Sometimes my profession takes me to some really interesting places and sometimes I get to meet some really amazing women. Jessica Seburn is one of these beautiful souls that popped into my life earlier this year, first as part of my Style Off, then later in her Kittens, Lazers, and Glitter shoot. After spending some time with her, I knew she had been going through a very emotional year and a few weeks ago, I got a Facebook message from Jessica advising me that someone whom Jessica is extremely close with had just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Now, Jessica’s message was not one looking for pity or solace, but rather it came through in defiance….like a fuck you to cancer (which I am sure we can all agree on.). She asked if I would be up to shooting her going through the very personal, emotional experience of having her hair cut extremely short in an act of support. Despite having an already busy calendar, I made sure to make time for this. These are the sessions that make me realize why I do what I do. So, with the help of Jessica’s best friends Breeann & Kelly, we trotted out to the Red River Floodway (chosen for its openness and relatively quiet space) and thus began the act of documenting Jessica’s act of support. As you look through the pictures, you will see many emotions: laughter, fear, sadness, confidence, peacefulness, and reflection. At the end, you will see what Jessica had to say about her whole experience and see a little video that highlights the evening.
“The moment the idea occurred to me to cut my hair in support of a friend with cancer, I knew I couldn’t rest until I did it. Teri was the first person I told when I decided, I knew that she would be on board, and I knew she would handle it with grace, understanding, and support. I knew it would be a difficult day for me, I can’t deny the fact that parting with something I deemed so important to my beauty scared me. I was also afraid to show such raw emotion to the camera. I had this idea in my head that with my hair gone, I wouldn’t be pretty, and I would just have to grin and bare it until it grew back. I wanted my loved one to know that she is loved and supported, and cutting my hair felt like the absolute least I could do to show that.
As soon as I sat down for the hair cut, Teri was seemingly everywhere at once, capturing candid, personal moments. She never once felt intrusive on my experience, and in fact, I can’t imagine going through that without her now. The haircut took awhile and she refused to take a break during it, I felt in every moment, in every photograph, she and I were connecting and she wanted to capture every moment FOR ME. The selflessness that Teri showed (and has shown in the past) chokes me up every time I think of it.
I had no idea what I looked like during the photoshoot, I trusted Teri when she told me how beautiful I looked. I was worried that the whole event would seem very somber, that’s not what I wanted, I wanted it to be a representation of the joy and pain I’ve experienced lately. Teri managed to not only capture that, but the miniscule emotions and different vibes I was experiencing. She helped me to relax, and helped me approach my emotions by gently asking me questions, and asking me to reflect on the things that lay beneath the surface.
This whole experience, while based on pain and tragedy, helped me feel empowered. I felt safe in revealing the vulnerable parts of me, I knew I was in good, caring, capable hands with Teri.