I get asked to donate my time a lot. I think it’s easy to give away your time as a photographer because every family, business or organization needs (or wants) photos. Years and years ago I decided to only give back to REAL causes (“real” being completely relative and my opinion of course). Babies dying in the NICU or babies healing in the NICU. That’s where my main passion lies. But church is also a big one for me. Or families in need. Cancer patients or hospice. Anyone struggling or suffering that could benefit from a photograph – that’s who I want to give to. When my photos could brighten their day or capture a time they could never get back – that’s when i want to leave my family and work for free.
When a client asked me to come capture the Tri My Best Triathlon by St. Louis Children’s Hospital for kids with disabilities I said yes right away. Being able to capture kids pushing themselves harder than they’ve ever pushed themselves just felt like something I would love.
But of course, like anytime you step outside your comfort zone and give back to someone else, they blessed me way more than my simple photos could ever bless them. I just cried all morning. These kids. You guys, THESE KIDS. They swam, biked and ran with looks of determination, tears of agony and faces full to the brim with joy. Their parents and families ran alongside cheering them on. College kids from Washington University (it was held on their campus) were giving high fives all over the place. Picturing my kids at their soccer games running around easily without thinking while capturing these kids was almost too much to bear – the weight of how lucky we are. I loved these kids. I wanted to scoop them all up and just love on them all day! Instead, I hung back and snapped photos. I didn’t intervene or get in their faces. I clicked and they ran. And biked. And swam (I never got to get inside to see them swimming but I heard it was amazing – there were two other photographers there capturing different parts of the race). It was so so awesome. THEY are awesome.