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sheSTRENGTH Stories: Meet Justin

Photographer Gets Another Shot

 From Rock Bottom to Photographer

Photographer Justin Lister is a master of light and composition–capturing his subjects with beauty and strength. But Justin’s own light was growing dim. Chronic health issues had plagued him for years, and his body was no longer able to keep up with the demands of hauling around heavy equipment to photo shoots.


“An autoimmune disease wrecked my kidney, and I eventually ended up needing a transplant. I’ve also had major issues with my spine, and have had several surgeries. When you’re faced with that in your 20s, you re-evaluate your life really quickly. That’s when I decided to pursue my true passion of photography. I’ve been doing it for nine years, but up until recently, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep going.”


Fortunately for Justin, he did find a kidney donor–his pharmacist, who also happened to eventually become his wife.


“She’s helped me out in so many ways! The condition I had actually required chemo treatment, and I was on so many medications. I was in and out of the pharmacy so many times. That’s how we met.”


Even though Justin’s health rebounded after his transplant, he still needed intensive physical therapy for his spinal issues.


“I had a bunch of back surgeries, even spinal fluid leaks, and nerve damage. I’ve been through physical therapy five different times and had been on super high dose pain medicine. My body had gotten so out of whack and out of balance. I really needed to do something different.”


Justin had been hired by Anna Woods of SheStrength to take photos for her website, and he was intrigued by her approach to health and wellness.


“I’ve worked out my whole life and I thought I knew what I was doing. But I obviously didn’t because my body was so off. I was so unbalanced and still in a lot of pain. I trust her though, and decided to give it a shot.”


Nine months later, and Justin has seen tremendous results working with Anna.


“I had to unlearn so many things. I had so many injuries that I thought I wouldn’t recover from. But the way her workouts are set up, I am doing two or three movements at once, it’s so efficient. I’ve seen major results already. My core strength is up, and I’ve never even done one crunch with her! I’m stronger, more functional, and I can carry all my equipment and get through my day without having to hire someone to do it for me!”


Through her work with Justin, Anna has not only helped Justin regain his strength, she’s helped him save his business–his passion.


“I went from barely being able to bend over, to being able to lift 300 pounds! Other people notice too. My parents were like ‘You started working out again!’ I told them I’d been working out 5 days a week for years! But now I’m getting results. She thinks really deeply about every client’s specific needs–it’s not a cookie cutter thing.”


And the biggest result of all is something that can’t be seen to the naked eye, though it’s the one that matters most to Justin.


“We’ve been able to turn muscle spasms off that had been pinching nerves for years. And for the past five years, my MRIs show my spine has been getting worse–except this year. This is the first time where it actually improved! I’m getting my life back!”

To check out Justin’s work, visit:


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