It's so easy to snap a photo on our phones and cameras that we can often take photographs for granted. And with apps like Facebook and Instagram, it's easier than ever to collect a record of our friends and families and adventures together.
But what if we didn't have access to all of that? How much more difficult would it be to remember the people and experiences that mean the most to us?
That's a reality that exists for a number of children growing up in the US's foster care system. Without the same resources that we take for granted, many children find it difficult to keep a record of their lives, and some age out of foster care with few photos to chronicle their childhood.
I had no idea that this situation existed for so many kids, until I met Karen Segal. She is the co-founder of an organization called Photo Safe, whose mission is to provide those photos that kids in foster care might not otherwise have. They do this by sending volunteer photographers to photograph the kids at special events or organized photo days. Then they print out the photos and give them to the kids for them to keep. Karen told me that everyone -- from the kids to the foster care workers who support them -- look forward to the meetings when photos are handed out. Most meetings aren't nearly as happy.
Providing photos is such a simple service, but I learned its value several weeks ago when I took photos of dozens of children and their families at a Back to School event hosted by Forestdale. There was one little boy who smiled when I showed him his image on my camera and then gently hugged my leg. So many of the kids were overjoyed to not only have their picture taken, but to have someone care enough to spend a few minutes to make their day a little brighter. Unfortunately I can't share the photos I took of all these smiling, laughing children (because they are in foster care there are lots of security concerns about their identity and so on), but I had so much fun doing what I love for these kids who took so much joy from it. I wish all my clients were this much fun!
Last week I photographed another event with some young women at the Good Shepherd organization in Manhattan. Although they were a little more hesitant about having their picture taken, many of the young women were just as excited as the kids from Forestdale. And even though the idea is for me to help these kids record their memories, I feel like I'm the one walking away with another cherished memory.