Boston-based HIVE.STUDIO team Austin and Cassie Huck (director of photography and creative director respectively) are inspired by expressive subjects. They are firm believers that the more personality and connection between a photographer and subject, the better the image. So when they were asked to do a shoot that would make a birthday dream come true, how could they resist?
They were approached by fashion model and devoted brother, Chris Garafola. He wanted to surprise his sister Brittany with a photoshoot for her birthday.
"They have always been very close, and Brittany has always followed in her brother’s footsteps. Whatever he did, she wanted to do, so when Chris started modeling, naturally Brittany wanted to be a model, too."
Brittany has Down syndrome. Chris told Fashion Week Daily: "People with Down syndrome have different proficiencies...Brittany can’t read or write, however she has a superpower, where she can just connect with anybody. She just wants to be able to do something if she wants to do it. In this case, she wants to do everything that I do."
Austin and Cassie got to know Chris and Brittany through their Instagram videos (Chris was one of Harper's Bazaar's Hottest 25 men to Follow on Instagram). When Chris reached out to see if they would help surprise Brittany, they said yes before he'd even finished asking. Austin's own nephew has Angelman syndrome, so this project was very personal for him.
Austin said: "Cassie’s creative direction for the shoot was, (1) Reflect Brittany’s inner beauty on the outside, (2) there must be flowers, and (3) make Brittany feel like a princess. We brought on a team of amazing stylists, a hair and makeup artist, videographers and assistants who all believed in Brittany...She was a terrific subject. She put in a pretty long day but was game every step of the way! She really has star power, and she knew it!"
The project was picked up by The Daily Front Row, People, Reuters, and CMT had Brittany and Chris appear as guests on their show. In the end, Brittany's dream came true. She's now represented by Boston's top modeling agency, Maggie Inc.