18-year-old photographer managing hidden illness to shoot with NatGeo

18-year-old photographer managing hidden illness to shoot with Nat'l Geographic

DARDANELLE, Ark. (KTHV) – Positioned along the Arkansas River sits Dardanelle, home to 18-year-old Isabelle Berryhill who sees life through a different lens.

Armed with her Canon, she is battling a personal fight. One that’s usually invisible to the untrained eye.

“Dysautonomia,” she explains. “Which basically means that everything inside doesn’t work how it’s supposed to.”

The chronic illness is a breakdown of the autonomic nervous system, which powers the control of bodily functions like breathing, the heartbeat, and the digestive processes.

Her sophomore year, Isabelle left high school for online classes, so that she could better manage her symptoms.

“When I was in regular school,” she added, “I would miss most mornings.”

While it’s not a picture-perfect scenario, Isabelle’s not sitting in the darkroom.

“I entered for the National Geographic Student Expedition in Yellowstone.” 

And she got it. Isabelle is one of up to 30 students worldwide who will gain exposure with National Geographic through this summer workshop.

In applying for the expedition, you’re selected based on what’s in your “digital locker.” This is anything from teacher references to a statement on why you desire to take part.

Isabelle’s proud dad shared with THV11 off-camera that photography is the perfect profession for his girl as Dysautonomia doesn’t allow for Isabelle to be on a very strict schedule.

“I’m opening up my own studio, hopefully in a few months,” she added. “We’re working on getting the building fixed up now and it’s almost there.”

Isabelle, who adores shooting wildlife and landscape, has also found a love for photographing weddings and other portraits. She said she never thought she’d be where she is now.

“This has just helped me realize to live life as much as you can, and to experience everything you can.”

Isabelle has been photographing since January of 2015. In just over a year of perfecting her craft, she’s received quite the response. In fact, car manufacturers have even asked to use a photo she took of a Fiat sitting beneath the Arkansas stars.

Check out her photography page here.


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