Cancer is rough. I’d say that it’s been rough on my family because we’ve lost dear relatives and loved ones, and seen others close to us fight the tough fight and win. But it’s not just my family and it’s not about us. Cancer is rough on all of us. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have a heartbreaking story to tell of somebody that they love dearly having to face the challenges of cancer diagnosis and treatment.
I always feel so helpless when people I care about are dealing with this. I feel like I really want to help, but struggle with finding some way that really can make a difference, some way that really can help. But now I know I have found a way.
Last week I was selected to be a photographer for the Magic Hour Foundation. They are a non-profit foundation and network of professional photographers around the US (and soon to expand outside of the US) that volunteer their services to do portrait work for families of cancer patients and survivors. Our Magic Hour photo sessions give families an opportunity to not only have some beautiful images and memories, but gives them the opportunity to be goofy, have fun, and just be normal with their families. Maybe more importantly, these sessions give families a lasting memory of their loved ones in a crazy world where taking photos often get pushed aside to make time for seemingly other more important things.
MHF founders Alan and Alysa discovered their vision and the difference a camera can make through their friend Ted and Alysa’s little sister Daphne. From the MHF website:
“Magic Hour refers to the half hour at the beginning and ending of each day as the sun transitions and casts a golden yellow glow. It is light at its most beautiful and photographers will wait to capture it. Our recipients are in the magic hours of their lives – some are transitioning out of life on this earth and we aim to capture their beauty and preserve it for their families. Some have overcome and are transitioning into a life with more clarity and purpose, disease-free. We want all cancer warriors to have the opportunity to remember how beautiful they are and how poignant this time is in their life and the lives of their families – free of charge and free of complication.“
So it might have taken me years, but at last I finally feel like I have found a way to help people dealing with cancer as well as a special purpose for my photography. I know that it might sound corny, but since I have started taking photos more seriously, I have always known that I was not going to be the next great wedding photographer (nor did I want to be). I was never going to be the hottest thing on the web or even in Cincinnati. I was never going to be able to put my kid through college by taking beautiful pictures. I know I do good work, and I love taking pictures for others, but I have struggled to figure out exactly how I wanted to use my talent. Now I know.
I want to thank fellow photographer Jen Lucas (from Madison Wisconsin…awesome…check her out!) for pointing me towards MHF. Last fall I met a lovely young woman whose mother was going through cancer treatment. I did her senior pictures and over the last several months have gotten to know their family better. She contacted me recently about family photos (I was honored to be asked) and when I mentioned it to Jen, she hooked me up with MHF. I believe that I am the only photographer in the greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area, and one of the few in the state of Ohio. I feel so honored to have been chosen. My fellow MHF photographers are good – REALLY GOOD. They set the bar high. I hope to meet that bar and give my MHF sessions the same joy and magic that they deliver.
Andy and I have lost many dear friends to cancer. We lost my Uncle Dick to cancer. He was one of a kind and way too young to die when he did. In 2010, we lost his brother Don to cancer, also one of a kind and way too young to die. Don was a photographer. I’d like to think that he’s pretty damn happy about all of this. I’m in the process of trying to get together pics of many of the people that I have cared so deeply about just to lose to cancer’s ugly hand. But in the meantime, here is some digital art that I created not soon after Don died.
And here’s one of Shannon and Don when she was about ten. They were really tight. She misses him terribly. When we flew to Dallas for his services, I truly thought I was seeing my daughter’s heart breaking for real.
If you have family or friends going through cancer, or have recently won their battle, I encourage you to send them to the Magic Hour Foundation website. With a simple application, they will be matched up with a photographer in their local area. Sessions are free of charge, and completely discreet. Photographers can also apply to be a part of the network. To apply or nominate a cancer warrior for a session, click HERE. For more information about applying as a MCF photographer, click HERE.
Just know that today this blog is for all of you who have kicked cancer’s ass and for those of you who are in the process of doing some kicking. I hope you’ll sign up for a session, because we’ll have a whole lot of fun!