PTSD Empowerment | Constance: My Story

• June 24th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

I have begun a new series in the studio called PTSD Empowerment. (PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.) As someone who has been directly affected by PTSD, I believe there needs to be more attention and insight brought to the public. Depression, anxiety, emotional distancing, nightmares, flashbacks, memory problems, trust issues and isolation are just a few of the problems people face. And so many think that PTSD is only for military veterans, which is so false. PTSD can affect anyone who experiences a trauma. It can last for months, years or even a lifetime. This series explores the highs and lows of PTSD and gives my clients a physical, tangible, concert way to express what they feel, from their trauma through their ongoing recovery. It is not my place to share their story from my perspective, so I will be allowing them to share it from theirs. Here is one of my clients words and her story as well as her images we have created and chosen to share with you.

Hello. I am Constance. I am a Christian, a mother, a friend, a massage therapist and have beautiful aspirations similar to all of you. I, as well, have PTSD. A disease that affects my life in all aspects everyday.

I wanted to do this session with Devon; although it was a scary idea to unveil my imperfections. But I wanted to help and bring awareness to those that may not understand PTSD and to empower those that are ashamed. It’s ok to say it out loud or in a picture.

I have had many experiences of death in my life that slowly brought me to this point. My little brother, who had autism, was severely burned from the neck down. I fought by his side for months, I slept in chairs waiting rooms and prayed endlessly. He passed away in my arms after his valiant fight and a piece of me chipped away. Yet still I had to keep my smile and mind together, because who has the time to breakdown when you have two kids under 5, right? Then my best friend and godmother of my children developed an addiction. I loved this woman as my sister. I fought with her often and prayed with her. Then, I got a phone call from a detective and I needed to get her things. She was no longer here to fight, talk to or pray for. But again, I had no time to process her death or breakdown as I now had a husband and five children.

Then unexpectedly, my husband my protector the father of my child passed away suddenly in my home. His last breath was mine as I administered CPR. I was helpless, this death finally broke me. My PTSD was here and present, paralyzing and could not be ignored any longer. I sought help because I had no choice. I could not be a mom,a friend and even an advocate for myself I was mentally dying. I sought God and counseling. With those things came medications everyone is so ashamed of talking about. Which by the way, I was ashamed too, and had to learn to deal with that shame. I eventually got myself a career as massage therapist helping others with their physical pain.

That was 2014. Now in 2020, my stepson was killed by a driver under the influence of drugs and my mind triggered once again. But, through my past traumas, I have learned the tools to help myself the best I can. My images in the photos are what I felt inside. Chained up, balled up weighed down. Pulling my hair in despair, the anxiety and fear for my loved ones that are here and can be gone in a split second. Shame that I can’t keep it together. Silenced with duck tape because no one wants to hear it anymore.

Devon captured it all so well. The photo of me holding my kids was inspiration and such a perfect example of what made me fight so hard. God was and is my anchor. I wanted to make sure we included that in my story.

Becoming a massage therapist allowed me to bring healing to others, which in turn helped me to find and seek my own healing.

I want everyone to know that this is real. That the shame is unwarranted. I want people to know that it’s not simply getting over it, it is a daily struggle. And if you don’t understand the disease, it’s okay to ask. We are not just complaining, we physically and mentally are changed. Please excuse our moody times, anger, depression, our unexplained crying, our fake smiles. We are on a journey of healing. This photo shoot was a piece of that healing. And I hope by stepping out it will help yours  too. God bless you, for I am with you and you are not alone. 

Signs to Remember | Creative Chaos

• May 25th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

So here I am sitting at my desk, about to start my anatomy homework… today is no different than any other day I sit at my desk to work or do schoolwork, but today was just hard. Looking at my two little boys and thinking, “am I ever going to be able to take them to a playground to play? Will Bradley be able to start preschool? Will we be able to go on that road trip to see my husband’s family 1,300 miles away? Will my mom get to meet Andrew?” These questions, and more were running through my head today. I have several signs on my desk that I’ve surrounded myself with that remind me on days like this that “This too shall pass”. So I’m not sure which one of you need to hear this today, but I sure did.

