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How a Sisterhood Necklace Reminds Me of My Photography Mentor

I’ve been asked many times: “Why do you wear an elephant necklace?”

Living in Washington, D.C., it’s common for people to think it’s a political decision, but it’s not.

Instead, I wear this necklace to symbolize sisterhood – strong, beautiful sisterhood.

Elephant Necklace - NPS Photography

Here’s the backstory: I’ve had the honor of witnessing Jen Hatmaker speak, both in 2019 and again in 2020 before the world shut down.

One of my most beloved stories that she shares is The Elephant Story.

The Elephant Story as told by Jen Hatmaker

“In the wild, when a mama elephant is giving birth, all the other female elephants in the herd back around her in formation. They close ranks so that the delivering mama cannot even be seen in the middle. They stomp and kick up dirt and soil to throw attackers off the scent and basically act like a pack of badasses.
They surround the mama and incoming baby in protection, sending a clear signal to predators that if they want to attack their friend while she is vulnerable, they’ll have to get through 40 tons of female aggression first.
When the baby elephant is delivered, the sister elephants do two things: they kick sand or dirt over the newborn to protect its fragile skin from the sun, and then they all start trumpeting, a female celebration of new life, of sisterhood, of something beautiful being born in a harsh, wild world despite enemies and attackers and predators and odds.
Scientists tell us this: They normally take this formation in only two cases – under attack by predators like lions, or during the birth of a new elephant.
This is what we do, girls. When our sisters are vulnerable, when they are giving birth to new life, new ideas, new ministries, new spaces, when they are under attack, when they need their people to surround them so they can create, deliver, heal, recover…we get in formation. We close ranks and literally have each others’ backs. You want to mess with our sis? Come through us first. Good luck.
And when delivery comes, when new life makes its entrance, when healing finally begins, when the night has passed and our sister is ready to rise back up, we sound our trumpets because we saw it through together. We celebrate! We cheer! We raise our glasses and give thanks.”

women in white shirt and sunglasses outside wearing elephant necklace

My Sisterhood Necklace

After the first conference I heard Jen speak at, attendees were constantly looking for elephants. One of the attendees, Crystalyn Aucoin, happened to be a jewelry designer, and she designed the gorgeous elephant pendant that I wear.

Her design is so meaningful because of the details she included, from the elephant’s eyelashes to her trumpeting trunk and leg in the air, ready to go. This necklace is a constant reminder of sisterhood.

Another special detail that Crystalyn included is the card that accompanied the necklace. This card says, “This design is inspired by the power of sisterhood. It stands for community, loyalty and strength. Each woman who wears this piece is a part of a tribe larger than herself. She is protected, supported and valued beyond measure.”

What Sisterhood Means to Me

Women who do not compete with other women, Women willing to stand with their sisters in the fire. Women who build each other up and rise together. Those women aren’t just women, they are queens.

-Brooke Hampton

In my life and in my work, I am blessed to be surrounded by many queens – women who have stood by my side, who’ve lifted me up, and who continue to do so to this day. I’m so grateful, and it’s just as important to me that I offer the women in my life the same in return – that I stand by them and lift them up as well.

One such queen who’s always worth the shoutout is my photography mentor and dear friend, Sabrina Gebhardt. Since our first interactions on Instagram to my in-person photography mentorship with her in 2019 and every single touchpoint since, I’ve enjoyed learning from and laughing with her. I’m always so incredibly thankful for the friendships I’ve made in the photography world, and so many of them exist thanks to Sabrina bringing us all together. She attracts phenomenal humans because she is one herself, and we all benefit from it.

Sisterhood is so important, and if you don’t have a network of female friends that you do life with, I encourage you to step out and find like-minded women to connect with! It can feel uncomfortable or even downright scary to show up to an industry conference or networking event, to ask another mom at the soccer fields to meet for coffee, or to sign up as a field trip volunteer for your child’s school. But what if stepping outside of your comfort zone was the first step towards finding a sisterhood? You deserve that!

And sisterhood in your profession is important, too. Having support and cheerleaders is a MUST. And if you’re looking for support in the photography industry please follow me on Instagram and join my photographer enewsletter list

One final note: Even if we haven’t met in person, please know that I don’t need to know you in order to support you! On International Women’s Day and always, I have your back, and I am cheering you on. Thanks for reading!

dc photographer

meet natasha

I'm DC photographer, Natasha Sewell. I'm all about capturing those unscripted, full-of-personality moments in the comfort of your home.

As a mom of three and a former elementary school teacher turned in-home newborn and family photographer, I know how to get your littles to cooperate and have FUN!

Let’s get to preserving your family's real-life moments in the place you’re most comfortable – your home.

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