Months after purchasing my first DSLR during a women's group one day at church, a friend shared the story about friends of theirs whose 8 year old daughter, Haley, was battling a very rare form of brain cancer called Medulloblastoma. They were in the midst of planning her birthday party, a big celebration at a beach park in Waikiki with family and friends coming in from all parts of the world -- she was so loved and they knew it was probably her last birthday. It dug up some new emotion in me, this desire to know them and their struggle, to help in some way. I wasn't a doctor, I didn't have money, I had no resources to offer... but I had my camera. I asked my friend to introduce us and I ended up photographing Haley's princess party, one of the most eye opening opportunities I've had to date.
I only met Haley on that one day, but her spunk and warmth touched my life in a pretty incredible way. I followed along with the family through her CaringBridge blog even after we moved and continued to cheer her on through all the suffering no child should have to endure. Haley kept fighting through her 10th birthday -- through loss of speech and movement, radiation, recovery, and relapse. The disease took her life on July 8, 2014.
Her mother Wendy posted just before Haley passed, "every time I've given an update on Haley, it has been with hope. Hope is something we have lost almost a year ago and replaced with joyful living in the moment." Their struggle gripped me- constantly in the back of my mind as fodder to do something more with the skills God has given me to bless others in a memorable way.
My own journey has taken many turns since our time in Hawaii and photographing Haley's 9th birthday. I've moved 4 times, had a daughter of my own, and worked hard to grow my business in a way that serves my family, clients, and is true to the mission God lays on my heart. As I've developed my skills and my clarity of that mission, I've felt this additional nudge on my heart recently to take it further.
I've always believed in the power of this work to influence emotion and celebrate love; I believe that it's important for all my clients to cherish their little moments and invest in telling the story of our lives to future generations. I also believe in the power of giving and that our life's events-- the people we meet along the way -- are not circumstantial. As I prayed about where I could lend my work for others in need, I was reminded of Haley's story. I've also witnessed a new friend this year loose her mother to cancer and seen how she cherishes the joyful images of her and her mother together taken just before she died. My heart was stirred... and then I came across the Magic Hour Foundation.
Magic Hour's mission:
"We are a national network of professional photographers who look to serve individuals and families fighting cancer. We do this by coordinating a photo session to celebrate the truly important things in life through photography. These charitable portrait sessions provide an opportunity for families to feel special and strong while they relax, smile, and enjoy time with loved ones. Above all, we strive to express compassion and love as we support them, no matter the outcome of their battle."
While their mission statement speaks volumes, another aspect that drew me towards this charity is the fact that every family photographed receives beautiful 5x7 prints in a custom, keepsake box along with the digital files from their shoot. If you know me or my business at all, you know how I value images in print. Sessions are 100% free and focus on joy of family, no matter the circumstances or outcome ahead.
I am so honored to be a part of this community and able connect with families who will truly cherish the images we create in a powerful way.
To learn more about the Magic Hour Foundation, check out their website here.
Could you or someone you know benefit from a Magic Hour session? Photographers are nationwide, ready to serve you so apply directly from their website to be matched with one in your area ❤️