Shadows and Surprises

Let me just start off by saying, if any of you ever want to feel beautiful, you only need to call Matthew Murphy and Alex Michaels. They are the Ghostbusters of glamour. Who ya gonna call? Matt and Alex!

Got it? Good. Here’s why:

The day after my super scary, super mind-altering haircut, I enlisted the help of these two awesome gentlemen for a down and dirty photo shoot. I needed an image for the blog, something that signaled what we were doing here on these pages and the attitude I was trying to convey. And let’s face it, I wanted an excuse to dress up my new hair. I knew Matthew’s work since he took all the still photos for First Date, the Broadway show I starred in last year. His shots were so fun and beautiful and it’s a good thing because those pictures graced every subway stop, telephone booth and bus in NYC, not to mention a gargantuan moving billboard in Times Square.




A few months later, I got the opportunity to work with him again on a photo shoot for Bleep Magazine featuring some fellow Broadway ladies. That’s when I met Alex, makeup artist extraordinaire, and together the two of them made photo magic again!



So when it came time to pick an image for the blog, the signpost for what my message was to be, I didn’t hesitate to ask them.

First and foremost, I wanted a very powerful and edgy shot for the main logo. I had my sights set on black and white from the beginning. Strong, determined, maybe even a little pissed off (hey, I’m allowed a little anger, right?!) But more importantly, I wanted beautiful and these boys do beautiful. I picked out every outfit very meticulously with the help of, you guessed it, Natasha, my friend/haircut cheerleader/personal stylist. But as luck would have it, after all this planning, my two favorite images turned out to be little surprises.

Mala’s salon (CarloMarco Studio for those who are asking) is right across the street from an Urban Outfitters. On a last minute whim, Natasha and I decided to stop in to see if there one thing we couldn’t live without for the shoot the next day. We tried on everything in the store like we were in a buddy comedy musical montage but nothing quite spoke to us. Just as we were wrapping up in the sale section, I hear her nonchalantly call out “I would sort of love it if you wore this.” I turned to see her holding up a grey t-shirt that she unearthed from a rack and I swear to you, angels started singing. A t-shirt, on sale, with embroidered X’s on the ta-ta’s. WHAT?!

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, that shirt in the photo came that way! We took scissors to it on the day to adjust the shape of the sleeves but those strategically placed X’s were a gift from above, I kid you not. As soon as we snapped the first shot in it, I knew it was going to be “the one.” Just the right touch of casual madness, with a hint of “I’m not gonna take this shit.” Who could ask for anything more?


Just in case you haven’t seen it enough



But it doesn’t stop there. The rest of the photos are absolutely stunning. Matthew and Alex outdid themselves. Here are a couple more favorites:



Alex lending a hand


Showing the right side of the haircut some love


Some vintage Liza Minnelli falling down


My other happy accident came during the shoot as we were checking some of the photos. We shot against a plain white wall which cast some very cool shadows on the back. As we scrolled through, oohing and ahhing, this one image took my breath away.





My little bald friend, standing right over my shoulder. A simple snapshot of my Present and my Future. The girl in front is focused and determined while the figure in black stands as a messenger, looking in a completely different direction as though it knows something that I just can’t. Not yet at least. But in a way, it has my back, ready to show me what it knows when the time is right. Eventually, I will look at the image as my Present and my Past. But we’ve got a lot more to do before then.



Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy, Twitter: @MurphyMade, Instagram: MurphyMade

Hair and Makeup: Alex Michaels. Twitter: @Alexislives, Instagram: Alexislives

30 thoughts on “Shadows and Surprises

  1. All gorgeous, stunning shots. But the last is truly touching. And it’s just as touching that you’re eyes are opened for those poignant moments through this process. So uplifting! A good lesson for us all.

  2. Krysta, you are so amazing. I know you’ll never see this, but I just want to thank you for being in this world. You are such a huge blessing to all you encounter. You’re effervescent, beautiful, and you don’t take shit! I wish I could be more like you. Thank you for being an amazing gift from God. I love you! ❤️

  3. Stunning and moments you will never forget… One of the best moments during my cancer journey was having make done and a photo shoot with our photographer. It’s empowering and a beautiful thing for the soul.

