I don't do a lot of engagement sessions, mainly because I don't offer wedding packages, and most engagement sessions are done by the wedding photographer. I also prefer to work with children who haven't yet learned to be self conscious about how they look or what others think of them. But when Anthony approached me about purchasing a gift certificate for an engagement session as a Valentine's Day gift for his fiance, Heather, I knew I would not regret saying yes.
Anthony and Heather are both the type of person that never apologizes for who they are, and, like the children I photograph, they seem as if they haven't yet learned how to be self conscious. They are both unabashedly real, quirky, and full of life. They inspired me to think outside my box. When Anthony said he wanted his new Harley Davidson motorcycle to be a main fixture of the session, I will admit I was a little nervous. I'd never posed anyone on a motorcycle before, but I was definitely up for the challenge.
A couple weeks ago, I had a second opportunity to volunteer my time for a cause I believe in with all my heart. After the success of the Mini Sessions for Kindness, I was approached by Jennifer of Regan's Acts of Kindness to photograph a big event. They held an outdoor movie night, complete with vendors, snacks, and activities. I can't remember having so much fun photographing an event.
Whenever I photograph an event, I always try to get a variety of shots. From the small details that someone took the time to plan out to action shots of guests having fun, from candid moments between a few guests to big crowd shots, and everything in between. This event, though, was a little different for me. This was a celebration, but it was also a type of memorial.
Regan Shetsky was struck by a car earlier this year and killed in the parking lot of her preschool while her dad, a firefighter, was dropping her off. She was only three years old. The story of this tragedy reverberated throughout the community. The Shetsky family is well known and well loved. Even people, like myself, who had never met Regan were touched by her story. When I first read about what happened, I cried and hugged my own three year old a little tighter. Not long afterward, I started hearing about Regan's Acts of Kindness. Through their grief, the Shetsky family chose to honor their little girl by encouraging others to spread kindness, to bring some of the happiness to others that Regan brought to everyone who knew her. The movement already has over 5,000 followers on the Facebook page, and countless posts from people sharing their stories of acts of kindness given or received in Regan's name.
Regan's Acts of Kindness also has a number of projects that they are raising money to support. They have already installed a beautiful pavilion at The Wild Animal Park in Chittenango. They are also working toward a playground expansion at a local school and a memorial for Regan. Regan's Movie Night raised funds for those projects.
I was recently approached by another photographer to take part in a mini session event to raise money for a local charity called Regan's Acts of Kindness. I'd heard about what the organization was doing and knew the story, but had not yet been involved. I knew I wanted to do something to support them, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. A third photographer signed on and we hashed out the details. We decided to donate the entire fee for each mini session directly to the charity. The event was advertised on the Regan's Acts of Kindness Facebook page, and families from all over Central New York started contacting us.
Cassandra Zingaro - photographer, mom, wife, owner of HeartStrings Photography and first time blogger