November 2, 2018

Brittany in the West Allis Portrait Studio

Where to begin with Brittany?

Brittany was an absolute joy to photograph. I was completely thrilled with her style and how much of a chameleon she was in front of the camera. I love every single image we made together.

Many, many people come to the studio for a photographic experience in hopes that it changes the way they see themselves. Brittany was no exception to this and I am going to let her share her story – I am sure you’ll be moved just as I was. I’m so grateful she found me and I am going to treasure these images of her. I know she and her loved ones will do the same.


“About me: I just graduated from college last December. I mention that because college was my whole life, it’s where I found and created not only community, but my family. I’ve worked in mental health for a few years through internships and now my job. I am adopted from Vietnam, and was adopted at the age of two months. Before everyone starts gushing with the “you must be so grateful,” I have struggled with being adopted for a long time and it has caused a lot of pain, and brought great moments, too. But, I am proud of the person I became, the opportunities given, the work I’ve done, the discussions I started, and the incredible people who still love me. I love watching sunrises, I love learning, and I love petting all the furry animals in the world, particularly doggos. I try to give a lot of love to people, and really try to give more love than I receive. I care deeply about people, about social justice issues, and that people are treated with equity. I am an advocate for so many different things, and proud of it. I’m also one of the most extra people you might ever meet, and it just fits to my personality. As some people I used to work for in college put it, I’m a “shenanigator.”

The only things I like about my appearance are my tattoos, my hair, and my wardrobe on most days. People probably think I have a lot of confidence, but in reality, I am incredibly self-conscious and live with a lot of self-hate and self-blame. As said earlier, I am adopted, and I have a really hard time with a racial identity crisis, and just overall who I am as a person. I struggle with depression, I’ve tried to take my own life a few times, and live with suicidal ideation every day of my life.  I’ve hurt myself before, and my body shows that. AND, I am not my mental health problems.

I am constantly deciding whether I’ll stay or go, and I wanted to be able to see myself through a different lens (no pun intended). I don’t see what my friends see, and so just trying to gain half of an ounce of self-love. My dad passed away four years ago, and I don’t have a lot of pictures of him. So, I wanted to have that. Not due to my SI, but just because at some point, we all must leave something behind, and I am a selfie queen despite my self-consciousness, so I just wanted something nice. Also, I just accepted a new job working with adolescents with PTSD, so it’s kind of like a new beginning for me.

Working with Theresa for hair and makeup was great. She has great hair, and I liked that she was willing to meet me where I was at. I really don’t wear makeup, and I loved it! I loved feeling pampered and had really great conversations with her. And she made me feel good about myself, and I loved that she complimented how clear my skin is! I work hard to get it like that!

Working with Jenn…. where are the words?

Jenn made me feel important and beautiful both inside and out. She enjoyed my goofiness that I displayed, made me feel comfortable and not awkward, and we shared a lot of good laughs and conversations. She also has great dance moves. I really appreciated that at the beginning, Jenn asked if I wanted the scars on my body edited out, or kept, and that she always asks. While I don’t owe anyone an explanation, my scars do not define me, but they are a part of me. I was really grateful that she asked! Jenn made me feel like maybe I am a decent person to work with, and her excitement while she was looking at the pictures to make sure she got the shot made me excited. She made me feel confident in front of a professional camera, and I had to put trust in her that they actually looked good, and not let my self-conscious self get in the way. She was open, and it was just an incredible experience.

Are there actually words to share the reveal? Probably not. Speechless? Does that work? I looked at every picture and said to myself, “Wow! Who is that?!” In all honesty, I forgot that that was me. I loved the video presentation, and I kind of was in shock. Only someone as talented as Jenn could truly bring out the goofy side, the tattoos… the things that really make me, me.

I told Jenn right after the reveal: You took an incredibly broken woman, and made her look beautiful.

Jenn later responded, “That’s how your loved ones see you.”

The images are absolutely stunning. I am still in honest disbelief that that is me, so I think it might take a while to actually grasp to that concept. They’re just so beautiful, wonderful, and all the other positive adjectives I could use to describe them and Jenn’s beautiful work and talent.



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