Flashes of Hope is a photography based charitable organization that raises funding for fighting children's cancer. One of the main purposes of Flashes of Hope is to provide pro bono portrait photography for local pediatric cancer patients. As the founders realized (parents of a child with cancer) many families who lose their children don't have any good portraits of their child after they pass, just various snapshots and camera phone pictures.
The Minneapolis chapter, led by Pat Barry, had an on-site environmental portrait session this July at Camp Courage, outside of the Twin Cities along a lovely lake. There were several campers and their families in attendance, and one of the great things about this program is the campers were allowed to bring families and friends with them to enjoy their time at camp. There were around 10 photographers who came out, and between us all, we were assigned camp areas to cover. And then it was a very casual, fast-paced and low-gear environmental shoot. Which was fun! If the camper wanted to be with a friend in his picture, no problem! I tried to keep this relaxed for them with no pressure to pose in any way or be anything other then what they were, a kid having fun on a lovely summer day.
I heard about this project from Steve Niedorf, one of the greats of Minneapolis photography, and jumped at the chance to be involved. One of the things I've struggled with as I've made a living (somehow) as a photographer, is the idea of making an image just to be used in some type of promotional way - whether adverting, retail, personal promotion, whatever - and not getting to use photography much on something with real meaning. When I read about the organization, I thought of my own young children and realized I couldn't imagine in any way what this would be like to deal with. I was lucky to have my friend John Guthrie with me to help out, as much as an emotional support as a photo assistant. I, frankly, feared that this would be a depressing experience, which I know makes me sounds shallow. Once there, and seeing all of these families able to spend time together, away from hospitals and doctors, I saw how relaxed and happy everyone was, which of course, became contagious to me as well.