Sign #1: “Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go” – As a species, we have made it through, the plague, the flu, swine flu, and so many other terrifying diseases. Technology has come so far and we will find a treatment. We have made progress and know more about Covid, as terrifying as it is. We will get through this.

Sign #2 – “Let your faith be bigger than your fear” – Everyone has different beliefs, but my faith will carry me through this, I need to focus on the bigger picture, instead of being scared of the what-if’s.

Sign #3 – “Too blessed to be stressed” – Yep… This is true, I am very fortunate in these hard times, my husband and children are home with me and are happy. When today being Memorial Day, so many families aren’t as fortunate… My thoughts and prayers are with those families, and remind me to be thankful for what I have and hug my family a little tighter today.

So while this morning has been hard. We all have hard days, we all have sad days, but like my last two signs say… “if it is to be, it is up to me.” (Thanks Dad for the 2 letter word idiom) and “girl, you’ve got this”.

All of these speak so true, we just need to remember… this too shall pass. So hang in there… You’ve got this.

Senior Class of 2020 | Christian

• May 20th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

The class of 2020 really lost so much this year. The prom, the senior trips, spring sports, time with friends, graduations and so much more. It is heartbreaking for them and for their families. At Devon Shanor Photography we are working hard to show them support and love. One thing we are doing is sharing their Cashtags through Cashapp. Through this app you can send them a little congratulatory gift. (What 17 or 18 year old doesn’t love some money at graduation???) If you could, let’s flood them with some hope and a tiny bit of joy in these unfair moments!

Our featured Senior this week is Christian. He attends Hickory High School in Chesapeake. He’s a quiet guy but loved his metal music! Like many senior guys he wasn’t super excited about senior portraits but did them for mom. 🙂 We are so happy that he was able to do them before mom deployed too. She’s been away during much of his Senior year but getting to experience his senior portraits with him with such a blessing for her!

Christian is still exploring his options after high school. He’s looking into trade school for possibly welding or electrical (let’s hear it for trade schools!) I think he’s ready to start adulting and be done with school! Help Christian feel celebrated and send him some love via CashApp at $Chutt12 Let’s celebrate this 2020 Senior!

Schedule? What’s That? | Creative Chaos

• May 20th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

If you’re anything like me, the work/student – stay at home mom… two littles and an active duty husband who’s schedule changes by the minute… a schedule at home is well… close to impossible.

Especially with all of this COVID chaos going on right now, the schedule I used to have is now null and void. I’m just saying… mom’s, dad’s, caregivers and anybody in between… give yourself some grace. These are not normal times or normal circumstances. Yes, structure is good, and yes, I intend on working on creating a schedule for our house because I need it, my children need it.

But you know what? I’m not going to beat myself up because of the late bedtimes, missed naps, spaghetti-o dinner, chores can wait days… Because those are the days I… put the beds late because we decided to have an impromptu family movie night because daddy found out he didn’t have to work the next morning… missed a nap because nobody slept well and when they finally did sleep, woke up late… spaghetti-o dinner because daddy had to work and mommy had exhausted kids or that day we should have done chores but spent the day bowling, racing, and having a monster truck show in our living room….

Don’t feel bad for doing your best in hard times. You are a wonderful mom, dad, person and everything in between…. You’ve got this.

Let’s make this week better than the last. <3

Senior Class of 2020 | Carson

• May 12th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

I have been honored to photograph so many Class of 2020 high school seniors this year. Sadly their senior year came to an abrupt halt in March with COVID-19. Schools were canceled as well as so many special moments; proms, class trips, senior activities, graduation parties and more. It’s unfair and sad. These are moments they won’t get back.

I think it’s so important to still show the class of 2020 some love right now. Learning that life isn’t always fair is HARD. And being stripped of so much WHILE having to stay home, leave your jobs, stop your athletics and programs and have no in person interaction with your friends really hurts. So, here’s how I’m going to try to help!

