Everyone has the power to make someone smile, maybe especially a photographer.
A photographer from Franklin has been using his skills to capture smiles for some time, and recently he worked with a model who has one particularly contagious.
In addition to spreading joy, Kaylee Arrowood hopes to use her modeling career to encourage others to pursue their aspirations, regardless of how they or others perceive their abilities.
“Everyone would always tell her, ‘You have a beautiful smile. You should be a model,’ said Sarah, Kaylee Arrowood’s mother. that’s what she wanted to do. “
Kaylee, 24, lives in Johnson City, Tennessee. She’s non-verbal with cerebral palsy – she uses a Tobii Dynavox device to type and speak electronically using her eye gaze – but she’s certainly communicative even without words, expressing her enthusiasm for her favorite modeling photographs by leaning back over his chair with a big smile.
Sarah Arrowood said they were diagnosed with her daughter when she was 8 or 9 months old, and although it was a “difficult diagnosis to hear” she said she worked to provide her with the best possible life. Kaylee competed in Girl Scouts until she was 18, played on a baseball team, and performed with a traveling competitive cheer team, and her next stop after school was modeling.
The Arrowoods got involved with Health Connect America, a national Franklin-based organization that has a branch to provide job training and job placement services to adults with disabilities, when Kaylee was 22. Most recently, the family hooked up with Dave Krikac, vice president of organization of operations, who previously owned the nonprofit Our Thrift Store in Franklin, which closed permanently last year.
Krikac sees his role in part as a bond between people, so when he heard that Kaylee wanted to be a model, he arranged to meet up with Franklin friend and photographer David Bean.
“[Dave] has always had special needs at heart,… and I have always thought that this was such a beautiful vocation, because who would not want to help people with special needs? Said Bean. “When he came to me he said, ‘Hey, I have this girl, she wants to be a role model and a voice for people with disabilities,’ and I was totally like, ‘I’m on top. ‘”
The Arrowoods traveled to Franklin to meet Bean and create a modeling portfolio for Kaylee. Bean said Kaylee was “the sweetest girl” and “super nice”. He was surprised for a moment, however, not realizing at first that she wasn’t verbal.
“As a photographer, your whole way of doing business is communicating with people and getting things out of people,” he said. “You build a relationship with them, so I was like, okay, I have to figure that out. It’s a little challenge.”
But Bean rose to the challenge and worked with the Arrowoods to determine what poses and angles would be best not only to showcase Kaylee, but also to create a diverse portfolio of shots. Due to cerebral palsy, Kaylee sits in a wheelchair to help her sit up, and her range of motion with her arms is limited.
“It was a challenge in a good way,” Bean said, adding that creativity is about responding to challenges.
Bean majored in commercial photography, but more philanthropic jobs were not uncommon throughout his career. He worked with Flashes of Hope to portray children battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses and traveled to Thailand with International Justice Mission and to the Philippines with Food for the Hungry. He also traveled to Turkey, Lebanon, Colombia and Brazil for other humanitarian efforts and even traveled alone to areas affected by Hurricane Katrina to take family portraits for people who have lost their homes. photo albums and other memorabilia.
“I don’t know why, but I’m always surprised how much a photo means to someone,” he said.
And to Kaylee, who just started her modeling career, those photos meant a lot. Sarah Arrowood shared that her daughter has been signed to Knoxville-based Gage Models & Talent Agency and is ready for a photoshoot on Saturday. Kaylee is excited to begin this new journey and work towards her eventual goal of staring in a country music video.
“We just want to show people that just because you have a disability or special needs, you can go out there and do whatever you want,” said Sarah Arrowood. “We hope we encourage other families to encourage their kids to go out and do things and not have to be stuck at home and not be afraid to try new things.”