rebecca | healing

I’ve thought about this blog post for a long time. I knew that when I started my blog it would be one of the first sessions I went back to, but the words are tough to find.

Rebecca was one of the first juniors that applied to be on my model team.  She was class of 2018, and when I read her application I was all over it. Lots of great extra-curriculars, well-spoken, large social media presence, and not to mention — absolutely gorgeous with great style. The whole freakin’ package, y’all. The first time we met in person I had on a band t-shirt and she asked me if I had seen them live and if I’d heard their new album, and y’all know how I am about my music so that hooked me even more. I knew we were going to hit it off, and we seriously did. I fell in love with her mom, too. All kinds of vibes.

Rebecca eventually started assisting me with sessions and we got to spend a bunch of time together – I really got to know her… You know how some folks just seem to have it all together? This girl is gorgeous and popular and she has a plan for her future and has the whole world in her hands… So when she talked to me about her plans for this photo session I was just completely taken aback.

I was at the school for an event and she came up to me and gave me a hug — “I”m getting a tattoo when I turn 18 and I want to do a photo session.” Okay? That sounds fun! Tell me about it. “Well it’s going to go on my thigh because of some scars that I have…” Right there in the gym my heart just sank. I knew exactly what she was telling me, and I knew we weren’t really in the right place to talk about it, but I just gave her a knowing look with tears in my eyes and said “100% – I’m in.”

Within a few days I had chatted with her mom and set a date, but I really wanted Rebecca to give me some insight on what she was feeling and what was going to be best for her throughout this process. After assisting me on one of my senior sessions, we sat down in my office and she opened up about it. I know I cried (because, hello – I’m me), but I’m pretty sure we both did. She walked me through her whole story and gave me a lot of free reign on concept – she just wanted to make sure the focus was on the scars themselves and that she really didn’t want them to be hidden. She had plans to share the photographs online with her friends and tell her story to encourage others to be brave too. She was ready. I felt incredibly honored to be a part of it all.

During the session I’m pretty sure all of us cried at one point or another. Me (obviously), her mom, her… It was a very emotional experience and it was very healing for Rebecca – and her mother too, I’m sure.

The photographs turned out beautiful. Truly – stunning. We put together a gorgeous canvas with a favorite quote of hers to hang in her room to remind her of where she has been, and I created an album for her which turned out beautiful as well.

Thank you, Rebecca and Regina for including me in this. Thank you for trusting me with such a huge moment and with your story. Thank you for letting me share your story and for your hugs and tears and love.

I could not be any more thankful for this job that I call mine. The people I get to meet and the beauty I get to capture is so special, and I don’t take a single moment for granted.

Below, I’ve included Rebecca’s words from her social media posts. I feel like her story is hers to tell and I wanted it to come from her.


Tattoo Artist: Kirk George of Black 13 Tattoo

“If you know me, you know I’ve put roses on my phone, my paintings, my bookshelf, my walls, and now my leg.  Roses have become such a huge symbol in my life.  A rose is a beautiful flower, but before it can be admired, it must grow from the ground up, rising from the dirt until it’s time to bloom.  The rose holds symbolism to me that is similar to just that.  

Starting in sixth grade, I struggled with my mental health.  Throughout middle school I became my biggest enemy, and my worst critic.  The depression felt overwhelming, like I had no control over my own life.  My heart was heavy and I coped with self-harm.  I knew it wasn’t rational, but it made me feel like I finally had some sort of control over how I felt.  

I battled this for about a year and a half while keeping it a secret before I reached the lowest point where I knew I needed help.  Eventually I mustered up the courage to turn to family.  I began to physically heal, but it was much harder to mentally heal.  For a long time, I resented my scars, willing to do anything to erase them from my body.  They served as a constant reminder to me of what I had been through.  

However, in this past year I’ve learned to love myself with my scars.  I recognize they have made me who I am today, even though they came from rock bottom.  I wouldn’t be the Rebecca I am today without the difficulties God laid in front of me.  

Looking back on it all, I questioned God, but now I know I wouldn’t have made it through without Him.  Even if I don’t understand it, I know God is using all of this to write the story he has planned for me.  

So that’s why I have these three roses on my leg for the rest of my life.  My beautiful roses root from my nasty scars. My admirable symbol roots from my imperfect reminders.  Now when I look down at my legs, I see something worth smiling about.  I see something absolutely beautiful coming out of something bad.”  



  1. Emily says:

    So freaking inspiring! What you ladies created here is 100% pure and beautiful! Thank you for sharing Rebecca’s story. You have such a gift finding true beauty in every single photo you take and then to share the story behind the photos is deeply moving. Much love!

    • Shelby Andal says:

      <3 Love you! Thank you for your kind words. Rebecca is SO brave to share her story and I'm thankful she chose to share it with me.

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