Meet Lakyn Bowman, a full-time ceramic artist and owner of a vintage home décor shop who recently went suuuper viral on TikTok for a photo shoot that will absolutely melt your heart.
The Tennessee-based artist, known as @lakynbowman on the app, uploaded a TikTok where she re-created her grandma's photos in a vintage-inspired photo shoot for her 71st birthday — and it caught the attention of over 8.7 million people.
BuzzFeed spoke to Lakyn, who shared how she got the idea for the gift after doing a self-portrait photo shoot replicating old film photography. "After finishing up these photos, I realized I look very similar to my grandma when she was younger. It was then the idea was born!" she said. "Her birthday was coming up, so I gave my grandpa a call to send me photos of her around my age and swore him to secrecy."
Lakyn also revealed more details about the process and exactly how long it took: "I had about a month and a half to gather the perfect outfits and props from the thrift stores. The day of the photo shoot took about six hours from doing my hair and makeup, outfit changes, lighting adjustments, location changes, and editing the photos and video."
And based on the results, it's clear all the hard work paid off:
While the photo shoot itself was a fun project, it also tugged on a few heartstrings. After the TikTok went viral, many viewers reflected on their own families and shared what seeing Lakyn's video actually meant to them. "Lots of people have commented saying they’re going to give their grandparents a call or that they wish theirs were still around and reminding me to appreciate my family while I still have them," Lakyn said.
When it comes to the photos themselves, Lakyn further broke down how she gave her photos a vintage edit in this TikTok. Plus, while speaking to BuzzFeed, she shared a few tips for those who want to try their own photo shoot.
"My advice would be to first find photos you really see yourself in. This makes it easier to replicate. Get outfits as close as you can to the original. Pay attention to the lighting, the angles, cropping of the image, shoulder placement, expressions, backgrounds, and importantly the edits. Get it as close as you can to the original. This gift is great for more than just birthday gifts."
And, of course, Lakyn also captured her grandma's reaction to the birthday photos and shared it in a follow-up TikTok, and it's a precious moment you just have to see for yourself:
Reply to @katemason06 The audio didn’t save. 😭 But here’s her reaction. I love her so much! 💕
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In the clip, Lakyn reveals the photos to her grandma during a video call, and needless to say, it meant the world. "These photos meant more than just me simply resembling my grandmother. These photos made her feel seen, loved, and appreciated," Lakyn said.
"She loves us grandkids so much. Looking at these photos side by side lets her see herself in someone that she loves so deeply."
While the viral photo shoot made the internet smile, Lakyn also hopes it will inspire others to cherish their loved ones. "I am lucky enough to have my grandparents and my great-grandparents still around! I also hope that people will take the time and do this photo shoot for their loved ones and make them feel seen and appreciated as well. To simply put in the energy towards something special for someone special," she said. "Celebrate your loved ones while you can!"
"My grandma is always putting other people first and makes sure they are taken care of. I wanted to give her a gift that was just about her. My grandparents absolutely love taking photos, so I knew this was a great idea. Nothing will ever surpass this gift."
If you want to keep up with Lakyn, be sure to follow her on TikTok and Instagram, and check out her shop, Lakyn Thrifts.
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