Out of the Box is a choose-your-own-adventure styled shoot challenge hosted by Catalyst and curated by Color Pop Events. Each team of vendors received a special mystery box filled with fun, beautiful, eclectic shoot supplies to be incorporated into a styled wedding shoot.
Photographer Ella Sophie explains her aims for the Out of the Box Challenge: "For me this photo challenge prompted a natural response to the current sociopolitical backlash to diversity, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community. I put out a casting call in my local model group looking for alternative and underrepresented women. I knew from the start I wanted to show a same sex wedding, so when Gigi and Nicole were among my applicants the choice was easy. I’ve looked for wedding inspiration for brides in wheelchairs but have found very little. Ashley of Ash+OAK and I decided we wanted to really show something beautiful and unique with this. Gigi’s wheelchair is her throne, she is truly a queen, her personality is radiant. Nicole expressed that she hardly ever wears makeup unless its for modeling, but that it isn’t really her style. I had decided from the start that I wanted to make the shoot feel as real as possible, and I know that when my clients come to me and express that they aren’t makeup people, I encourage them not to wear it. We did however decide to give Nicole purple brows to match her hair, which she absolutely LOVED."
This is model Giovana's take on participating in the shoot: "My name is Giovana, but most of my friends call me Gigi. I'm an Afro-Latina with a physical disability called Cerebral Palsy, which impacts my legs and left hand. Growing up, I was sad and disappointed that there was not any representation of people with disabilities anywhere. I did not see them in fashion magazines, movies...nothing. The very little representation that we, as people with disabilities, did have was pathetic. Whenever there was a disabled character on TV, instead of living life as a fun everyday person, it was usually the 'feel sorry for me' or the 'overly inspirational' role. Other times, the actor who portrayed the person with a disability was not actually disabled. This scenario reinforced negative stereotypes. I saw these situations and wanted to make a change when I grew up. Now as a young woman in college, I fully embrace my disability as I do being an Afro-Latina. I have the same wants, needs, and values as any other young person. I want to have a career, party with friends, travel, fall in love, etc. I want to raise disability awareness and show the world that being disabled is beautiful and strong...When I was offered the opportunity to model as a bride, I jumped at it. My parents divorced when I was five years old. I never thought of myself being married, but to be photographed as a disabled bride is something I knew I wanted to do. People with disabilities are somehow overlooked when it comes to love, and even sex, which is silly. We are all human. I want to show people through this shoot that there are people with disabilities who want to get married and have the happily ever after ending. We deserve of it!"
Nicole chimed in: "I had an amazing time with the team — I'm thankful that they were not only inclusive but creative, talented, and easy-going. Hiccups that came up were surmountable and approached so fluidly that that shoot felt like it went perfectly! I had an absolute blast and feel privileged to have been able to take part."
The best part about this shoot was the response we got when we did their portraits on the streets of San Francisco. The ‘Mayor of the Tenderloin’ district bought us a bottle of champagne, people cheered and congratulated us. There was so much pride, strength and community; it filled me with joy and resilience."
Photographer | Ella Sophie | @ellasophiephoto
Flowers | Ash+OAK | @ashandoakfloral
Jewelry | Harp Designs | @harpdesigns
Dinnerware/flatware | CB2 | @cb2
Pastry | Alexis Mosqueda | @alexismosqueda29
Mystery Box Vendors
Mystery Box Curator | Color Pop Events | @colorpopevents
Paper | Suite Smith | @arobesque
Acrylic Name Tags | California Lustre | @californialustre
Confetti | The Confetti Bar | @TheConfettiBar
Dress | Hayley Paige of JLM Couture | @blushbyhayleypaige (Instagram) and @misshayleypaige (Facebook) #apollogown #blushbyhayleypaige
Neckwear | Becoming Neckwear | @abbilynisbecoming (Instagram) and @thebecoming.co (Facebook)
Jewelry (rose opal ring) | Rosey West | @roseystudio