The Way The Sun Rises was a self-inspired project I created to portray the journey of a woman's growth. Through photos and words alike, I wanted to capture the motion of the uncovering. I wanted to visually display her journey, trace her steps from dusk to dawn.

The photos allude to the motion of the sun rising. So many times when we are in our darkest hours, we forget how beautiful the sunrise can be. We forget what a blessing and pleasure it is to exist inside such a glorious and resilient moment that we fail to witness the break of day. - Est. 2019

I implemented a use of color to evoke mood. The red represents the shadow of burdens, the mental ailments that often linger without anyone noticing. The yellow represents the sun, which is why I had my muse, Halimah, wear the color as a metaphorical symbol for her journey of rising. The blue is an interesting contrast with the red, symbolizing the reach, the search for peace and serenity, even in the midst of trials and tribulations.

I wanted to weave the colors together to show the possibility of one learning to exist with their darkness without allowing it to ruin them or have dominion over them. In these photos, I try to capture the process of Halimah’s untangling as she becomes one with her burdens, realizing that even her darkness makes her light shine that much brighter.

Halimah has had her share of challenges with her mental health. From debilitating anxiety to stress, she has spent days trekking through the valleys in search of the sun, not realizing that everything golden exists right within her. Because I have once shared the same song , I felt a strong desire to find someone who may have also experienced the dreary tune I so often found myself humming. I wanted to show the true resiliency, the true rise of a woman. This is her testimonial, with her hands outstretched for the sky. These are her words. This is her journey, her story.

Words from Halimah,

Healing isn't linear. There is not a straight line you follow to reach your highest self. Healing is messy. -Halimah M.

Confidence and self love is this crazy thing. It's so damn hard. It's being able to accept yourself when things look good and when things don't look so good. It's unconditional love. Anxiety is something that impacts me. It's something that frustrates me. I want to run away from it. I don't want to be associated with it. I want to reach this magical fictitious stage of being "past" it. I want to overcome so desperately. But I'm learning how to realize that it's all a journey. This whole life is a journey. You don't ever get anywhere. And the greatest thing I could have ever done for myself is not "get past" my anxiety, but rather realize that it exists and strive to do what I can to help myself rise above it moment by moment.

Even though I don't show up for myself in all the ways I can, I show up often. I get up. I stand up. I keep trying. And you know, today I believe in myself and I know that one day I won't have to try as hard. I won't have to teach my body to be still, to be calm, to relax, to know that my life does not intrinsically equal some traumatic danger that it has to tense up and prepare for. One day I won't have to fight for that, and it's this hope, this dream that keeps me moving forward and inspires me to know that I am so much more than my struggles.

"This is the way the sun rises. Moment by moment. Step by step. Into the palms of the horizon, and its journey is a beautiful thing."

—Mariah H.

Special thank you to Halimah for being my muse and for being vulnerable to share her story in such a beautiful way. I deeply appreciate you. Also, deep thanks to Dave Foster for guidance and encouragement throughout the duration of this project. - est. 2015