It all started in middle school. Every birthday and every Christmas, I would ask for a camera. Photography quickly became my creative outlet, a response to the beauty around me, a way that I could relate to the world and express myself. Every day, I would take my camera to school, and when people weren’t around, I would set up still-life photo-shoots in my room with lamps and whatever I could find.

In high school, Dottie White, who was 60 years my senior, became my mentor. An avid photographer and lively woman, Dottie had a head full of thick, white hair and dark skin from years of living in Panama. She had the best stories and wore a huge grin and decorative necklaces. Even in her 80’s, she enjoyed conversation and could always be found out and about, walking or volunteering.

Dottie was always encouraging me in my photography, letting me borrow photo books, and showing me her old film prints from when she lived in Panama. When I decided I wanted to pursue photography, she helped me look into different programs and majors, leading me in the right direction and giving me the confidence of someone who had gone before me.

In 2010, I received my degree in photography and launched my business. I’ve been shooting professionally for seven years now. I take my work seriously and realize the weight of trusting someone to photograph such important events in life. I consider it an incredible honor.

When I got married, Dottie was there. My last memory with her is going through my wedding album together that next year. With joy and pure delight, she looked at each page, and when we got to the end of the album, she wanted to go through it again. Dottie is no longer with us now, but I will always remember the power of her words and insight: "You know, I think photographs help us realize how beautiful the world is. Because sometimes, we seem to forget."

Rachel's work has been featured on Southern Living, Southern Weddings, Style Me Pretty, Grey Likes WeddingsBorrowed & BlueClassic Bride, The Lovely FindAshley's Bride Guide, Coastal Bride, Hoasting & Toasting and more.

 

Photo by Kristin Sweeting

Photo by Kristin Sweeting