This blog post is dedicated to Gigi Baith because within the short amount of time I have known Gigi, she has made such an impact on me! You know the saying “quality over quantity”? Well, Gigi embodies that impact on me. I have so much respect and admiration for Gigi and who she is as an individual. Not to mention, I have had the privilege of being shot by Gigi. In fact, Gigi is the FIRST photographer ever to reach out to me and ask me if I would be interested in being captured?! I personally never saw myself as the one in front of a camera, but Gigi believed in me. She has helped build my confidence in front of the camera and helped build my portfolio. With that all being said, I can’t wait for you to learn why she is so amazing! Please read on to learn about Gigi!
1) Please tell me a little about yourself:
My name is Gigi Baith. I’m a heart failure survivor and a Chicago based Photographer whom is originally from Los Angeles and now residing in Chicago. I’ve only been in Chicago for 4 1/5 years and I love it. I moved to Chicago for work and found love as well after only being here a month. Life is crazy. Surprisingly, I was a Leasing Agent for apartments before I became a photographer. But, open heart surgery changed all that. 😉
2) Your instagram caption mentions that you are a heart failure survivor, can you elaborate on that?
3 years ago I got diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy (a virus attacked my heart at some point and didn’t leave a trace.) That day changed my life forever. One day I had a lot of energy and the next day, no energy. I couldn’t walk 2 steps without feeling like “I just ran a marathon”. Scary stuff! 1 ½ years after my diagnoses, I underwent 2 surgeries. One for my defibrillator and the other was an open-heart surgery to get my LVAD machine (a machine to help my heart pump and bridge the gap while waiting for a heart). After the open-heart surgery, it took 8 months to recover.
3) What helped you overcome it?
At that time, I wouldn’t have been able to get through anything without my mom and boyfriend. It takes a village. The best advice my mom gave me was “Give yourself a certain amount of time to grieve and then choose to be strong and fight.” FIGHT, I did! It was a fight to walk everyday, when I was in so much pain. I live on the 2nd floor of my walk-up building and I would drop the keys down to the delivery people to receive my GrubHub food and packages because my body wasn’t strong enough to walk down a flight of stairs. I was very resourceful, to say the least. My boyfriend (whom, I live with) had to go back to work, so I had to figure out tricks on how to manage washing my hair and changing my own dressing from the surgery. Its funny how things that we take for granted everyday, became my new normal. There were days where I got so depressed that I literally cried, every hour on the hour. I got to the point where I couldn’t complete a sentence without tears. The thought of everything I went through with the surgery and how worried my friends and family were, was very overwhelming. There were a couple times, I thought it would be easier if I were dead. But, thankfully I had my mom to shake me out of those thoughts of darkness. I often thought to myself , Oh Jesus! Take the wheel! It was rough. Extremely, rough. The silver lining is that, I came out of it, wanting to help other patients that are dealing with the same fear I had, regarding heart failure. God saved my life on that cold operating table, March 18th 2017. When God saves your life, you must find your purpose. Purpose is what gets me up every single day.
4) How did you start getting into photography? Are you self taught?
During the 8 months that I was recovering from Open Heart surgery. I taught myself photography. Read countless photography books, Instagram pages, Magazines and YouTube Channels. My favorite photography inspo magazine is Kinfolk and Sweet Paul.
5) What would you say is your biggest accomplishment yet?
My biggest accomplishment is being able to counsel patients in the hospital when they are days away from getting Open Heart Surgery. I talk to an average of 7 patients a months. I have also talked on many panels with my testimony about the process of getting and living with the LVAD
6) Where do you see yourself in 1, 5, and 10 years from now?
Hmmmm…In one year, I would love to shoot for a food magazine. In 5 years, God willing, I will have a heart and be able to finally go swimming in a pool or ocean (I use to be a swimmer and I love the water). In 10 years, I hope I’m still alive and most of all HAPPY. I live day by day. No one is promised tomorrow.
7) Words of advice for those who ever felt a roadblock:
Knowing that NOTHING last forever. Not even pain. I also love referring back to my favorite ” Self Help book, Peace from Broken Pieces by Iyanla Vanzant. She is my spiritual guru along with my mom.
“If you don’t have a trickle of pee running down your leg, you aint livin big enough” – Iyanla Vanzant
If you would like to know more about Gigi and her amazing work, check her out on her instagram.
All thoughts and opinions are my own. Gigi Baith helped facilitate this entry with her own thoughts and opinions. If you would like to learn more about this feature of the blog, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org