Lessons from Lola | Part Two


People are GOOD. Really, really, good. We see so much ugliness in the media, on the news, on our Facebook feeds, and no, it won’t go away. But, what if…seriously, WHAT IF we put all that ugly energy toward good? That really is the ultimate mission of Beauty Revived. To find beauty in darkness. To find beauty in hardship. To find beauty in every person. We each have a choice, in whatever we do, to choose LOVE or to choose not to love.


Always. choose. love.


When I decided I wanted to do a Beauty Revived session, I initially tried to talk myself out of it. Who would listen? Turns out many did. I thought “maybe a few people would send Lola little notes of love and support?” And so I created a private Facebook event dubbed #OperationLoveLola. I hoped with all my heart that at least a few people would drop a card or two in the mail. But people from all over the world jumped in with both feet and sent cards and gifts and packages and love. I asked for her to be showered with love. And that’s exactly what happened.

When I I finally met Lola. I was nervous because I wanted the day to be perfect for her. You guys. It was PERFECT. Lola is even more captivating than I could have imagined. She is full of light and love and joy and wonder. It radiated out of her.

Lola was overwhelmed by all love she received from so many people. I sent her home with a trunk full of of love in the form of cards, letters, and packages. Her grandmother sent me this note the next morning:

“Lola kept saying, ‘I can’t believe all these people who don’t know me would do this!’ Just incredible….I wish I was a better photographer…that Wonder you caught, I watched that through the whole process of opening each gift. And there were so many letters. People really put their hearts and souls into words for Lola. She would read the letters to me and just say, ‘Wow.’ Embarrassment of Riches in the very best way!”


I was learning an important lesson here as well. Be good. Be kind. Be compassionate. This little lady wrapped me around her finger. She was full of wonder and awe, full of light and love.

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” ― Kahlil Gibran

I didn’t think there was anything that could top our day together, and then I found out that Lola’s story would be featured in the Beauty Revived print magazine and online campaign for America’s 50 Most Beautiful Children. I am humbled and blessed to be able to share Lola and her story in such a real and amazing way. Remember back when I tried to talk myself out of doing this? I could not be more grateful for all the people who did not hesitate to say YES for Lola.


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Michaela Ristaino

Michaela Ristaino

Michaela has a deep passion for all things creative. With a background in professional music and theatre, it came as no surprise when one day she picked up a camera and fell in love. As a child she was obsessed with the boxes of old photo albums and slides in her parent’s basement. Seeing this other world amazed her. Black and white images printed on linen that had been painstakingly “colored” by hand with soft watercolor beauty. Pictures of her grandparents as teenagers…and her great grandparents on their farm in rural Wisconsin looking just like “American Gothic.” Somehow, even then, she knew that photographs had the power to change people.

Ristaino Photography was born in 2014, and Michaela is in her happiest place when working one on one with a client to create images that sing with their truest inner beauty. She was thrilled when one of her images was featured on the cover of the Beauty Revived 50 Most Beautiful Children magazine. Her heart is still overflowing.

Michaela is the heart and soul of The Photographer’s Element Student Lounge. Having the ability to create a safe and nourishing place for the TPE community to continue to grow and collaborate (even after your course is over!) fills her heart with joy. She truly believes that the nurturing environment at TPE is what sets it apart from other photography schools.

When she’s not traveling, you can find Michaela in sunny Florida, where she lives with her amazing husband and best friend Cap’n Tony. With way too many unfinished latch-hook rug kits in her childhood closet, she is a tiny bit amazed with herself for being super close to finishing her first Project 365.
Michaela Ristaino

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