This is how it went
A young woman and mother recently reached out to me to collaborate on a visual story. I was moved when she told me her son was recently diagnosed with Autism and that she participates in modeling as a sort of emotional therapy to help her get through this new challenge life change. Not a model by day, she finds the process of sourcing clothing pieces to shoot in, and therefore styling the shoot to be very therapeutic. I'm not sure she wants her story known, but that is the backstory to the visual project found at the Dropbox link below.
Dani Rodriguez, the model, has agreed to have her story known and included even more in response to me asking her permission. Please feel free to include as much as you like. Below is her additional contribution:
I was tearing up as I was reading your email to Girls Mag. Thank you so much for your inspiring and kind words they mean more than you will ever know! I am so thankful to you for letting me share my story bout my son and his diagnosis and my ways with coping and healing! You are my photographer saint ❤️
As far as my back story,
When I found out my son was diagnosed with autism I was completely heart broken but relieved. It finally had a name and explained his behaviors and regressions. Some of the main symptoms my son had were: he was non verbal, had many sensory issues with sounds, lights, textures and he had self injury tendencies. The doctors told me most likely he wouldn't speak and he would live his life completely dependent on us. I couldn't take that as a result. My goal in life was clear, I was going to do everything I could in my power to ensure he would be self sufficient so that he could be self independent.
I would spend endless days and nights researching and finding my self wanting to know everything bout Autism.
I would have many mini sessions in my home teaching him to sign. I craved to communicate with him. Just once I wanted to see him understand when I told him "I love you".
Everyday was, and still is, a challenge. Doing all this by myself (my husband was working overseas at that time) was mentally and physically exhausting. I was being consumed by feelings hopelessness, sadness and frustration. I needed to find a way to cope so that I can be the mother and the teacher he needs.
Then one day my photographer friend asked me to model for a fashion casting for her portfolio. She figured it would be a good way to decompress and find myself again. I was initially nervous but early in the shoot I felt a metaphorisis happening inside of me. During the shoot I felt like all my stress was washed away. It was just me and camera. Thus began my passion for fashion, photography. With in the year, month after month I would seek model castings and generous TFP shoots allowing me to be published in many fashion publications including photo vogue!
Overall modeling allows me to transform into anything I want, escaping anything I worried over my son which is very therapeutic for me! He really is my muse and inspiration!
Shooting with Ashley for this set was amazing, Ashley allowed me to open up about why I love to model and how it makes me feel, something about Ashley is comforting, and very consoling!
I shared with her that bout 5 months ago my son called me "mama" for the first time! Those words mean the world to me! And the chance to share my story means even more! I thank you so much Ashley & Girls Mag!