Category: Sessions

Indian Rocks Beach with Jess Hanna

I was recently introduced to an incredible woman with a heart of gold, a spirit full of joy, and with the most genuine smile. I’m so excited to share this session at Indian Rocks Beach with Jess Hanna & share some of her story with you all! She is currently battling breast cancer and her life has been flipped upside down. My hope is that having these photos will bring some unexpected joy to the journey and give us all a great reminder of how good things can come from bad places. When I’m fighting my own battles I want to know that it wasn’t all for nothing.. that the struggles I’ve gotten through has been a guide map for someone else walking through the same. And Jess has certainly been doing her best to document the hurt & incredibly hard stuff, but giving perspective with hope.

Here is JESS for you!!

Hi everybody! My name is Jess and I just hit a big milestone…40 years old! My husband and I are coming up on 17 years of marriage, I am a mom to four pretty great kids; three boys, 16, 14, and 12, and our sweet adopted daughter who joined our family when she was 3 years old. She is now 7. For five years, I have worked and grown a home-based skincare business, I coach boxing, I homeschool my children, and I hold a leadership position with our local homeschooling community.

My most recent job has been cancer patient. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2020 and many of my other tasks have had to take a backseat while I fight this disease. The day I was diagnosed was hard. There is no other way to say it. It was an out of body experience. I can honestly say it is just like the movies. I was sitting in the doctor’s office with my husband by my side and my doctor rolled his little stool over to me, placed his hand on my knee, and said the words, “You have cancer.”

I felt like I was drifting away from my body. I could hear him as he continued to speak but I was not actually hearing anything he was saying. His voice was faint and far away. I was so thankful my husband, Erik was with me because he was able to repeat what was said and help me begin processing. I knew right away that I had to decide on how I was going to walk this out. I didn’t have a choice in my diagnosis, but I did get to decide how I was going to handle it. I chose positivity, leaning into my faith, working on a strong mental game, and a good dose of humor. Making this very important choice (because we all have a choice) I had a sense of unexplained peace wash over me. I was bathed in a protective covering that may waver, because human emotion will do that, but it would not break.

Cancer changes your life. Whether you are the one walking it or you know someone who is. There are obviously some big downs like the physical pain and the effects of treatment, but the mental battle is by far the hardest to overcome. I will say there have been positives. I have had a greater sense of purpose. I have been able to connect with my children at a deeper level because we have having more conversations about life in general. All the things I used to think, “Oh, we’ve got time!” I don’t wait anymore.

My marriage is the best it has ever been because when you or a loved one is facing a disease that wants to rip you out of your beautiful life, you let the petty things go and enjoy one another more. One of my favorite places to go is the beach. After spending 30 years in Michigan it was a treat to move near the Gulf beaches of Florida.

Indian Rocks Beach is my most favorite beach! Our family lived here for 3 years and would take our golf cart and cross Gulf Blvd so we could enjoy a day at the beach or even just a quick sunset, whenever we wanted. It’s my happy place! Being as busy as I am it can be hard to carve out time for fun but there are a few things I really enjoy. Boxing is a BIG #1 for me! I can’t wait to get back in the gym. Hand lettering and faux calligraphy is another pastime I love. I’ve already mentioned the beach, but I’ll say it again because it is a place that brings calmness into my crazy life. The water, the waves, the wind. The sounds that drift into your ear. The sights that bring you to a point of awe. Take me there now!

I’m a discount shopper and I enjoy finding great pieces without spending a lot of money. My top and skirt were both purchased at Marshall’s. The skirt is made by Cupio. My earrings (which are my favs right now) are from Banana Republic. A couple years ago I started a Facebook show called “The Mess in the Middle with Jess” This show was a way for me to bring my experience, the ups and downs of this ‘middle’ part called life and hopefully encourage others, help them to know they aren’t alone in the mess, and share tips I have learned along the way. I ended each episode with the line. “The middle is messy, it’s all in how you handle it.”Breast cancer survivor

We are not in this world alone. We were made for relationships. Our job is to connect authentically with others so we can lift one another up and become better than we were yesterday.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the beautiful photos from Indian Rocks Beach with Jess. For those of you who know her, you know that her journey has progressed since this photo and she has started chemo. With chemo comes hair loss. She knew this was coming & asked if we could get these photos in before that hit. I wanted to give you guys an updated photo of her and share her vulnerability on doing a Facebook live when they shaved her head.. she is an incredibly open & giving person for sharing this intimate part of her life. Here are a couple of photos from her Facebook that I’m sharing (with permission of course) and if you want to keep up with her and support her – you can follow her on Facebook. She is constantly sharing great nuggets of information on cancer, life, parenting, etc.

Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film

Lakeland, Florida based husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Serving the areas of Central Florida, Tampa, Orlando, St. Louis, Chicago, and Southern IL.

With over 10 years of wedding photography experience, Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings –

they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact their team today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – CLICK HERE for our contact page!


Great Gatsby themed 1920s Gala

The Great Gatsby themed 1920s Gala during The Reset Conference was definitely one of the BEST parts of the whole conference. This conference is such an intimate and joy filled atmosphere – it’s like no other conference for creatives I’ve ever been to! The speakers are always so awesome about being real & sharing their stories (even when it isn’t pretty) and I’ve grown to expect that each year and I truly appreciate it! The hostesses of the conference Rebekah Albaugh and Kellie Penn had a change of venues – which gave us the opportunity to partake in some 1920s themed fun! They planned a 1920s gala for the speakers & attendees in the lower level of the historic Seelbach Hilton Hotel in downtown Louisville, KY.

I’m jumping out of a jam packed weekend full of fun and learning at The Reset Conference for photographers and I’m so excited to share a few photos from the Great Gatsby themed 1920s Gala! Let me introduce to you Kayla and Adam!!! Kayla is a fellow photographer that attended the event and she is such a sweet gal! I had so much fun getting to know her this weekend! When she asked me to photographer her and Adam – I melted! Getting to shoot another photographer in a historical hotel like Seelbach was like a dream come true! We had a blast!!!

great gatsby gala dress 1920s dressGreat Gatsby themed 1920s Gala seelbach hotel The Seelbach Louisville KY




Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film
Southern Illinois based husband and wife wedding photography and videography team.

Rachel and Garren do more than just document weddings – they capture the overwhelming joy of your special day while bringing a sense of peace & calming to the wedding day!

Contact us today for more information about booking your wedding photography.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700


Amazing Story of Recovery

This morning we had a young woman come into the studio for a model call. My inspiration for the shoot was to bring encouragement, positivity, and confidence to this lovely momma of four. We brought in a makeup artist and hairstylist from Bella Chez Salon in Salem, IL and this beautiful lady got the royal treatment. What I didn’t know when I reached out to Michelle was that she is a recovering drug addict. She shared the honest truth about her story with me and I was blown away by her progress. She is 14 months clean and has taken huge steps to stay clean.Bella Chez Salon Salem, IL Hair and Makeup artist in studio

From Michelle:
“I started smoking pot at 12. Worked my way to harder drugs by 16 & was a functioning addict.. I held jobs, went to school, and raised my children. I graduated in May of 2011 with my A.S. in early childhood education and I am 3 classes away from my A.S. in criminal justice. I got pregnant at 19 and again at 23 and was able to remain clean during both pregnancies. I am working my 12 steps in a small women’s step study in Centralia on Sundays. I’m one week away from completing it! When I started using IV drugs I lost control and the dope took over. We nearly lost everything and the main reason we are clean now is because my husband got into trouble and we knew we couldn’t be together with one of us clean. We had wanted to be clean for a long time, but that was the push we needed. Since then we have gotten our home out of foreclosure, gotten all our bills caught up, bought a nicer vehicle, we have custody of all of our kids, and I’m back working full time.
What helps me stay clean is having my husband Jerad who understands and taking a step back and looking at how we were living compared to now. I never want to go back. We now have honest, true friends and trust of our families back. Our children now respect us and we will never be bad influences to them again. We are their role models and I was slipping, but I’m never going down that path again.”

One thing Michelle shared about is the Celebrate Recovery meeting she attends at the Apostolic Church locally. With a little research I found that Celebrate Recovery is a world-wide program that helps pull people out of addiction. What an awesome resource for those struggling with dependency. Michelle said that it’s an amazing place to share safely with others & hopes that others who are struggling can find out about this program. From a CR advocate, “While Celebrate Recovery is known for addressing addiction it also addresses any type of hurts, habits, and hang-ups. That’s the beauty of the program.”

Glamour Shots

We are so thankful God brought Michelle into our studio today.. it’s truly a God thing that pulled this idea out of nowhere & made such an amazing impact on me. I truly hope that her honest openness and her incredible story can help someone else who is in a dark place and needs hope that change CAN happen. Thank you Michelle for being so transparent and allowing me to share your story with others.

She has been through so much and LOOK at her. She is stunning! I had to share the black & white version of each of these images because there is something so classy about a good ol’ black & white photo! I can’t tell you how proud I am of this young women for recovering from the addictions and awfulness of drugs. God is going to do amazing things with you, Michelle!
Recovering with Celebrate Recovery

Studio Glamour Shot I noticed Michelle’s tattoo on her collarbone – it says “One Day at a Time” and she said it’s something they say in meetings and that it’s a personal reminder to her. One day at a time. She said, “I also suffer from anxiety and it’s a small reminder.. just one day at a time.. sometimes I think one hour at a time one minute at a time.. even one second at a time.”

One Day at a Time Tattoo - in reference to CR

Thank you for stopping by & checking out the work of Rachel & Garren • Photo and Film – Southern Illinois based husband and wife photography and videography team.

Contact us today for more information about booking your own photo experience.
Rachel & Garren King – 3440 Lazy Acres – Salem, IL 62881 – 618.740.1700