Giving is Awesome: Round One

Back in December, as some of you may remember, I (along with 537 other photographers) participated in a custom portraiture giveaway known as Giving Is Awesome. As the nominations rolled in and I read the heartbreaking/heartwarming stories of families in our community I knew I wouldn’t be able to choose just one winner. Instead, I decided to meet each family for their own portrait session.

Yesterday it was my extreme pleasure to meet my first Giving Is Awesome family.  And it was awesome. I walked away with such a feeling of joy and gratitude and blessing. Not to mention a heaping plate of delicious brownies! Which, by the way, was three brownies lighter by the time I arrived home. (shhhh…)

Friends, I’d like for you to meet one of the most precious three year olds I’ve ever worked with…

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He loves trains and bubbles, adores his mama and daddy and can kick a soccer ball like a champ.

He’s also a child living with Autism.

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During our afternoon together his parents were so gracious to share his story with me. When he was 14 months his mother started having some concerns (what she called “that nagging mommy feeling”). By 18 months he had his official diagnosis. As you may well imagine their lives have been turned upside down over the last two years and all priorities have shifted toward getting him the best care and treatment possible. Their efforts toward that end are tireless – and inspiring. Seeing the love they have for their son and the ferocity with which they are advocating for him makes the title “parent” carry so much more weight and pride for me. They are the epitomy of what parents should be.

My little friend shares his daddy’s love of soccer. I don’t think his mama knew she was going to be in this next shot – and I love that. To me it sums up so much of what parents do, particularly these parents – watch, wait, encourage…

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And then tickle! (oh how he loved mama’s tickles!)

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Having taught kindergarten in special needs inclusive classrooms I knew that eye contact might be tough for this little dude. But with a little help from Thomas the Train and a lotta help from his mama he did great! In fact, I think the three of us wore out before he did!

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Check out her adorable earrings in this next shot – puzzle pieces for Autism awareness. Very cool.

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Possibly my favorite shot of the day…this makes my mama heart sing…

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And this makes me want to roll up my blue jeans!

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About halfway through our session we got a picture text from the friend who nominated this sweet family…she was somewhere in the park! Of course we texted right back that she must come join us. I wanted to meet her! And you know I had to grab her picture too. 😉

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Thank you for sending such a fantabulous family my way, Miss A!

A funny note about this next shot. It was actually a beautiful spring day here in Huntsville…with temps in the 60’s. But when you have a daddy’s childhood pea coat, an awesome chunky knit hat, and a boy willing to don it all despite the sun you just go with it! I’m telling you what, this little dude was a sport.

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So there you have it. It’s official – giving is awesome. It was such an absolute honor to have this opportunity.

I’ll end with just a brief but sincere word to my new friend —

You are in good hands, dear boy.

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Very, very good hands.

RaDonna & Justin Erin, we are still wiping away the tears from both your entry and the pictures. They are oh so beautiful. We feel so very blessed to have met you and gotten to play with you yesterday. You are an amazing photographer and you have the most tender soul. Thank you for helping us to capture these precious moments for our little man. WE LOVE THEM!!!

Lacey Erin, from looking at these gorgeous photos of such a handsome little man (a 3-year old, at that!), you would NEVER know that eye contact may have been hard to get. You ARE amazing. I’ve always found it to be such a challenge to get eye contact from the 3 & 4-year old set….particularly boys. You always make photographing toddlers & preschoolers look like a walk in the park. My hat (or should I say lens cap?) is off to you!!!

Melissa BEAUTIFUL job!

Allison Erin, thank you so much. You gave a great gift not only to that sweet family but to all of us who love them!

Amy What an awesome gift–truly! You can just see the love. SO awesome of you to share your gift with them. . . I’m in awe of what you captured and the fact that despite shooting at this location numerous other times, you still captured new, fresh, & unique images for this family!

Randy Awesome photos, you are one handsome little man, Atticus we love you!!

Poppie I am sitting here at 7:45a.m. with tears rolling down my cheeks looking at my family. Erin, I have not met you but you are now a member of the family. Atticus, “I wufe you” and buddy we have so much to talk about. RaDonna thank you and Justin for calling late last night to tell us about this event.

Melody Tholstrup Those are the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen…he’s is a shining light of joy!
Give him a kiss for me!
Love, Melody

Martha Oh my gosh Erin, I am in tears reading this. What an awesome thing to do. You captured this little angel in such a wonderful light. Beautiful pictures that I’m sure his family will treasure always. You again amaze us all with your wonderful talent at capturing their essence.

Gina What a blessing this little boy is. Erin I am amazed at the pictures and getting this little man to look at the camera with his soulful eyes. Wiping away the tears…

Jennifer Wow Erin! What a beautiful story of an amazing family. And no one would know that making eye contact was ever a concern unless you told us. I wish this family all the best and I’m sure this little dude is going to do just great!

Kimberly How wonderful!! And there’s something about the soccer shoes shot that i absolutely LOOOOOVE.

Daniel Mendez wow… how nice that you had the chance of doing this… and how nice you are doing all of them! :-)
I could never guess that this handsome little guy would have trouble with eye contact… this makes the photos even better… he has such beautiful eyes and your photos turned out awesome! :-)

Jenn I come to your blog almost daily to see what wonderful things you are doing. You have been a huge inspiration to me. I love the clarity of your images…like I could reach out and touch each person! These are by far one of my favorite sessions of yours. You captured this family perfectly and I’m sure they are thrilled beyond belief to have these pictures for the rest of their lives. What a beautiful testimony to their special bond!

Jenn

Cheairs Graves Erin,
My sister who is starting a photography business in Norfolk, Virginia found your blog and sent me the address. I have a five year old son with autism and was deeply touched by your pictures and comments. What a gift you gave to this family and to many other who have children with special needs.

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