Thank you so much Corinne for taking the time to write about your experience with I Picture Hope. It was such a pleasure meeting you and I’m so happy we were able to do this for you.
I think we really captured what I Picture Hope is all about, feeling beautiful inside and out and having hope for the future.
I’m so honored to be one of the photographers for this great international network of photographers. We offer free styled photo sessions for women affected by breast cancer. To read how you can get involved with I Picture Hope, like them on Facebook or visit their webpage.
Makeup artist Katerina Veneri
My “I Picture Hope” Experience – by Corinne McKeag
I am a breast cancer survivor and I openly communicate that with a sense of pride. I was diagnosed a little over 2 years ago with early stage breast cancer at the age of 39. I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction. This “journey” took over a year with 5 surgeries and I will be on hormonal therapy for at least another 8 years. It was difficult for me and my entire family, but especially for my children who were only 10 and 7 at the time.
I am often told that I handled this difficult, life-altering, situation with grace, a smile and strength. And while I find this to be very complimentary, it isn’t something that I remember having to struggle to do. I was able to pull out my inner strength and endure this time with a smile, because and due to my family’s support. My husband and kids were amazing during this time and it has changed all of us for the better—we are stronger physically and emotionally.
When I heard about I Picture Hope, I looked around Chicago for a photographer that is aligned with this organization. I was connected with Kristine, who contacted me right away. I was slightly nervous about this experience—I have never had professional photography done, or even a professional makeup session. Kristine’s enthusiasm and energy was contagious and she and I connected and I felt as if I was talking to a long lost friend. I wanted to do this, to give something to my children and husband, that would show my inner strength.
Kristine set everything up, all I needed to do was show up. Kristine reached out to Katerina Veneri, a local (and awesome!) professional makeup artist who wanted to be a part of this project and experience as well. We met at Kristine’s condo on a sunny early summer afternoon. Katerina asked me what my normal makeup routine was and how I normally style my hair. I told her…”You’re looking at it”, to which she said something like “okay, not much”. Which is entirely true. Katerina then said, I want to do something special for you and she did. For 2 hrs she styled my hair, and applied natural, but glamorous makeup to my face. And she hid the mirror from me the entire time. When it was time to change into my outfit, I gasped when I entered the bathroom. I looked amazing. And I felt amazing too.
Now it was time to take pictures. Kristine’s artistic ability and eye to find perfect and interesting light and backgrounds was entertaining. We took pictures in the alley, on the sidewalk, near parked cars, in open green hilly fields as well as surrounded by flora and fauna. She made each scene unique to itself. I tried to replicate some of my learnings from my photo session with her, and I did learn a lot.
After about an hour, maybe it was 2, it went fast we were having a lot of fun and laughs, my session was over. But my experience will always stay with me. She and Katerina, opened up their home and their talents to do something uniquely special for me and for my family. And for this, I am forever grateful. Kristine is a wonderfully warm person and I am pleased and proud to say that I was her first I Picture Hope photo session. – Corinne M.