I am going to be doing a feature on each of my 2020 Seniors. Introduce them a bit and show off their beautiful Senior Portraits. Then I’ll include their $cashtag through Cashapp so you can send them a little gift. (What 17 or 18 year old doesn’t love some money at graduation???) Could you spare $5-20 to say you are standing with them? Include the note “Congrats graduate of 2020!” so they know it came from this post and what it’s for. Let’s flood them with some hope and a tiny bit of joy in these unfair moments!

Our Senior this week we are highlighting is Carson from Cox High School. He’s a bit of a shy young man, but he was so much fun to work with and went along with all my crazy ideas! He even climbed a tree for me! The beach is a family favorite so we had to make sure some pier portraits were included!

Carson is heading to ODU in the fall which I know makes his momma happy! I’m excited to see how well he does as a new freshman. Help me celebrate his accomplishments. Hi Cashapp is $CarsonJohnson13 if you’d like to send him some love and congratulations.

Phenomenal Moms | How I spent my Mother’s Day

• May 11th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

Yes I worked on Mother’s Day. My church, Freedom Fellowship, and I have done family portraits on Mother’s Day for the past 8 years or so. It has become a traditional so many of us look forward to each year! It might only be a few minutes and you might only get 3-4 images, but even just ONE beautiful portrait is such a gift to us moms.

We have some phenomenal women in our church and such wonderful examples of motherhood! We have single moms doing this all on their own without any support from their children’s fathers. We have mothers who have lost their husband and have been thrust into single motherhood unexpectedly. We have mothers who never got to hold their babies but are still mothers to heavenly children. We have mothers who are without biological children but have many spiritual children who look to them for advice and guidance. We have mothers who never birthed their children but choose to love a child born from another as their own. We have mothers who chose adoption for their children and have sacrificed knowing their children call another woman mom. We have mothers who struggled for years and needed the help of science to help them bring their children into the world. We have mothers whose children have emotionally cut them off, who mother now through their prayers, praying their children will reach out. We have mothers who’s children have passed away and who have a very difficult time “celebrating” Mother’s Day. We have grandmothers who fill the role as mom. We have military mother’s who are celebrating being a mom while deployed across the world away from their children.

Motherhood takes on very different roles for different women. Mother’s Day might have passed but take time to recognize ALL the different mothers in your life, in your neighborhood and at your job. Don’t forget to celebrate their motherhood journey as well!

Please take a look at some of the amazing mom’s I was able to photograph yesterday. I can’t post them all as we had such a great turn out for our “Drive-Thru” Mothers day portraits. (We had a line of cars in the parking lot social distancing and waiting their turn to get out of their car!) This is just a snapshot of the phenomenal moms of my church. Such a blessing to know and photograph them!

This beautiful momma celebrating the 14th Mother’s Day without the child she never got to hold.
The amazing Pastors, Rick and Diana, from Freedom Fellowship
New momma!

Happy Mother’s Day!|Creative Chaos

• May 10th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful mother’s out there. Whether you’re a biological mom, adoptive mom, soon-to-be mom, grand-mom, step-mom, all around mother figure and everything in between, I hope you have a beautiful and wonderful day today, and are celebrated for the amazing people you are.

During this quarantine, our patience has been tested! Creativity has a new definition, and time is sometimes irrelevant. Did I do that yesterday morning? Or this morning? Wait, it’s only 3:00, it’s not bed time yet? I hear you. I’ve been there, but you know what? This too shall pass. Personally, this quarantine has been a beautiful reminder of what mother’s and family are supposed to be all about. We are forced to go back to basics and spend quality time together, get creative, play games, and just be present in the moment.

Today, I am spending my day with my wonderful husband and beautiful boys. Had to get creative because they have been going stir crazy, so I made a tape race track in my living room. We have had race after after race and I’m exhausted and it’s only 1:00. Andrew is down for a nap and Daddy and Bradley are outside playing. Mommy is going to kick back and read a book.

