro Manila, Sharon is famous. More famous than you or I will ever be. When kids who sleep on the streets find out she's in the area, they flock to her. These kids are prostitutes, drug addicts, runaways and orphans. They share their troubles with her. They ask for wisdom. Why? Because she cares about them. She genuinely cares about them and may as well be the only person that does. As a part of living this lifestyle of generous love, Sharon runs an organization called Children's Garden which houses and cares for 20 former street boys aged 12-18. These kids are rescued out of abuse, drugs, poverty and hopelessness. Sharon is secretly incredible. Very few people outside her city know her name, but she couldn't care less. She selflessly and sacrificially pours herself into the work she feels called to and it's changing her city from the inside out. I'm completely inspired. #storyportrait #secretlyincredible #unseenphilippines
I read about her in TIME. I heard about her during @popeishope planning meetings. I listened to someone quote her on the radio. I heard someone passing by on the street say that she’s the Mother Theresa of Philadelphia. In the late 1970’s a young nun named Mary began her work advocating for the homeless in her city. Time and time again she would say, “None of us are home until all of us are home.” Within two decades she’d reduced the number of people sleeping on the streets in Philly to less than 200. She founded an incredible program called Project H.O.M.E. that’s so successful that it's become a model for dozens of other cities in the United States. More than 95% of the people who cycle through the doors of Project H.O.M.E. have never returned to life on the streets. Here’s an excerpt of TIME’s article about her: "When Jon Bon Jovi (a loyal Project supporter) described Mary to the press as a nun "who swears and spits," the good sister merely replied, "I do not spit" — and then returned to her work of tirelessly saving her city, one desperate citizen at a time.”". Sister Mary is a legend. She believes she can completely end homelessness in Philadelphia. Pope Francis believes her, and spent some time alone with her during his stay in town— commending her for the incredible work she’s doing. (Part 1/2) #GoodIsWinning
I met Cheryl Anne on my last day in Philly. I wish I’d met her earlier. The more we talked, the more inspired I became. Within a few years— at a young age, Cheryl Anne lost both her parents and became situationally homeless— needing to bounce around between different people’s couches. For years it was difficult to continue her education and keep a steady job. Social services couldn’t help her. She ended up in a program for homeless youth, which referred her to another program, which in turn, finally, brought her to Sister Mary’s Project H.O.M.E. She was one of the first teenagers included in Project H.O.M.E. Since joining Project H.O.M.E., Cheryl Anne has been able to jump back into school, land an amazing job, and connect with an incredibly influential mentor. When she graduates, she plans on continuing her education to become a lawyer. Cheryl Anne has quickly became a model for how this program can turn a life around. So much so that she’s become friends with Jon Bon Jovi— a huge supporter. She was so excited to share this photo of Jon Bon Jovi giving her a kiss. During our time together, I couldn’t help but tell Cheryl Anne how much she inspired me and how impressive she is. She continued to humbly share more of her story and how she plans to use her story to help others in her situation she found herself in. She says that though her life has been filled with pain and difficulty, it’s been so worth it for the opportunity to inspire others. (Part 2/2) #GoodIsWinning
Friends & Family
This girl. Last week @sammi.horne had one of the craziest weeks of her life. She finished up finals, dog-sat for a friend, did a photo shoot for a rad company, spent time with lots of family and friends, and graduated college. I was supposed to be in Nashville with her for all of it, but because I'm a jerk, I ended up hospitalized in Portland. One more crazy thing added to Sammi's crazy life. But the moment I was admitted to the hospital, Sammi bought a plane ticket to Portland to be with me. Through all of her craziness, she chose to leave and sit by my hospital bed. That's love. Sammi is love. I feel so loved. It's been amazing having this girl by my side this week. She's helped me learn to walk again, watched my body heal and made me smile way too much. I was sad to hug her goodbye today, but I'm excited for her brand new crazy week: moving into a new house with amazing friends and starting a brand new job at my favorite company. I'm so proud of and thankful for @sammi.horne. 😍
The night I visited the emergency room she told me she was going to come to town. I told her not to. That I'd be fine. The next day she walked into my hospital room anyway. I cried. Happy cried. I needed her there. I wanted her there. Over the next week my mom slept on waiting room chairs and blow up mattresses. She talked to doctors, held my hand and put up with my hospital drug-induced sass. My mom always puts others before herself, supports my crazy dreams and pushes me to be my best. She also giggles really loud and cute anytime she's up after 10pm. Happy Mother's Day, @beharv. I love you.
