Category: Survivor Sessions

Survivor Session – Part 4: The Images

The following images were created in Downtown Flint, MI by team of local artists and small businesses. This is for our home. This is for Cindy and her strength and inner beauty that inspires us all.

I know you're only here to see the pictures, so I'll be quiet now. Here are a few of our favorites.

Cindy Survivor Session, Downtown Flint, MI
Cindy Survivor Session, Downtown Flint, MI
Cindy Survivor Session, Downtown Flint, MI
Cindy Survivor Session, Downtown Flint, MI
Cindy Survivor Session, Downtown Flint, MI
Cindy Survivor Session, Downtown Flint, MI

More images available at

Highlight Reel

We were lucky enough to team up with Dan of DnA Design Co. LLC to capture the day and create this beautiful highlight video for us.

Survivor Sessions – Part 3: The Sponsors

My team, for the day of Cindy’s #survivorsessions was beyond amazing! They made this project possible. But let’s take a step back and appreciate the other amazing businesses and individuals who helped us with this project.

The Dress : Perfect Fit Bridal Tuxedo Prom, Clio, MI

Absolutely would not have been the same without them. The service and dress provided took the whole experience (and images) to another level. The team at Perfect Fit graciously welcomed Cindy, Sue and I into the store (20,000sqft of lace and sparkle heaven) and provided a private bridal suite and an amazing assortment of dresses to chose from. They were so kind and attentive. After being dazzled by all the beauties and watching Cindy glow as she embraced the moment, we went back at the first dress. We had discussed this particular gown before the appointment and had me absolutely in love, a flowing gown by Jasmine with an avant-garde nod.

The whole experience was more than I could ask for. There I was, grateful to be invited into the store, happy to accept ANY dress that would fit. Instead, the ladies of Perfect Fit made very sure the dress chosen made Cindy feel amazing, and altered it to fit her so that she was comfortable. PLUS, without being asked, they provided jewelry to complement the gown.

I am beyond thankful. This gown was truly the icing on the cake, making this more than a simple everyday photo session. Cindy’s smile made it all worth it.

The Jewelry: Paparazzi by Lynne

Lynne was so kind to offer us jewelry as soon as we were looking for people to help. She provided multiple pieces that were used in photos throughout the day. I am so grateful for her hard work and willingness to assist. Even waiting till the dress was chosen so that the jewelry would coordinate. Who knew you could get such cute, versatile jewelry for only $5? What?!

The Secret Gift: Jewelry by BlackUnicornBlue

In a late night wondering around Instagram, I came across BlackUnicornBlue, a Flint based jewelry artist. Her beadwork focuses on crystal and stone bracelets with an emphasis on the energy the stone may provide the wearer. Among her gallery was a beautiful Breast Cancer Survivor bracelet with pink cat eye. She graciously offered custom made bracelets for each of the Breast Cancer Survivors involved in Cindy’s special day. They were the most beautiful tiger eye and pink cat eye bracelets with “strong”, “courage”, “hope” charm on each one.

This was the perfect gift for the ladies, causing tears of thanks before we even got started with the festivities.


The Sign: Wonderfully New Creations

Sue, creator of Wonderfully New Creations, painted a sign for Cindy, to remind her of the Warrior she is. Complete with boxing gloves and made with so much love, the sign now hangs in Cindy’s home.
Please, take a moment to check out more of Sue’s fabulous creations. She her whimsical up-cycled pieces are just want a house needs to become a home.

The Setup Location and Lunch : Café Rhema, Downtown Flint, MI

When looking for a location to get ready, my goals were more than just an empty room with a spot to sit and good proximity to our scouted locations. I also was looking for a place that would instantly make all the beautiful strangers on the team feel like they’ve known each other forever. Café Rhema was the perfect solution and was gracious enough to welcome us into their fabulous 1920s inspired coffee shop. Affordable and seriously great tasting food, great drinks (caffeine!), plenty of space, and beautiful decor made this our dream spot.

Few of the team members had met before the day of the shoot, but this gorgeous backdrop easily led to the camaraderie I hoped to build. Just perfection. At the end of the day, I wanted everyone to not only feel accomplished in their skillset, but I wanted them to feel like they were part of something bigger than us. I think the tears and hugs proved it worked.

The Photo Location: Downtown Flint, MI

Why choose a city that has had so much controversy surrounding it over the past few years? (okay, more like decades) This decision did not come lightly, but I didn’t want to select just any pretty place. Like with all my clients, the location was chosen based on the subject, Cindy. She was born, raised, worked, and still lives in the city of Flint. This is her home. So, where better to photograph her? Plus, the setting was a perfect metaphor, of which I will discuss at another time.

The Support Group : Cindy’s Squad

Individual sponsors and community members, truly made this project a reality. Their generous offerings allowed us to serve lunch to the team and present Cindy with amazing flowers from FloraDora, Flint, MI. When all is said and done, she will also receive archival prints of her portraits and a beautiful video to accompany them.

Thank you, from all involved, for making this the perfect day.

Survivor Sessions – Part 2: The Team

On April 7th, we will be producing a glamour photo session in Downtown Flint. Our goal is to create a positive story for Flint and a magical moment for Cindy, completely putting aside the patient aspect of her life, focusing on beauty, joy and the life we love. [Read more about Cindy’s Story here.]

After putting out the story of the inspiringly optimistic Cindy, a few fabulous creatives offered to provide their talents for this project. I have assembled a team of professionals including a videographer, hair and makeup artists, and assistants. All graciously volunteering their time for this wonderful project, to honor Cindy and other survivors. I am so humbled by the giving spirit of this team.