Enjoy this time together, take those few moments for yourself too. You’re beautiful and you deserve it. Happy Mother’s Day! You’ve got this!

Senior Class of 2020 | Emilee

• May 6th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

I have been honored to photograph so many Class of 2020 high school seniors this year. Sadly their senior year came to an abrupt halt in March with COVID-19. Schools were canceled and the class of 2020 was robbed of so many special moments; proms, class trips, senior activities, graduation parties and more. It’s unfair and sad. These are moments they won’t get back.

I think it’s so important to still show the class of 2020 some love right now. Learning that life isn’t always fair is HARD. And being stripped of so much WHILE having to stay home, leave your jobs, stop your athletics and programs and have no in person interaction with your friends really hurts. So, here’s how I’m going to try to help!

I am going to be doing a feature on each of my 2020 Seniors. Introduce them a bit and show off their beautiful Senior Portraits. Then I’ll include their $cashtag through Cashapp so you can send them a little gift. (What 17 or 18 year old doesn’t love some money at graduation???) Could you spare $5-20 to say you are standing with them? Include the note “Congrats graduate of 2020!” so they know it came from this post and what it’s for. Let’s flood them with some hope and a tiny bit of joy in these unfair moments!

The Senior I’d like to introduce today is Emilee. She attended Green Run High School and is an accomplished athlete. She participates in martial arts and softball and wanted to incorporate them into her session.

She also wanted to pay tribute to her late big brother in her session. He has her inspired so much, especially in her work in the martial arts. She asked for me to include him in a few images. The final products are beautiful portraits that show the bond between siblings that not even death could break.

Emilee was a trooper for her session as we dealt with some crazy technical difficulties. She, and her mom, were patient and understanding with me as we worked through some crazy times. I am grateful for the opportunity to showcase her amazing portraits. She’s has been through so much in her life but still finds the joy life offers. It was such a pleasure getting to know her. Enjoy and don’t gorget to send her some love through cash app at $EmileeKinney to tell her you support her during this crazy senior year of quarantine and lockdown.

If you know a high school senior who hasn’t taken their senior portraits, it’s not too late! There is SO much that the class of 2020 is missing this year, don’t let Senior Portraits be one of them. I am gifting the class of 2020 with FREE Portraits. Contact me today to discuss Portraits for your 2020 Senior!

Fine Print: The session is free. There is a $29 cost to book your session but that amount is given back as a credit towards whatever you’d like to purchase. You’ll also be given (on whichever session your choose) an additional $99 credit towards whatever you’d like to purchase. Dates for sessions are from May 1st until July 30th 2020. 

Senior Class of 2020 | Chyanne

• April 28th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

I have been honored to photograph so many Class of 2020 high school seniors this year. Sadly their senior year came to an abrupt halt in March with COVID-19. Schools were canceled and the class of 2020 was robbed of so many special moments; proms, class trips, senior activities, graduation parties and more. It’s unfair and sad. These are moments they won’t get back.

I think it’s so important to still show the class of 2020 some love right now. Learning that life isn’t always fair is HARD. And being stripped of so much WHILE having to stay home, leave your jobs, stop your athletics and programs and have no in person interaction with your friends really hurts. So, here’s how I’m going to try to help!

I am going to be doing a feature on each of my 2020 Seniors. Introduce them a bit and show off their beautiful Senior Portraits. Then I’ll include their $cashtag through Cashapp so you can send them a little gift. (What 17 or 18 year old doesn’t love some money at graduation???) Could you spare $5-20 to say you are standing with them? Include the note “Congrats graduate of 2020!” so they know it came from this post and what it’s for. Let’s flood them with some hope and a tiny bit of joy in these unfair moments!

The Senior I’d like to introduce today is Chyanne. She is graduating from Ocean Lakes High School. She’s a laid back, beautiful young lady who’s favorite hobbies are horseback riding and sleeping. (I love that hobby myself- every chance I get to participate I do!) We didn’t incorporate the horse in this session, but it’s possible for her cap and gown session!