He’s a hardworking creative mastermind. She’s one of the top photographers in the world. Together they’re @jordanlamb and @maria.lamb: an unstoppable force of love, generosity and joy. Jordan and Maria are the type of people you can be yourself with. They make you feel comfortable, at ease and relaxed while never being boring. My friendship with this sweet couple started off slow and fast all at the same time. I feel like I've known each other for years, but it wasn’t until @sammi.horne moved in with them this last summer that we instantly became best friends. Even since we first started hanging out, our friendship has continued to grow. I’ve been going over to Jordan and Maria's house every week for a year— just to eat meals, watch our favorite show, talk about life and… do my laundry. (Thanks for letting me use all your detergent, guys!) They even visited me twice while I was in the hospital. I’m so honored to have great friends like these two in my life. If you haven’t already checked out their photos, you’re going to want to do that now. I love you @jordanlamb and @maria.lamb. #storyportrait
My little sister is the sweetest girl in the world and today I'm the proudest big brother in the world. Jennifer is in high school and has a huge heart for her peers with special needs. Thanks to Jennifer, all the students with special needs in her school received special invitations to the upcoming Winter Formal dance. Most of these kids haven't attended a dance before. Jennifer wanted to make sure everyone knew a few awesome moves so she organized a dance party and invited all her friends with special needs. They turned up the music and all learned how to dance together. It was incredible. The local news even showed up to interview her about it. This is the way I want to live my life. I want to throw all kinds of dance parties and welcome the people that others often forget about. #storyportrait
This morning I woke up early for another sunrise shoot and @colinedward21 was kind enough to come along as my assistant. When I first met Colin almost four years ago, I didn't think we could be more different. In addition to coming from different backgrounds and having different taste in most everything, Colin spent his time working out a lot and had a long goatee. I just took photos on my iPhone and wore skinny jeans. Soon though, I started to become friends with Colin's friends and he started to become friends with mine. That meant we saw a lot more of each other. And we became friends. We committed to being friends. Good friends. When my lease ended, I moved into Colin's apartment with another friend. The best thing started to happen: We began to witness growth in each other's lives. I saw him go through some hard times and come out on the other side. He saw me do the same. We've experienced more of each other's lives than just about anyone else. My friend @michaelwear says that there is, perhaps, nothing more counter-cultural today than commitment. I think I've learned the power of commitment in my friendship with Colin. Choose a few people in your life and commit to sticking with them through thick and thin. If your experience is anything like mine, you'll come out with a best friend. #storyportrait
This is @kaarins and her dog Misha. When I was in junior high, I added Kaarin, a high schooler, on MySpace. We had mutual friends and I loved her art but she didn't know that. After she got over how weird I am, the two of us started hanging out. Kaarin has been an incredible mentor to me through the years. She's basically taught me everything I know about photography, business, design, art and adventure. She's given me countless opportunities to do big things— even more than that, she's encouraged me to take big opportunities. #storyportrait Today we're hiking and hanging out in Spokane. So expect more photos.
