Portraits of FiFi

A Breast Removal Journey

My Darling Deb, your courage and bravery to be seen just as you are, to showcase your body with such honesty and strength, will inspire other women to embrace their own journeys with the same fearless spirit.

As women, how we see ourselves directly impacts the value we place on ourselves. When we fault and judge what’s in the mirror, we shrink and don’t shine. But my lovelies, my beautiful Queens, I’m here to show you differently.

Let me introduce you to Deb G. In 2007, advocating for herself and her health, with a family history of breast cancer, Deb pushed for yearly screenings. Deb was only 44 and under the suggested screening age for mammograms that insurance covered at the time. It was followed by the dreaded call to come back for a more detailed look. Words from the voice on the other end of the phone like "you’re young and fit" did little to assuage the feeling in her gut.

At some level, it was the news that she knew would come but was not prepared for. Something was there. A biopsy would need to be done. The poster in the room showed a perfectly pert rounded breast with a small bandaid on the side. When the multiple spot biopsies were done, it was way more than a perfectly placed bandaid. The biopsy confirmed cancer. A lumpectomy was not an option. It would be a mastectomy. While there was only one breast affected, Deb decided on a double mastectomy to reduce her risk in the future. Against her initial thoughts and gut reaction, Deb was talked into implants and reconstructive surgery by her surgeon that would be made possible by expanders (a type of implant that is gradually expanded using saline to stretch the skin).

Deb woke from the expander surgery and told the nurse something was wrong. Fevers, pain, and extreme swelling all concreted what Deb knew. The expanders had to come out. After fighting insurance and doctors, Deb had a second full mastectomy to remove the excess skin from the expanders. Once the expanders were removed, Deb made a full physical recovery.

The same week of the surgery wasn’t the only new thing for Deb. As she started a new life without breasts, she moved to a new home, ran for public office, and became an ambassador for a cancer organization. She embraced her new life and all that came with it. As she states, "My journey is far from over."

Deb asked me if I would document a piece of her post-surgery journey, and I was so honored to be selected to photograph something so incredibly personal and meaningful.  

Now, a shoot at the studio isn’t your typical shoot. We meet prior to discussing visions, themes, and goals. The day of is a full experience. The vision board is posted. Full hair and makeup are done by the marvelous house esthetician Mary Smith of The Esti Method. Music pumps from a curated playlist based on the client's taste, and there are food and drinks to keep our girls nourished and hydrated.  We are fully complete with the best hype girl and fluffer this side of the Mississippi too.  It’s become a retreat for the day for so many women and we love it!!

Ya’ll, the camera loved this woman. She transitioned from soft and feminine to a leather-booted badass, back to fluff and frills. She sat with all the poise and confidence of a seasoned model while I stood behind the camera and clicked pictures of her as she vulnerably shared her transformed body. No breasts. No curves. Only some slight lines where the incisions were made. Deb was bold, brave, and beautiful. The shoot was wrapped with all the feels that we had just witnessed something so significantly beautiful my team was just touched by the experience of uplifting a Queen who was ready to share her story… and ready to be unapologetically seen. With that, Deb packed her items and went home to await the reveal of her fine-art portrait images.

There is a little side story unrelated to the shoot itself, but it very much involves Deb and our initial consult meeting. On the day of our initial meeting, my studio had just been freshly painted, so the furniture was in utter disarray. I need glasses to drive, especially at night. Upon my arrival in the studio of disarray, I placed my glasses on a table, met with Deb, and we talked all things about her journey, her why, and her readiness to be seen. It was an incredible meeting. She left, and I was right behind her. I couldn't find my glasses anywhere. I thought they must have been lost in the chaos of furniture. Being a mom, I had to get my boy to Scouts in another town, so I did what any mom would do: I got in the car and headed home to get my boy. And let me tell you, the lights from the cars and street lights were like fireworks heading right for me. So I drove like an 80-year-old queen at the high speed of 30 miles an hour, laughing at myself the whole way home. Upon arriving home, I got a message from Deb saying, “I think I have your glasses.” Now, there is a reason for this share. I laugh about this moment every time I see Deb or hear her name. She returned my glasses on the day of the shoot. After our shoot time was complete, and I found myself driving home, I wondered how Deb would see herself in her pictures. Glasses, camera lens—similar in some ways. Would she see herself through the same lens as I did at her portrait reveal? Would she know that her choices meant bravery, boldness, and beauty and that she would so deeply inspire others?

Deb's story is a powerful testament to the strength and resilience that define so many women. Her choice to embrace life after the removal of her breast is a profound reminder that our values and femininity are not diminished by our physical changes. Through her journey, she has shown that true beauty and strength come from within. In our Portraits of FiFi series, Deb shines in the extraordinary gown, FiFi, embodying elegance and courage. Her images in FiFi are not just portraits—they are celebrations of her bravery and an inspiration to all women to embrace their stories with pride and confidence.

As a feminine portrait photographer, I ask the women I shoot to trust me with their most intimate moments and see themselves through a different lens. I would be honored to help you see the beauty in every curve or lack of curve. Reach out to me. I will meet you at the door with a smile and, “Hello, darling.” And if you need my glasses, I now keep a backup pair.

Featured Image Gallery

Hello but at the time of Deb's shoot, she was just shy of the 60-year mark. I mean my GAWDDDDD, she is without question a Queen. It was hard to narrow down the selection to showcase in this blog.... but here we go!! Just wait to be in awe of this Queen of inspiration.

Portrait session by Shira W. Rose Studios

Hair & Makeup by The Estimethod

Portrait Assist by Susan Groce Newnam

Video By Tracey DeLeon

** I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Shannon George for her invaluable assistance in crafting this story. Her talent and dedication helped bring Deb's inspiring journey to life through these words.

Portraits of FiFi

Introducing the Portraits of FiFi series. FiFi, an exquisite gown in my Feminine Portrait studio, has become a catalyst for women to share their transformative journeys. Each story showcases real women finding empowerment and confidence through their time with FiFi.

Follow FiFi on Instagram @PortraitsOfFiFi to stay connected with these inspiring stories and see the latest transformations!

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Shira W Rose

Specializing in elegant Boudoir, Maternity, and Fine-Art Beauty photography, Shira W Rose is a compassionate Feminine Portrait Photographer based in Raleigh Durham, NC, With a profound understanding of the complexities of life's journey, Shira creates a nurturing space where individuals can express themselves authentically. Whether celebrating milestones or embracing moments of reflection, she approaches each session with sensitivity and empathy, honoring the unique stories and experiences of her clients.

Let's Connect

For every woman who wants to feel beautiful, reconnect with their confidence, and reacquaint themselves with that certain sparkle that makes them feel beautiful, I want to be your photographer. I invite you to a personal session with me. It's a step towards the SELF-LOVE REVOLUTION... and I promise, it will change the way you see yourself.

Looking so forward to connecting with you!

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