  4. Love your shirt in your logo pic (was wondering about the X’s) but particularly love the final shot! Absolutely haunting … in a good way. Adore the way you phrased it too — your Present & Future soon to be your Past & Present. That’s how I feel now five years out from my battle. Cancer is SO five years ago!

    Fantastic blog! You are gonna kick cancer’s butt! You’ve got the spirit it takes! I cannot WAIT for the day when you announce you are cancer free!

    1. One year to the day that my husband of 50 years was diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer…he dies 40 days later…I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. I had a double mastectomy 14 months ago. My request of my surgeon was ” Please make my scars look like smiley faces. When I look in the mirror I want to remember the good times and smile.” She did and I do. I opted for no reconstruction and no prostheses. Family, friends and strangers compliment me on my positive attitude. This is life and only we can create our own happiness. It is a do-it-yourself project. I am happy with me!

  5. You look amazing! I absolutely love the short hair cut! You are a badass fighter! Own it.
    Amber – just another badass fighter

  6. Wow. That last picture took MY breath away so I can’t imagine how you felt! Absolutely beautiful pictures to match a beautiful person. I love you! (:

  7. Hey Krysta! I understand that you hear this constantly, and that you probably won’t even see this, but I am a teenager living in a small town in Ohio, and YOU are my inspiration, even before you had cancer. You are so talented, and I just wanted to tell you that you CAN and WILL beat this cancer. Even me, in my 16 years, know a strong person when I see one. My life has been touched by cancer. My grandfather passed away in 2011 from cancer, my other grandfather is currently being treated, and my twin sister, though she didn’t have cancer, had to have open heart surgery last year. So I know what a survivor looks like, and there is NO DOUBT in my mind that you are a survivor.

  8. You look stunning!! You are so fortunate to have your friends help you look your very best. Bet they’ll do the same al thru your treatment and beyond. One thing I had my hubs do for me – I didn’t have hair until I was two, so we found a picture of me as a child with no hair and hubs did a spit screen of that me and bald from treatment me and copied it as a pictured. My family and I got tons of laughs for a long time over that one!! You have all these beauties! Someone should make a book for you with them in it. Keep up your positive attitude and it will be over in several months. Can’t wait to see youe new haircuts, makeup, and outfits.

  9. Hi Krysta, we have a ton of OCHSA pals in common on FB but I don’t think we ever connected because I graduated in 98 (and taught MT there in 2004/5). As a fellow young adult cancer survivor (diagnosed w/stage IV head and lung at 26) I thought I would message you in solidarity of your current battle. You are probably still in the adjustment phase of chemoland (the bone pain, my god I hated it, lessens as you go along) and you are probably swamped with messages and comments but I wanted to express my admiration of your openness, resilience and humor. Also, since you are in LA, I can’t express enough how awesome the UCLA Simms/Mann centre is (especially the counselor Tom Pier). Might be worth checking out, it’s open to everyone and is free (if you do, give Tom a BIG hello). There are great links there to young adult groups and networks if you’re interested or would want to share your blog with. I feel like giving you 101 tips from my experience but you have probably heard many of them. I must say, OCHSA alumni family supported my fight (and research fundraising) in ways that I did not expect. Please know my heart is with ya. Keep kicking ass. And these shots are amazing!

  10. You are such an inpsiration to other young women .Not just because of how well you are dealing with Cancer and Chemotherapy but because you seem to have a knack for turning the negative into something positive and flipping it around into your favour.The picture of you with the shadow is simply stunning and almost like a guardian angel watching over you and having your back as you mentioned . I have always looked up to you as a vocalist ever since i first found videos of you on youtube singing .One normal night in paticular is my favourite because of how you switch from mix into belt on the phrase one normal night without having a place to reset your larynx ! thats so impressive to me .I wish you all the best on your journey and will continue reading your blog and silently supporting you <3

  11. Can’t believe the shirt with the X’s came into the photoshoot like that. I was so inspired by the picture when the site went up, so it’s hard to believe it wasn’t preplanned! I’m happy you went with Matthew and Alex for the photoshoot, because the First Date and the Bleep Magazine shoots are easily my favourite ones of you.
    I hope you have your favourite shots displayed proudly somewhere, because in a few years I’m sure you’ll be inspired by the fierce woman you are today battling breast cancer like a champ.
    Loving everything on this site so far and I can’t wait to read more <3 Sending you lots of love and best wishes :*

  12. I really can´t believe the story behind the shirt! Talking about MEANT TO BE!

    Kudos on the pictures. Love that black and white theme…

    The haircut is amazing!

