One of the perks of what we do is the wonderful variety of projects we get to work on. That really is great but once in a while, an exceptional job comes along that inspires and motivates us to become better people (not just photographers) and fuels the spark that keeps us passionate and enthused about our work. Donate Life was one of those exceptional projects.
The job seemed straightforward: advertising agency Fahlgren Mortine contacted our office to ask if we would shoot portraits for Donate Life Ohio of people whose lives had been impacted in one way or another by organ donation. The timeline and task list was just like a lot of the location lifestyle shoots we do: seek out and lock in the perfect location, assemble a rockstar crew, review the shot list with the client, plan the shoot logistics, develop a shoot schedule. Once all the prep is done we pack up all the props, wardrobe and equipment and travel to location, stage our gear, dress/style and light the sets, meet the models or subjects for the photos, and finally, shoot. -Similar to many projects we work on – except that it was completely different. This was exceptional because this shoot could truly make the world better place to be. We could inspire change, promote action and help save lives. From start to finish, we were committed to more than just our photography work: we were committed to support the mission set forth by Donate Life Ohio.
Donate Life Ohio is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and encouraging citizens to join the Donor Registry. There are about 120, 000 people in the United States waiting for life-saving organ transplants, and Donate Life Ohio is committed to educating, encouraging and inspiring the community to get involved and save lives by registering. We were honored to have been involved in such a powerful project.
The residential location we scouted and secured was perfect because of its great indoor and outdoor space we had to work with. We were also able to fulfill our client’s request to not only shoot environmental portraits of our subjects but also to have a white seamless sweep set running simultaneously. We were able to do so thanks to our talented associate photographer, Anita Kowlaski who shot our subjects on the white sweep set. Our crew worked hard to stay on schedule and both sets ran smoothly and efficiently. One fun (and welcomed!) challenge we were faced with was incorporating the Donate Life Ohio green armchair into each of our shots. This was an important component of the shoot because of the symbolism of the chair… –For every life that is lost, there is an empty favorite chair (or bed, desk, etc.) that is left behind. Everyone who donates is helping lower the number of empty chairs. The chair is also special, as we learned on set, as it serves as a comforting platform for those affected by organ donation to share their stories.
And what beautiful stories they were! We were astounded by the strength and grace of the wonderful people we had the pleasure of photographing on those two shoot days. We met donors, recipients, patients waiting for a donor, and family members of loved ones lost while waiting. We spent time getting to know each person and developing a rapport with them so they would feel comfortable enough to truly emote and share their experiences and stories in an authentic way. Adults, children, families, and friends (who came from as far away as Atlanta, GA) sat before our lenses and opened up their hearts to us. It was a truly emotional and rewarding experience for all involved.
While we hold ourselves to the same high standard of work with every single job, sometimes the “job” becomes more than the creative process. Sometimes we find ourselves better people after all is said and done. With the Donate Life Ohio job, we not only found ourselves better, but we left that job feeling as though we made a difference in the world and that our work could potentially help save lives. We encourage everyone reading this blog today to take the time to visit the Donate Life Ohio website and join the registry – it truly is life changing gift that we all have the power to give.