Francesca LaCosta has been visiting Vibeke Dahl Photography every 18 months since she was a child. She is 18 now and almost an adult, but she has enjoyed observing her own physical and emotional changes as she matured through each series of photographs.
She remembers some of the early sessions, especially those when she wore an oversized wedding dress and a Dalmatian dog costume. The dog costume is significant because Francesca was given a Dalmatian toy after undergoing major heart surgery when she was 10 months old. The surgery corrected a life-threatening condition that had left Francesca without enough oxygen. She still has the toy today. “I loved dressing up as a Dalmatian. That was a fun picture,” she says.
Capturing Change in Moments
The lasting impression Francesca takes away from her many visits to the studio is the talent Vibeke has for bringing out the best in people. Francesca says, “Vibeke doesn’t tell us to pose. We can move, spin around, be in natural positions. I think that’s how she captures specific moments.” Francesca feels lucky to have 18 years’ worth of beautiful photographs of herself and her family.
Specifically, Francesca enjoys seeing the physical changes apparent in the photographs and links them with maturing over the years. Her dress style has changed, her hair has changed, even her teeth changed. Francesca explains, “I used to have uneven teeth but after the ninth series of photographs, I had braces. I was so proud of my newly straightened teeth in the tenth series of photographs.”
Francesca decided to study medicine because she always enjoyed learning about the human body. She started out in forensic science but decided she preferred the rush of adrenaline and fulfilment of medicine. Francesca enjoys the workload and the fact that she doesn’t need to sit at a desk all day.
Observing several craniofacial surgeries, Francesca found the real life contact with patients and surgeons exhilarating and fascinating. Francesca explains, “Craniofacial surgery is like plastic surgery on the skull and often involves facial reconstruction.” She has shadowed a surgeon working with a charity that funds operations for children with facial deformities, Facing the World, and she is involved with the Iran’s Children Charity that provides medical and practical support to children.
Francesca has also worked in hospices supporting people at the terminal stage of life. Just by serving tea and talking to patients and families, she has raised spirits during difficult times. Francesca has learned a lot from these patients about courage and the value of optimism. “People can be very brave and still positive about life, even when they know their time is up,” she says.
What’s next for Francesca?
With only two photography sessions left before Francesca turns 21, Vibeke is almost finished documenting her childhood milestones. Francesca is really pleased that her parents decided to work with Vibeke and she will treasure her photographs well into adulthood.
Article written by Cristina Benson