Kaarin and I are hiking out in the boonies of Spokane. The hike isn't easy, but it's worth it. She reminds me time and time again to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Over the past few years, Kaarin has achieved what most people would consider success. She's held huge creative jobs at amazing agencies, followed her passions and traveled the world extensively but Kaarin doesn't see these as an end goal. She doesn't settle for other people's definitions of success. She keeps fighting, keeps learning and keeps exploring. I really look up to her for that. #storyportrait [#kaarinstagram 2/3]
Made a quick stop off in Spokane on the way to Pullman to visit @kaarins. As long as I can remember she has been an incredible mentor, inspiration, and friend. So anytime I'm anywhere close to where she lives I make an effort to get together with her. Last time we were together in Spokane we went on a hike and I shared a #storyportait of her. One of my Instagram followers @kevinhoward_ took notice of Kaarin and hit the follow button. A few months later, Kevin went to an art show where Kaarin was showcasing some of her work. It took the entire 7 hour duration of the show for Kevin to get the nerve to walk up and introduce himself. At the end of the night he finally said hi (Kaarin said it was awkward) but completely forgot to give her his number, so he sent her an email the day with his number and an invite to get coffee. After a few months of trying to escape from the friend zone, Kaarin finally agreed to go on a date with Kevin and they've been riding motorcycles together ever since. #storyportrait
For as long as I've known @the_is, she's been a huge creative inspiration to me. Emily is a talented designer and illustrator in Boston by way of Indiana and Nashville. She's creatively brilliant and goes after whatever she wants. Earlier this year she decided that she wanted to record an album... so she recorded an album. Simple as that. She's not planning on becoming a full time musician; she just saw something she wanted to do and did it. She didn't take herself too seriously and was able to simply enjoy the process of creating art. She sees creative opportunities as a recipe. If you have the supplies, put in the time and put in the energy, you can get whatever outcome you want. Thanks for showing us around Boston, @the_is!
I first started shooting photos professionally at the age of 16. (Dumb, I know.) The small town I grew up in lacked the photographic inspiration I was longing for so I turned to the internet to fill that void. I found an incredible community of photographers on Flickr that inspired and encouraged me to be a better photographer. My favorite photographer on Flickr was another 16 year old named Grant. He lived in Kansas and had a goal to produce one phenomenal photo every day for a year. Throughout that year I was in awe of Grant's work and was blown away when we became friends from across the country. It was awesome to have a talented friend as young and ambitious as me. He was wise beyond his years and energized me to create good work and live life well. After high school though, Grant and I lost touch. We lost each other's numbers, got busy as we moved to new cities and pursued new work. Here's the rad part though: Grant and I reconnected earlier this year after finding each other on Instagram. Grant now lives in San Francisco and works for VSCO, a company that is changing the world of photography in amazing ways. While I was in town I got to spend a lot of time with Grant and he still inspires me to produce great work and live life well. He also loves jamming to Miley's new CD just as much as me. I'm glad to know @grantheinlein. #storyportrait
Last year on New Years Eve I was contacted by a Facebook employee wanting to write a story about me for Instagram. That Facebook employee was @jeffreydgerson and that message led not only to a great friendship between Jeffrey and I but also led toward him officially getting hired at @instagram. The story Jeffrey wrote after months of communicating back and forth was about the ridiculous ways I've been able to meet strangers from Instagram and build great friendships out of them. He included a few sentences about how I usually end up staying with people I've never met— all because of this app. This weekend in San Francisco was truly poetic because @jeffreydgerson invited me to stay with him— having never met me before. We spent the weekend exploring his city, meeting new people, making up new versions of @lordemusic songs, laughing a lot and taking pictures. We had done the very thing he'd written the story about— built a friendship because of an app... outside the app. I love that our friendship has come full circle from that first interaction to this weekend. I'm honored to have a friend in Jeffrey. We hit it off the minute we met, which isn't a surprise because he's been nothing short of incredible ever since we first started talking. Jeffry is always excited about life and goes all in on everything he does. I'm excited to spend plenty more time with this guy through the years. #storyportrait Also, he has the best smile ever. New hashtag: #ThatJeffreySmile