  13. Dear Krysta,

    I met you in December, 2013 after seeing First Date with a friend. I was blown away by your kindness and your simplicity. You chatted and laughed with us, and we didn’t feel like we were the fans and you were the star of the show. Just girls having fun. You were shining then, and you are shining even brighter today.

    My mom had breast cancer when the youngest in our family was 9. I watched her go through chemo, long hours curled up on the couch with a bucket next to her in case she threw up, and times when she was so weak she was barely able to speak. But as time went by, I watched her get better, I saw her hair grow back, I saw her standing again and being able to do the things she used to do before her cancer. It’s been 9 years now. And she is fine. And you will be too.

    I am amazed by your courage. If your cancer saw how tough and determined you look on those pictures, I bet it would run away right NOW.
    I’m praying for you. You go girl.

  14. Stunning photos, Krysta! The last photo was definitely breath-taking. You are so strong and inspiring, and I always look forward to your posts 🙂

    ♡ Carissa

  15. KRYSTA,
    I just wanted to thank you for doing this blog.. It means a lot to me because my eldest daughter passed away 3 yrs. ago 2 weeks before her 11th birthday. Her first of many battles with CANCER was when she was 5 yrs. old and then she relapsed 3 more time for a GRAND TOTAL of FOUR rounds over the term of 6 yrs.
    And it was SOOOO HARD to see my little angel go through all of that just to end up losing her war, or so I thought at that time now that I’ve had the chance to understand a bit I realize that she didn’t lose, WE didn’t lose. We won cause thanks to her going through all of that I GOT TO MEET A HERO IN PERSON.!!! FLESH AND BLOOD AND BETTER YET IT WAS MY FLEASH AND BLOOD. And now thanks to you I get see what a REAL HERO looks like when she is all grown up. How she feels and thinks AND CONQUERS.. So I really wanted to take this opportunity to THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF HEART FOR GIVING MY BABY A VOICE AND BEING SUCH A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL FOR HORRIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES.. AND SHOWING THE WORLD THAT LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT..AND NOT WHAT IT TRYS TO MAKE OF YOU.. SHE WAS MY BIGGEST HERO AND NOW YOU STAND NEXT TO HER. THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU..
    P.S. you look amazing!!!! keep up the GREAT WORK… AND REMEMBER REAL HEROS ARE NEVER FORGOTTEN..

  16. Love the new hair cut and all of the pictures. Keep moving forward very proud of you.

    For the bone pain if they did not suggest, my doctors suggested Claritin D. They really do not know why it works, but it does.

    Love you, Dawne

  17. Krystal,
    I don’t know if you read these but I just wanted to tell you about my great esteem for you as a person. I met you (if you can call it that) briefly outside the stage doors of First Date and you seem like an incredible woman. You were very friendly and down to earth and didn’t mind that more people seemed interested in getting Zahary Levi’s autograph than yours. You were the person that everyone hopes their favorite celebrity is; a confident and talented and fabulous normal human being. I am so happy that I got to see you perform (you were fantastic!) and then meet you face to face. Thank you for all that you do and for being brave enough to share your skills as well as your struggles with the world. Honestly, I wish we could be friends because you seem like an awesome and strong person. I wish you the best of luck. Thank you again. (Also, love the haircut!)


  18. I love this! I wish I’d been less afraid of the camera before my journey began, because I have woefully few “before” pictures.

    But don’t forget to embrace all the stages of this journey. Remember that you are and will be beautiful throughout. I spent far too much time hating my “after” look, and I refused to let anyone take my picture for a couple of years, until I finally realized that I don’t want to leave a blank canvas behind when I get to the end of my life. And I may not love my bloated, post-surgery, post-steroids body, but my smile still sparkles and my eyes still have that same mischievous twinkle. And sometimes, I catch a glimpse of strength and determination in a snapshot that I didn’t even know I still had inside me.

    Document the whole journey. Embrace the beauty of every phase. <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *