for two days last month, i was honored to be part of a group of photographers, through a program called flashes of hope, who, collectively, created portraits of somewhere around 200 kids at camp joy. these groups of kids have cancer. pediatric cancer. just the name is, unfair. not right. most of them are at a point where they were healthy enough to go to camp for a week and just be kids. just enjoy the summer, away from a hospital, away from treatments. except for a few, if i didn’t already know, i would never have known.
even so, on the first day of the drive up, i wondered and worried about how i was going to react to the kids and in turn, how i was going to make images of them. these portraits were important. they were for them, for their families. memories of happy days at summer camp. the significance of their meaning weighed heavy in my heart. i shared my worries with gabriella, who volunteered to help as my assistant. shocked, she asked me why i would photograph them any differently than i would photograph anyone else. brilliant. i opened the windows, let the wind in, breathed deeply, changed my thoughts and did what i always do headed to every shoot ~ i clear my head, open my heart and pray that i am open to seeing all the moments that will be presented to me.
we had about 5-10 minutes with each of them. their ages ranged from around 8 to 17. normal in all outward ways, until i looked into their eyes. through those eyes, i could see deep into their souls. they didn’t hide from me. they looked me straight in my eyes. they wanted to take in every moment, every sound, every sight, every breath, every word. they were (are) amazing individuals. they were (are) beautiful examples of living in the moment. their depth made my knees buckle. gabriella and i left that afternoon with both a little sadness and gratefulness, but also with filled hearts and souls.
their light shines bright…