Phen Grant
Graphic Design + Art Direction + Illustration
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Blog

Love, Perception & Reality

 
 

For the first time in my life I’ve spent my entire summer traveling.

I’ve visited four new cities on the east coast spanning Beacon, NY down to Philly. I’ve taken a trip back home to visit friends, and crammed in so much family time that my emotional battery pack will be fully charged for months. To top it all off, I had the opportunity to see two of my favorite people exchange vows last weekend. As photographers, the way we capture these moments can come off as exciting, picturesque and beautiful, but sometimes knowing the backstory gives a much better appreciation of our character and determination.

Jenna and Michael have been through hell over the last few months. Michael was in a bike accident that landed him in the emergency room leading to facial stitches and a neck brace. Jenna was t-boned in her car a week before the wedding, and they’ve had to reconfigure so many life plans due to being thrown into these situations. I’m so proud of the couple for holding it together and putting their story—pain, joy, struggle and all—out there for us to share. (Also can someone explain to me how Michael still looks so badass in a neck brace?!)

 
 
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Photos by Emilie White

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My plan this summer was to spend my time traveling, exploring the coast, taking photos, and hopefully doing so with a partner, all while dropping to my ideal weight, developing a ripped bod, and returning from my travels to my cat. I ended up having to give Sumi to my parents in Minnesota due to separation anxiety. I stressed myself out by cramming work and travel in together, gained the weight back that I’d lost, and started seeing a therapist because I’m just now learning boundaries and self-love. Hitting these roadblocks and being tested on a daily basis has taught me some important lessons.

“Our perceptions are constantly crafting who we are. People who get this don’t have it easier, they simply choose to be optimistic, kind, empathetic, and tenacious. Maintaining this energy manifests wonders.”

 
 
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In my months of growth I’ve become a stronger, more independent person. I decided I was going to travel and it happened. I’ve climbed a mountain solo, reconnected with some of the most wonderful humans on the planet, and realized how lucky I am to have a support system that always has my back. I decided to come back to New York to find my dream job. I found two, within a week. I’ve also let go of people and negative habits that weren’t moving me forward. It’s all been a part of the process of learning and growing.

“When you dare to scream your desires at the universe, expect that sometimes it will smack you in the face with the answer.”

Like Jenna and Michael making the best of their situation and celebrating in the face of struggle, I’m learning to focus on the positive and embrace ambiguity. Times of doubt will always pop up, but making sure to celebrate moments of joy is what life is all about. This lesson has been coming to light in beautiful experiences, and for that I’m very grateful. 👘🌸

 
 
Phen Grant