school picture day

Can we talk for a minute? The importance of portraits...

Last year I was chosen to do the school portraits of a very special place,  Wings Learning Center! My really good friend and lighting mentor, Joerg Lehmann, had previously held the position, and told me he even strongly considered flying in from Australia to continue this project, but referred them to me instead. The staff and students here are some amazing people... I am so happy to have been invited back! Wings has programs for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder from age 5 to age 22. Some students are non-verbal, but many also have difficulty connecting with a camera or another person.

My assistant Vicki, who is a para-aid as well as a photographer, and I were employing all our skills to connect and capture portraits. We jumped around, sang, sat quietly, whatever they needed to share a bit of a glimpse into their personality. This particular guy really touched my heart. Ryan sat for me last year, and I was happy to see him a year older! Several frames in, we were having a tough time getting a shot. I remembered that his teacher had said something to him about it being picture day so we can get a photo for mom... I said, "Let's smile for mom! I love you mom!" and to my delight, he said, "I love you mom!" and gave me this smile. I had all the feels... almost cried right there and then. Many high fives were exchanged, and his smile is imprinted in my heart.

"I love you Mom!" Ryan, October 24, 2017

"I love you Mom!" Ryan, October 24, 2017

Capturing this image with this story for his family fills me with joy. The power of a printed portrait takes us to another place. People often tell me that their kids won't cooperate in a portrait session, but I can get them to pay attention, smile and show their personality more times than not! I connect on the universal language of love and respect, with a dash of fun and curiosity...