Meet the photographer empowering women of color with her gorgeous portraits.

10 years ago, Sasha Matthews was pregnant and felt so alone.

Matthews was pregnant and had little support. She spent most of her pregnancy talking to other pregnant women online. In fact, Matthews only has one or two pictures of herself from those 40 weeks. One doesn't even have her face in it.

"My whole life dynamic changed," she says. "I felt very shamed and hidden away and didn't feel very important."


So when she transitioned from her career in mental and behavioral health to photography, she knew she wanted to support and empower women, especially women of color.

Today, Matthews, founder of Green Tangerine Photography, takes absolutely stunning photos that showcase women of color during the seasons of their lives.

All photos by Sasha Matthews/Green Tangerine Photography, used with permission.

She's best known for her maternity photographs. With stunning gowns, compelling poses, and happy, confident mamas, Matthews' beautiful work celebrates black motherhood the way it deserves to be celebrated.

"I knew — particularly with women of color who are often shamed for the number of kids they have or how they have their children or how their motherhood is constantly in question — that I wanted to show the side of 'Look at these gorgeous mamas!'" she says.

Matthews encourages her clients to rock fabulous dresses, makeup, or anything else that makes them feel beautiful.

A firm believer that you can never be overdressed for a portrait, Matthews even keeps racks of gowns in multiple sizes in her studio for women who can't afford to spend the money on something new to wear.

She also researches poses and styling to make sure women of every size feel elegant and powerful in their photographs.

"Taking pictures is hard for me even," she says. "If you look better, then you'll feel more confident."

She's had the privilege of watching families bloom and grow seemingly right in front of her eyes.

From engagement photos and maternity photos to newborn and family photos, Matthews' work is never done. And that's exactly how she likes it.

Many clients even become friends. Matthews babysits, attends birthday parties, and sends flowers if a relative passes. It's much more than a business transaction; it's community-building.

"It's really that personal for me," she says. "I am documenting monumental parts of people's lives."

Since telling her story and sharing her work, Matthews discovered the unique power of the words, "me too."

Though Matthew's son is now 10, many people are hearing her story for the first time. Some reached out to share similar feelings of shame or loneliness during pregnancy. For them, her story is hopeful: If she can get through it, they can too.

"I think people want to know they're not the only person who's being shamed. They're not the only person who's not being supported," Matthews says. "And I tell people all the time, there's so much power in the words, 'me too.'"

True

When Molly Reeser was a student at Michigan State University, she took a job mucking horse stalls to help pay for classes. While she was there, she met a 10-year-old girl named Casey, who was being treated for cancer, and — because both were animal lovers — they became fast friends.

Two years later, Casey died of cancer.

"Everyone at the barn wanted to do something to honor her memory," Molly remembers. A lot of suggestions were thrown out, but Molly knew that there was a bigger, more enduring way to do it.

"I saw firsthand how horses helped Casey and her family escape from the difficult and terrifying times they were enduring. I knew that there must be other families who could benefit from horses in the way she and her family had."

Molly approached the barn owners and asked if they would be open to letting her hold a one-day event. She wanted to bring pediatric cancer patients to the farm, where they could enjoy the horses and peaceful setting. They agreed, and with the help of her closest friends and the "emergency" credit card her parents had given her, Molly created her first Camp Casey. She worked with the local hospital where Casey had been a patient and invited 20 patients, their siblings and their parents.

The event was a huge success — and it was originally meant to be just that: a one-day thing. But, Molly says, "I believe Casey had other plans."

One week after the event, Molly received a letter from a five-year-old boy who had brain cancer. He had been at Camp Casey and said it was "the best day of his life."

"[After that], I knew that we had to pull it off again," Molly says. And they did. Every month for the next few years, they threw a Camp Casey. And when Molly graduated, she did the most terrifying thing she had ever done and told her parents that she would be waitressing for a year to see if it might be possible to turn Camp Casey into an actual nonprofit organization. That year of waitressing turned into six, but in the end she was able to pull it off: by 2010, Camp Casey became a non-profit with a paid staff.

"I am grateful for all the ways I've experienced good luck in my life and, therefore, I believe I have a responsibility to give back. It brings me tremendous joy to see people, animals, or things coming together to create goodness in a world that can often be filled with hardships."

Camp Casey serves 1500 children under the age of 18 each year in Michigan. "The organization looks different than when it started," Molly says. "We now operate four cost-free programs that bring accessible horseback riding and recreational services to children with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening illnesses."

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