Sponsors are helping to provide jewelry for Cindy, food for the team, as well as cover for expenses such as printing, so that Cindy will have a tangible memory of this day. A huge shout out to Perfect Fit Bridal Tuxedo Prom of Clio for providing a dress for the shoot. I’m a giddy little girl, like it’s my wedding all over again, getting to pick out the most amazing dress for Cindy.

The Dream Team

It takes more than just me, the photographer, to create this amazing experience. Meet the amazing people who will be making my little vision a reality. There is absolutely no way I could do this without them. I am excited to work with this team to create something greater than ourselves.

Megan Maureen, Makeup Artist

Megan, Makeup Artist

Megan recently graduated from Multimedia Makeup Academy with honors, but she believes learning your craft should be a lifelong process. Her favorite part about the makeup industry is supporting and encouraging people to reach their full potential, all while putting their best face forward. To her, beauty is so much deeper and more complex than outer appearances will allow us to see. She loves bringing that inner or underlying expression to the surface through the medium of makeup.
IG @MeganMaureenMakeup



Day-of Assistants

Sue (Nominator and my Go-to-Gal), Lisa (a free spirit with an eye for light), Jody (friend of Cindy's and former makeup professional)

Judy Darling, Hairstylist

Judy at Flint Zombie Walk
Judy (center) with Sue (left) and Cindy (right) at the Flint Zombie Walk

Judy has been a professional hairstylist for 35 years, providing her creative touch to Cindy’s special day. A fellow breast cancer survivor, Judy thrives in her faith and the beauty of the world around her. 



Perfect Fit Bridal Tuxedos Prom, Dress Sponsor

Perfect Fit Bridal Tuxedos Prom is the largest bridal wedding dress, plus size bridal, prom and plus size prom store in Michigan. Located in Clio, they provide private spaces in respect  of the emotional moment of finding the "Perfect Dress". 
IG @perfectfitformals
twitter @Perfect_Fit_

Dan Bennett, Videographer

Dan Bennett, DnA Design

Dan Bennett is the Founder and Creative Director of DnA Design Company, a high-end video production and digital media design firm that helps businesses/organizations that struggle to tell their stories, do so in an effective and impactful manner.

Some of DnA Design Company’s clients include...
General Motors
Harley Davidson
The Oxygen Network
Mercury Marine
The University of Michigan
IG @dnadesignco
twitter @dnadesignco


Special Honors

Thank you Sue, who not only introduced me to Cindy, but has been an absolutely amazing hidden partner. She has helped to find sponsors and more, and is truly taking to heart Cindy’s happiness. I can’t thank her enough.

Let's take a moment to honor two of the women collaborating in the background of this project, Judy, professional hairstylist, and her twin sister Jody, both breast cancer survivors. I am truly grateful for their talents, time and commitment to spreading positivity through hard times. Thank you!

I also want to thank YOU, the reader, for joining me on this crazy journey. 

*Last, but not least, my husband, who hasn't had a day go by without hearing me talk about this for two weeks. Thank you for believing in me, giving me the courage to make this dream a reality. 

Survivor Sessions – Part 1: The Inspiration

Two weeks ago, I put out a post on my Facebook and Instagram for models. One of the models I was looking for was an “inspirational woman (any level of wisdom)”. When Sue shared with me a story of her friend, I just knew this was the woman I wanted to build a photo shoot around. This was originally supposed to be just a quick session to create a specific photo I had in my head, but after reading Sue’s comments I had to dig deeper. I was truly inspired and wanted to create more than a photo, but a full experience her friend would never forget.

A True Fighter

Cindy, our nominee, has already inspired me to take this project to the next level. A resident of the city of Flint, she was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2006. A single mother of two, she cried for 24 hours. After gathering her strength, she made the choices needed in order to continue to support her family. She beat it!

Cindy married her soulmate, Mark, on 9-9-09, but the honeymoon period was cut short. It happened again, and again. Beating cancer once is a great feat, but to have beaten it three times is amazing. Her grandmother would say that you have to laugh to keep from crying (something I personally live by). The beauty of this is that the more you smile the more you truly believe in happiness, but after all she's been through, the joy Cindy emanates is that much more breathtaking. Her personal strength and the beautiful life giving support of her friends and family leaves me in awe.

After having close to 20 surgeries plus other related medical procedures, Cindy decided it was time to start writing a book about all the madness she's been through. Unfortunately, after being “cancer free” for five years, she was yet again faced by her doctor explaining she had breast cancer. This time it had metastasized to her sinuses, an extremely rare occurrence, making her the first patient in Flint, MI with this condition. This time she faced it head on. She had beaten it before. Why not again?!

Celebrating Life

This is when I was introduced. Cindy had just completed radiation treatment and was preparing to start chemo during her fourth fight. True, this may not be when fighters feel their most beautiful, but this is when they need the most support. After hearing Cindy’s story, listening to the joy and optimism in her voice, and seeing a picture of her facing her fears, I truly believe she is beautiful inside and out.

Cindy’s story spoke personally to me, as I want to honor the members my family struck by cancer. I especially want to honor my Auntie B. who has won multiple fights with breast cancer (though I’m jealous of the sunny skies she enjoys). Her warrior spirit reminds me to live life with Aloha. Also, my father who fought hard but passed of an undetermined cancer, was a free spirit who reminded me that sometimes the most rewarding work is done with your hands, live your passion and carve your own path. I reflect on their bravery every day.  May we all be so blessed to have heroes in our lives.

Sue and Cindy at the Flint Zombie Walk
Sue & Cindy at the Annual Flint Zombie Walk

Cindy and Mark's wedding day
Cindy & Mark, married 9-9-09

Cindy and the Radiation Mask
Cindy facing down her radiation mask for the last time. (Or as she put it, "The Silence of the Lambs Mask")