We live in such a small world. The folks at @lyft know that I love telling people’s stories, so they hired me to photograph some of their drivers and get to know their stories. Lyft arranged for me to meet up with Bob, a driver who just moved to Portland from Seattle with his wife. We talked over text and planned to meet up to go on a short hike through the forest near my house. It turns out that Bob and I are neighbors! Not only are we neighbors, but over the course of our hike we learned that we have a dozen mutual friends, we go to the same church, and he used to play in a band I like. Crazy! It turns out that Bob and I are a lot alike. I love meeting people for the sake of hearing their stories and better understanding who they are. Bob says that he loves driving for Lyft because it lets him get to know people and better understand the culture of the city in a really authentic way. #WhyILyft #storyportrait
As soon as I landed in Texas I ordered a ride from @lyft and received a very warm welcome by my new friend Raymond. Raymond has a long history of event planning all over the place, including NYC. He just started up a new business here in Dallas doing just that. It was awesome getting to know this guy and hear some of his dreams as he drove me to my hotel. We even exchanged cards at the end of my ride so we could keep in touch. Thanks Raymond! #storyportrait
My waitress at breakfast was so sweet that I knew I had to ask for her portrait. Boo used to be a pipeline welder until a few years ago when she moved to Sisters, Oregon. Now she works at a cute little diner. It's pretty obvious from the way she carries herself, but Boo says she loves her job because she loves meeting new people and making them smile. #traveloregon #storyportrait
If I had to describe @allyvest with one word, it would be passion. I know a lot of people who are passionate about what they do. I think those are the kind of people I'm drawn to. But Ally is special. Ally uses her passion for writing, not for herself, but for others. Over the last year I've known her, I've seen Ally change the lives of so many people by teaching them how to do what she does: write for a living. Most people would be scared of the competition, keeping their secrets to themselves. But Ally generously shares her wisdom with aspiring writers, empowering them to live better because of writing. She does this because she doesn't just know how to write a good story, she knows how to live one. #storyportrait PS: @allyvest is one of my favorite people I follow on Instagram. She herself would say she is -not- a photographer, but the way she tells the story of her life in each post is incredible. PPS: Her dog @coopervest is the cutest.
Exactly one year ago, a phenomenal brand came to be. Birthed out of terrible heartbreak, @shopboutonne was a fresh beginning, a symbol of hope, an opportunity to transform lives. This week I found myself in the same city as @loveerinpechtel, the owner of @shopboutonne. We'd been friends for months, but hadn't yet met in person. We sat down in a beautifully lit Nashville home and talked about her story, the brokenness of this world and the ways we can come out of that brokenness to love people through it all. As a dreamer and an artist, Erin stepped into what she loved and created Boutonné. It's evident that everything she's overcome has been the driving force behind the way she loves people through her art and business. Definitely check out @shopboutonne. (I love their work and own one of their bags, among other things.) You may realize that you've already seen some of their products in some of your favorite stores. Also, tune in to hear more of Erin's story over time. It's one of those stories that motivates me to live life well. (Also, @loveerinpechtel just posted a hilarious photo of me in an awkward position while trying to shoot a photo of her. Take a peek.) #storyportrait
A few years ago, @allyvest thought she had everything she'd ever wanted. After getting her graduate degree she had landed her dream full-time job. She had just been approved for a loan and was on the cusp of buying a house. Everything seemed to be going according to plans. At a wedding, a friend asked Ally a question. What would you do with your life if you didn't have to worry about money? She thought about it. The answer: I would drive across the country and write a book about it. All 50 states. But normal people don't get to just quit their lives and go on road trips. She was conflicted. What would her family think? What about all the things she'd saved money for through the years? What about the job she'd worked so hard for? But her friend talked her into it. She quit her job, sold everything she owned and hit the road. She discovered the beauty and freedom of living with less. She wrote an incredible book about the journey called Packing Light. Today I got to shoot portraits of Ally and talk to her about getting rid of the things that hold us back and living life on the road. My question for you: What would you do with your life if you didn't have to worry about money? What's keeping you from doing this? #storyportrait