Before you go, sign up for our email newsletter to get inspiring stories, expert advice, and more.
Me Ra Koh
Even now, photography reminds me how you need the dark, the shadows, and the contrast to define the light.
I didn’t find photography. Photography found me. And then it healed me.
I started as a writer.
For 10 years I worked on one book, Beauty Restored: Finding Life and Hope After Date Rape. The heart of this book was to be a message of hope to women and their loved ones. I wanted them to know they were not alone in their pain, based on my own difficult experience of being date raped in college. I went from checking myself into a psychiatric ward to rebuilding a life worth living. But my most painful storm had not hit.
For two years, I travelled around the country bringing awareness to the topic of date rape. At the end of those two years, I miscarried Aidan, our second child. Of all the pain I had seen and endured, nothing felt as heartbreaking as Aidan’s death. I couldn’t speak, write or even get off the couch. A deep sadness had overcome me, and I felt paralyzed.
One afternoon, Pascaline, my two-year-old daughter, was playing on the living room floor. The sun was setting with a golden light that fell through the window and illuminated her. I remember thinking, “I can’t hold on to Aidan, but Pascaline is here. I want to capture her.” I went and bought my first real camera and a pack of film.
I found myself working to capture Pascaline’s story: when she couldn’t stop giggling, when she curled into the safety of daddy’s arms, and even her fussy times. Friends and family started noticing the photos and began asking me to capture moments of their kids. Soon brides were contacting me for their weddings. I had gone from speaking at women’s conferences about date rape to finding healing behind a camera. Life had taken an unexpected turn; photography had found me.
But my desire to empower women was still there. I wasn’t sure how photography would be a vehicle for this; I only knew that I needed to keep leaning in to what life was unfolding for me. After a few years, my husband joined me in our photography business. Through the lens of a camera, we decided to empower as many moms as possible, by teaching and igniting their creative spirits so that they too could capture the essence of their families.
I am in awe at what has transpired: from being an award-winning, sponsored SONY Artisan of Imagery to having my own TV series, Capture Your Story, on Disney Junior for moms, and having a national bestselling photography book series for parents. How does a woman who once checked herself into a psychiatric ward, who had to say goodbye to her second baby, who suffered so much, come to a place like this?
I have to believe it begins with leaning into our pain, following it through our darkness, and believing the pain is no longer something of which I need to be ashamed. Even now, photography reminds me how we need the dark, the shadows and the contrast to define the light.
Get more from Lean In
Lead a Circle
We make it easy to get started, and provide all of the materials you’ll need to run your CircleLead your Circle
Join a Circle
Women around the world are meeting regularly in small groups to support each other and learn new skills–join one todayFind a Circle
Learn New Skills
Use our library of education resources to build new skills and support your careerBuild your skills