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Phenomenal Woman

I had the opportunity to capture this young lady for a school project. The project centered around limb loss awareness, and this would be her first time being capture without her prosthetic arm since she was 17. I am so filled with emotions after working with Maya! Her confidence, strength and joy truly touched me in a way that no one has during a session in a very long time.

Leading up to our session, Maya had sent me a photo of mine taken months ago that she had fallen in love with to recreate. I was super excited. When I initially read her post in search of a photographer after being tagged by a good friend of mine, Kyla, I knew that I wanted to work with her. One thing about me is I love giving back. In any form I can. I knew this project had meaning. For both Maya and the community. Well this project, in all actuality, was meaningful to the world. I went over how I wanted her to look a thousands times, and when Maya sent me her inspo photo, I knew we were a perfect fit. She sent a simple elegant head shot of a women in a dark room dimly lit and the other was an outdoor lifestyle photo with shadows galore. Needless to so, I was antsy. I was eager to have fun and get to know Maya just a little bit.

When Maya arrived at the studio, I was stuck for a moment. Her beauty was pretty unfathomable. We embraced with a hug and she went to get ready as I prepared myself to stop fangirling. lol

We starting shooting and from the start, we were able to achieve exactly what we both had envisioned. This young lady was confident and strong, poised and graceful. I wanted her photographs to exude that upon viewing. I was able to talk with Maya and we shared a ton of laughs. Mostly her cracking up at me being silly, but I captured it all. I left the studio extremely full. Of emotions and thought, and after Maya shared the image of herself along with the following message, it was evident that I was not alone. She had touched so many in her 26 years of life and I look forward to fangirling over Maya as she continues to break barriers and excel.

I wanted to share with you all Maya's story:

"April is Limb Loss Awareness Month and I couldn't let it pass by without sharing this beautiful photo Rina Starr took of me for my class project. It is the first photo of me I've ever published without my prosthetic on. In 2011 I had my amputation done as a last ditch effort to get rid of the cancer that was hell-bent on getting rid of me. I was all but dragged into that operating room in October because I thought life without my arm would be unbearable at a minimum. I cried, I pleaded and begged God or anyone who would listen for a different lot, a different life. I asked my parents to cover all of the mirrors in my childhood home and swore I'd never leave the house, never love myself or accept love in return. In my mind, I was disfigured and no longer beautiful because there was no way to conflate the two. Today at 26, if I could tell my 17-year-old self anything it would be, "your life isn't over". I'd tell her that there would be really good days and really really bad days but eventually, with a lot of work self-hate would become self-love and self-pity would become determination. There are days where it feels like my body is failing me all over again but there are the same amount of days where I'm able to pull strength from God knows where and do things I'd never thought I'd be capable of doing, let alone with both arms. So today, I stand in my truth, authentically me, and look forward to what comes next. "

Thank you Maya Moore! Your a Phenomenal Women.

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