Bailey the Heart Warrior

Here is the second entry in my Storytelling Portrait Series this summer! I will be highlighting children and teenagers who live with significant medical conditions, and telling their stories.

The Story

​Bailey was born with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), which is a combination of four different heart defects. She had her first open heart surgery at just 6 weeks old, and her third a few months ago. She is a fierce Heart Warrior and a total tomboy, which is the story we chose to tell together. She has fought her way through so many other health challenges – strokes, spinal surgery, cysts, cerebral palsy, hypothyroidism, eye surgery, and more. Bailey keeps on standing back up to fight. 

I was also born with congenital heart defects, and have undergone two heart surgeries. As soon as I read Bailey’s story, I knew I wanted to help tell it! We Heart Warriors need to stick together.

Behind the Scenes

I knew I wanted to highlight the scar from Bailey’s heart surgery, so I scoured the Internet in search of the perfect “archer of the woods” vest. I wanted something technically low-cut, but dignified and appropriate. I found the perfect vest on Unfortunately, it only came in men’s sizes! But the amazing Sarah Henry Suemnig stepped in and tailored it perfectly.

Bailey’s mom found some tan leggings, and I tracked down perfectly weathered boots on Facebook Marketplace.

I was pleased to find a wooden set of bow & arrows on Amazon. I’m also very proud of the awesome leather archery arm guard I found and ordered … that didn’t arrive in time for our shoot. Sigh.

Bailey’s hair and makeup were done by Hollie Wilson Streater. I requested her hair “up”, since a true archer wouldn’t want to be distracted by hair in her face while hunting. Hollie came up with a gorgeous yet sensible twisted up-do that brought the whole look together.

Bailey and I had so much fun coming up with warrior poses in my studio backyard! Stay tuned for a dual portrait with her sister Brooklyn, our Sleeping Beauty with Type 1 Diabetes.