Portrait : Sara Cooper for Real Woman Magazine

We photographed Sara Cooper for the Spring 2019 issue of Real Woman magazine. Sara is battling ALS , a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerves cells in the brain and spinal cord. It’s a terminal diagnosis. You can learn more about Sara’s story at Help for ALS, the GoFundMe her friends created in her honor to help others diagnosed with the illness.

 Editorial portrait shoot with Sara Cooper for Real Woman Magazine. Photos by Linette Kielinski
People say I’m nice, and I try to be, but I’m tough. I am not going out as somebody who got depressed because they got ALS, that’s just not what we’re going to do. I’m going to do it my way.
— Sara Cooper

Our shoot took place at Sara’s mother’s home in New Jersey, where she and her supportive circle of friends had a chance to catch up and be a part of the images.

Lots of thoughts ran through my head regarding how to photograph Sara with her friends and family. I was excited to meet her and get to work, but since the subject matter is so heavy I found myself going into it with a more solemn kind of energy.

 Editorial portrait shoot with Sara Cooper for Real Woman Magazine. Photos by Linette Kielinski

I photographed her in a few different scenarios around the house. It wasn’t until the shot included just Sara and her mother that my emotions really got the best of me… I found myself hiding my tears behind the camera.

 Editorial portrait shoot with Sara Cooper for Real Woman Magazine. Photos by Linette Kielinski

Sara is naturally bold and funny - she managed to keep uplifting vibes going for the majority of our visit, but a bit of sadness concerning the reality of her situation came through while we chatted after the shoot with her friends. I continued to document as much interaction as I could while everyone was getting ready to leave. These images did not run in the issue.



Sara Cooper with family and friends

Sara Cooper with family and friends

I had a hard time writing this post and trying to articulate my feelings about this experience. I hope my capturing and sharing these images that Sara’s story help and inspire others. Please visit here to learn more on how you can help too.