I am not what happened to me; I am what I choose to become.
Referring to setbacks as obstacles through which she’s navigated (and beaten), there’s something distinctly believable about everything that Valentina Spatola says when she speaks candidly about her life. There’s a genuine quality to every piece of advice she gives, and there’s a reason: She’s lived through pain, and used that pain to empower others. Anyone can recite quotes in a half-hearted attempt to console others; Valentina speaks with conviction, and there’s a feeling instilled in the recipient of the advice that you don’t want to let her down.
There’s nothing in particular that she must listen to or watch to inspire her each day; rather, it’s the empowering belief that “What’s coming is so much better than anything that’s happened.”
With the belief that her career enables her to create art each and every day, it’s no wonder her style reflected her personality so well — the photos can attest to that — and her confidence in this photoshoot is evident. That confidence, of course, turns heads everywhere she goes. What, then, is the best compliment she can receive?
“Anyone can comment on your looks. I want to hear that I’m genuine and that I speak from a genuine heart.” Then, quoting Maya Angelou, she said with a smile: “people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Spend a few moments with her, and before long, you’ll hear her giggling. Why so giddy, Brittney Gideon? “I’m just genuinely in love with my life right now.”
Tell Gabriela Vázquez to look angry, and she just won’t do it. (Smiling is her thing.) Mention her partner, and she glows. “He makes me feel beautiful.”
Teammates on UNLV’s women’s soccer team, the two have remarkable chemistry on and off the field. Of course, their personalities are evident: Selfies at Starbucks, providing words of encouragement as each one poses for individual photos, and an irrepressible urge to smile.
How do you define perfect? How do you measure love? Before Kendell Galor’s bridal shower — a loving, beautiful, supportive, energetic affair — these endeavors were impossible. Then, to see the look in Kendell’s eyes when she described her relationship with Jared, her reverence for her family, and her love of her horses, it was clear to me that perfection in the wonderfully-catered Galor household is equal parts love and respect, a heaping amount of communication, and a whole lot of admiration and support from family and friends. An innocuous comment to most actually stood out to me more than anything: she mentioned she wouldn’t trade Jared for hunky actor Chris Hemsworth because she “hit the jackpot” with Jared and the love and respect they share made her a lucky woman. Wow.
Some photos are simply breathtaking; others, the “blooper” reel photos, are just as endearing. Kendell Galor never once stopped smiling during the entirety of the night. Why would she? In my eyes, the love she shares with her partner, with her family, and with her horses, is absolutely perfect.
Photoshoots & event photography by LVRJ award-winning journalist Jamie Bichelman