We had a fun session at The Narrows in Virginia Beach. Why wanted to make sure that the fall season was represented in her session. We had to reschedule a few times but the weather finally cooperated! Mom and dad tagged along and we captured some great family portraits as well. (Chyanne is an only child so I think there might be some major empty nesting when she moves out!)

Chyanne is best friends with another of my senior clients and I can’t wait to photograph these two amazing ladies together. We’re planning on doing their cap and gown session at the same time. Capturing your senior year with your BFF and “ride or die” friend is such a fun idea. If you can’t remember many Senior moments without them by your side, why not include them in your senior portraits too?

Please join me as I congratulate Chyanne on her Senior Year. Show her your support as she deals with the loss of so many Senior moments. Her cash app is $chyannew if you can send her a looking something to help lift her spirits!

Thanks Chyanne for trusting me with your senior portraits. I had such a good time getting to know you and your parents better. Everyone else, enjoy some of our favorites from her session!

Awe- look at little Chyanne!

If you know a high school senior who hasn’t taken their senior portraits, it’s not too late! There is SO much that the class of 2020 is missing this year, don’t let Senior Portraits be one of them. I am gifting the class of 2020 with FREE Portraits. Contact me today to discuss Portraits for your 2020 Senior!

Fine Print: The session is free. There is a $29 cost to book your session but that amount is given back as a credit towards whatever you’d like to purchase. You’ll also be given (on whichever session your choose) an additional $99 credit towards whatever you’d like to purchase. Dates for sessions are from May 1st until July 30th 2020. 

Senior Class of 2020 | Ian

• April 24th, 2020 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

I have been honored to photograph so many Class of 2020 high school seniors this year. Sadly their senior year came to an abrupt halt in March with COVID-19. Schools were canceled and the class of 2020 was robbed of so many special moments; proms, class trips, senior activities, graduation parties and more. It’s unfair and sad. These are moments they won’t get back.

I think it’s so important to still show the class of 2020 some love right now. Learning that life isn’t always fair is HARD. And being stripped of so much WHILE having to stay home, leave your jobs, stop your athletics and programs and have no in person interaction with your friends really hurts. So, here’s how I’m going to try to help!

I am going to be doing a feature on each of my 2020 Seniors. Introduce them a bit and show off their beautiful Senior Portraits. Then I’ll include their $cashtag through Cashapp so you can send them a little gift. (What 17 or 18 year old doesn’t love some money at graduation???) Could you spare $5-20 to say you are standing with them? Include the note “Congrats graduate of 2020!” so they know it came from this post and what it’s for. Let’s flood them with some hope and a tiny bit of joy in these unfair moments!

The Senior I’d like to introduce today is Ian. He attended Cox High. I’ve had the please of watching him since middle school as he has wrestled with my son since 6th grade. It’s hard to believe he’s a Senior!

Like many Senior guys, he wasn’t thrilled about Senior portraits. But he loves his momma and did them for her. He’s more a city guy so we skipped the woods and beach and headed to the Neon district in Norfolk. We found some amazing murals and artwork and created some pretty phenomenal senior portraits.

Ian is heading to college next year and is planning to continue wrestling. It’s a HUGE commitment to commit to a sport in college and I’m incredibly proud of him. Senior year was tough for him in more ways than just the coronavirus quarantine, but he’s shown that with perseverance and patience you can still make your dreams come true! His Cashtag is $ianbalik if you can send him a little something. Remember to include “Congrats graduate of 2020!”

Now, enjoy Ian’s Senior Portraits!

If you know a high school senior who hasn’t taken their senior portraits, it’s not too late! There is SO much that the class of 2020 is missing this year, don’t let Senior Portraits be one of them. I am gifting the class of 2020 with FREE Portraits. Contact me today to discuss Portraits for your 2020 Senior!

Fine Print: The session is free. There is a $29 cost to book your session but that amount is given back as a credit towards whatever you’d like to purchase. You’ll also be given (on whichever session your choose) an additional $99 credit towards whatever you’d like to purchase. Dates for sessions are from May 1st until July 30th 2020.