Portraits are one of our few possessions that become priceless as time marches on, while so much of what we accumulate through life ends up stuffed into closets or dumped into Goodwill bins. Sometimes portraits become all we have to hold onto when the fragile balance between life and death separates us from those we love most in life.
Rachel commissioned me to record her story, in portraits with her family, so she was stamped in history for all who love her. And with the laughter that spills so easily from her, it’s easy to see that list of people must be very long.
“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”
— Ralph Hattersley
Rachel just turned 40, a milestone to mark for anyone, but this was monumental for her to reach and to record. She’s battled an internal dialogue that whispered/shouted, that she would never see 40. Rachel lost her mom when she was 5 years old and her mom was just 38, to breast cancer. Then just 3 years later, she lost her dad at 40 to a brain tumor. Her dad had been a photographer, so she understands the value of the recorded image. This photo of her parents has a permanent spot on her dresser as a reminder for the love she lost and the fragility of this life.
Rachel knows the inner demons she’s battled her whole have poured fear into her psyche that has lodged itself tightly, despite her best efforts to dismiss it. She didn’t like the fearful and anxious mix that plagued her, so she set on a course to strengthen her inner-self. She’s doing that through a program called 75 Hard designed to develop mental toughness and fitness.
Rachel is fully committed to this program which will encompass her entire 40th year of life. Just a few of the elements involve exercising 45 minutes, 2x a day, at least one of the times outside, drinking a gallon of water a day, reading non fiction daily and following a diet with no cheat days. When I met her she had just finished her first 75 day segment. She was about to add a few new pieces to her daily training: taking a 5 minute cold shower, 8 minute critical power to do list accomplished daily and 10 minutes of dedicated visualization/prayer.
The time in the 75 Hard program has helped Rachel to learn to sit with the uncomfortable feelings and learn to manage them rather than defaulting to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Rachel adores her family of two daughters, Kaitlyn and Hannah and her husband Jason. It was vitally important to her to lock down time with them in portrait so they’d always have this treasured possession should they not one day have their mama.
Kaitlyn is in 6th grade and a fierce competitor on the soccer fields. Her creativity and quick mind mean she’s pondering something just about all the time. But her outgoing personality keeps her engaged in life and making the world a brighter place to be.
Hannah is Rachel’s little Irish dancer who is in the 4th grade and loves reading and animals. She can be counted on to supply the family with funny one liners and her wit will keep you guessing at every turn. At 5 she was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy which has been confounding at times. She was hospitalized at Hopkins 3 or 4 times at the start of Covid, exasperating an already challenging time. Rachel is thankful for the docs who were able to get her medications straightened out, which resulted in much better control of the seizures. She has currently been seizure free for a year.
Rachel is a pre-school teacher and is passionate about education and children. Prior to having her own children, her work was her all in all. Since having her own she’s figured out the balance to pour into her students but still have energy and time left for her girls and Jason. She realizes at work she’s replaceable but not at home.
Jason was in support of Rachel’s dream to have this Unveil your Cinderella experience for herself and her family. He’s cheering her on each step of the journey and these two have built a beautiful little life together. Their girls are blessed to be raised under such a loving partnership from their mother and father. They have set the bar high and it’s a lovely thing to behold.
Their last romantic portraits were their wedding day, so we fixed that for them!
The memories we make while creating portraits is just as important as the pieces we create. The Murphy’s laughed together, a lot, during their portrait time. And while we all love the intimacy and joy that’s beaming from below…
we equally love their take on the more serious, “Real Murphys of Carroll County” as we have dubbed it! Tune in Saturday night to see the next installment of “Keeping up with the Murphys”, if you prefer that one!;)
Kaitlyn grabbed glasses from the styling center and started voguing for the lens as we were wrapping…all I could think was, holy cow, she looks almost like one of my JDP seniors standing in front of me!
Murphy’s you were a delight to create for. Rachel, you know the fragility of life offers none of us guarantees. I pray you are looking over these portraits with your great grandchildren one day, sharing your story again in a way that makes you smile widely! Click here to contact us re your own custom portraits.