Beautifully Human / Rachel Helden

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

As we continue our series today, Beautifully Human...


We focus on the beauty of humans and the power in their stories…


Through telling their stories we hope to connect this world. To spread some love and humanity...


To show a common thread of beautiful humans…


This week we go to St. Louis, Missouri with Rachel Helden to hear her incredible story...


Rachel is a dear friend who I have known for a very long time. The strength of Rachel’s story is nothing but inspiring. 

She has kept me motivated to travel. To experience life in a new way when massive changes come into life. 

The joy and kindness she brings to life is remarkable. If everyone in the world could be as kind and joyful as Rachel, we would all be a lot better off. 


Let’s all be beautifully human… 


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Rachel Helden / Photographer / Writer / Saint Louis, Missouri

I read through your questions, and this is the best I can come up with to answer them...

- After leaving a ten year marriage and the death of my father, I embarked on a solo cross country road trip; an odyssey that would take me through the terrors of the underworld and back again. Loading my dad’s car with all my belongings, I put it in drive with no direction in mind but away. I left the passenger seat open for his spirit, taking him along for the ride, imagining he could finally see the wonders he had always hoped to. I was broken, lost.

Seeking the healing powers of the natural world, I found a home in America’s National Parks. They offered solitude, challenging terrain and sweeping vistas I had never yet seen that seemed big enough to hold my pain. Witnessing towering giants at Sequoia and Saguaro, the bliss of the pure blue expanse of Crater Lake, how soft billowing clouds cast shadows over formations at Arches and Badlands, the changing of the leaves in Shenandoah, encountering a surreal land of geysers and wildlife at Yellowstone, fighting against the desert storms of Big Bend and seeing a mountain that scraped the sky at Denali—something in the world felt permanent again.

In three years time, I traveled over 300,000 miles primarily by car, making it to all fifty states in the United States of America, twenty other countries, and connected with friends old and new learning how to navigate the waves of heartache through the sharing of our stories.

I've written a photographic memoir about the journey, Free Way: An Adventure Through Loss. It is a story that plumbs the depths of unending love, raw searing grief, and follows an inspiring journey towards self acceptance. Free Way is a quiet, honest and vulnerable look at losing a past life to gain a new one—a season when I lost everything and found myself.

I am working to publish the book this year, that is my dream. You can direct friends to my Instagram @_photonomad_ and my website at to follow the process. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sending you much love to your corner of the world,