Want a FREE photo session?

28 Mar

All you have to do is organize a donation drive at your school, church, work…wherever, to support the Wichita Children’s Home Street Outreach Services.

Here’s a list of what they are currently in need of:

Street Outreach Services

Individually packed snack food (Ramen & Mac n Cheese in the cups, cheese & crackers, lunch buckets, nuts, trail mix, granola bars, instant oatmeal, beef jerky, etc.)

Individual First Aid Kits (They are OK on these for now)

Juice boxes (100% Juice)

Individual Laundry Soap

Journals

Finger Nail Clippers

Food Certificates (Dillons, Fast Food, Quik Trip- $5 increments)

Bottled Water (They are ok on water for now)

Sweat suits & Hoodies (Dark, plain colors. Size LG-XXXL)

Travel Size toiletries

Travel size baby wipes

BRIDGES (This is where kids go when they come in to SOS and enter a residential program)

Alarm Clocks

Towels/Washcloths

Dish Sets

Flatware sets

Glasses/Plastic Cups

Vaccuums

Twin size bedding

Kitchen Utensils/Bakeware

Pots & Pans

Laundry Hampers/baskets

Microwaves

Irons & Ironing Boards

All Departments

Walmart/Target Gift cards

Puzzles- 1000 pieces+

Xbox & Nintendo Cube Games (Non-Violent)

Current VHS or DVD movies (G, PG)

Socks & Underwear (Adult Sizes)

DVD Games (Scene It, Family Feud)

CD Walkmans & Stereos

Activity Passes (Roller Skating, Movies, Ice Skating, etc.)

Just shoot me an email at jenwhite0907@gmail.com to let me know when you’ll have the items ready for pick up and when you want to schedule your shoot. Easy huh?

Not Happy…

8 Mar

image

This is right in the middle of the area that is supposed to be remodeled into my studio space.

*sniff sniff*

*sob*

*WAH!*

Waiting

8 Mar

This mama is one of my OpLove gals. She’s waiting to meet her baby but she’s also anxiously awaiting the arrival of her husband. He’s been serving overseas for about 7 months. He’ll be home soon for some R&R and to hopefully be here for the birth of their first child. Then he’ll go back to finish out his tour.

We had a little fun playing with light

It’s possible you’ll see their homecoming shoot here on the blog very soon. And if not that, some family photos for sure!

Until then- prayers for a safe return for daddy, and a safe and healthy delivery for mama. Hopefully with her love at her side!

Giving It Away

10 Feb

I want to address something that is probably not going to be a popular opinion. But this is my blog and it’s my opinion and I’m going to state it. So there.

There has been a lot of talk lately about “giving it away” or working for free. Yes, photography is a profession. People get paid to take pictures. I get it. So do I. I like getting paid, just like everyone else. It pays the bills, buys new equipment and keeps my husband from strangling me some days.

Photography is a business. Let me restate that. Photography IS a business. But, Photography is not JUST business. Photography is my passion. I’d like to think I have a little talent for it and I LOVE doing it. But the money is not the only reason for doing it. For me, it’s not even the major reason for doing it.

My other passion is giving back. I love to help people. At this moment in my life, money is not the most effective way for me to do that. I wish I could write a big fat check to all of the organizations I care about. To all of the people I care about. But I just can’t. What I CAN do is leverage my time and what little talent the Good Lord gave me and use them to benefit the cause.

 I do volunteer work for several organizations and most of the time, that volunteering means taking and donating photos. Some photographers don’t see the value in this. But here’s the secret. I don’t do it to GAIN value. I do it to GIVE value. *Gasp!* I know, right? Not everything I do with my camera is a marketing ploy, a business venture, a means to gain exposure for my business. Sometimes I take give pictures, just because I WANT TO.

Does it benefit my business? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But when I agree to provide photography for a charity event, or take OpLove photos of a deploying soldier’s family, it’s not a business decision for me. It’s a heart decision. It makes me feel good. I like to feel good. Feeling good rocks.

I realize the photography profession is flooded these days with the onset of digital photography. There is a lot more competition than there used to be and people are grabbing for their share of an oversaturated market. But the truth of the matter is, I bought my camera. I own my time. I own my talent. They are mine to share as I please, or not to. The decision is mine to make. I volunteer and donate to the causes that are important to me just as I would if I were giving money, or food, or clothing, or any other resource. And I don’t judge others based on what they give or don’t give of themselves, or who they give or don’t give it to.

The funny thing to me is, if I went out, made a million bucks shooting photos and gave every cent away, I would be a hero. But, if I went out and did a million bucks worth of photography for free, I would be a pariah amongst some other photographers. Where is the logic in that?

*Hopping down off my soapbox and ducking for cover*

Another HERO home!

23 Jan

I love photography. I love the people I meet. I love their stories. Every single session I photograph. I love them all.

But I have a special soft spot for my OpLove shoots. I’ve done several this year already and look forward to more. These sessions are completely volunteer. I don’t make a dime off of them but they pay me so richly every time. And each time I get a call for one, I’m honored to serve the families who sacrifice so much for us. And every homecoming means another one has returned to his or her family, safe and sound. And that makes my heart happy.

Lynn emailed me a couple weeks ago to request a homecoming shoot for her husband’s return. I liked Lynn immediately and looked forward to meeting her at the airport. Her last email to me before the session said, “We’ll be the group in the red shirts.”

They were pretty easy to spot! The kids were sprawled across the airport floor coloring signs and chattering excitedly. They had been surprised earlier to learn that they were going to see their dad come home. The adults in the group had told them they were going to see a movie. They didn’t know what was going on when they pulled into the airport parking lot. They were more than happy to ditch the movie in exchange for their dad!

Everyone got into the spirit with matching shirts. Even the smallest member of the family.

I’m always amazed at how calm the wives are. About the time the arrival board says the plane has landed, I’m a nervous wreck. A sweaty plams, heart pounding mess.

Time was passed chatting and meeting one of the other wives whose husband was also returning. Soon it was time to take our places and get ready to welcome him home with a great display of signs, shirts and smiles.

And once the kids saw him walking up the pathway, it was a mad dash to grab him.

Then it was one-on-one hugs for everyone!

The adults got their turn after all the kids had been properly loved on.

Warning: Gratuitous photo of Soldier and Baby. Grab a tissue.

And a group hug just to be sure everyone got a hug. I’m a hugger. I love families who are huggers too.

I’m not entirely sure but I *think* Lynn might be happy to have her husband home.

And I think the feeling is mutual.

Welcome home! Thank you for your service. And Lynn & kids, thank YOU for sacrificing your time with your husband and daddy so that he can do a job that so many of us take for granted. You are ALL heroes to me.

*photos posted with permission from the family

OPLOVE DOD Disclaimer: “The photos and other content of this publication do not imply any endorsement or recommendation by the Department of Defense.”

Homecoming – OpLove

6 Jan

Yesterday morning I got a call from Angie. She explained that her husband was returning from his 5th deployment in 5 years. THAT NIGHT. She almost sheepishly asked if I’d be willing to come shoot the homecoming as part of my volunteer gig with OpLove. Funny thing about those silly photo resolutions I posted last week. One of the things I wanted to do more of in 2011 was homecoming shoots! I made a few quick calls & texts to make arrangements for my kiddos and told her I’d be there.

Later that morning I got a text. Her hubby had hopped a standby flight and would be home 4 hours earlier than we expected! Aggh! No worries, a few more quick texts and we were back in business. I met Angie and the kids at the airport and we settled in to wait for his flight to arrive. (I say “settled” but really we all paced and fidgeted.)

Angie brought a great flag to hold. We waited in the crowded hallway as other flights arrived and people greeted their loved ones and moved along to pick up their luggage.

A few texts, Facebook updates, games and checks of the arrivals board helped to pass the time.

More pacing, waiting, checking and looking hopefully down the pathway. At one point I told Angie I didn’t know how she was holding it all together so well, my heart was pounding and I was so excited for them!

Finally the board said his flight had arrived! After what seemed to be an eternity waiting for them to deboard the plane and appear around the corner…here he comes!

And there SHE goes! At a dead sprint through the airport and straight into the arms of her daddy. Her hero.

And not long after, everyone else got to greet him with hugs, kisses and tears. (Happy ones, of course!)

And then all was right in the world again. Their family is whole. Daddy is home, he’s safe. And they are all together.

I’m so blessed to have been a part of this amazing moment in their family history. Those who know me know that I did a very short term as a military spouse. The Hubs finished his service about 3 months after we were married but he did deploy while we were dating. It is the hardest, most gut wrenching feeling to watch them leave. I have so much admiration and respect for the spouses who hold it all together at home. And as horrible as it is to say goodbye, it is equally as amazing to say “Welcome Home!”

Sadly, the same day as this homecoming, another family learned their son would not return. Please hug your loved ones tight and say a prayer for the Nettleton family of Wichita.

This is why OpLove is so close to my heart. I hope that every family has pre-deployment photos taken. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. OpLove provides these sessions at no cost to the family and for a family whose loved one doesn’t return, just imagine how precious those last photos together would be. If you know someone who is deploying, please encourage them to visit the photographer locator section of the website. There are OpLove photographers all over the country.

*photos posted with permission from the family

OPLOVE DOD Disclaimer: “The photos and other content of this publication do not imply any endorsement or recommendation by the Department of Defense.”

Because we’re worth it.

6 Jan

I got a call a few weeks ago from the lovely and oh-so-sweet Brianne. She explained that she was going through some changes in her life and would like to have a photo session. To make her feel good and to have some photos that were just for her. If you read my last post, you’d know that this was one of my 2011 photo resolutions so I was more than happy to oblige!

We met on an unseasonally warm and sunny January day and she rocked it out!

Brianne has AMAZING eyes!

And as gorgeous as she is on the outside, her inside matches equally. She is such a sweet, fun person and I had a blast spending the afternoon with her.

When was the last time you had portraits done for YOU? Your senior portraits? Are you laying on a studio floor with all of your sports/band/cheerleading memorabilia around you? Isn’t it time to have some great photos of who you are today?

We take photos of our kids, our families, our pets, but we rarely feel like we are “worth it”. Ladies, we are. Don’t forget that!