Intro by Skip Cohen
For the last few weeks we've had several great guest posts from the crew at Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. This series started with a guest post from the mother of a baby who was photographed thanked to NILMDTS's, Vicki Zoller.
In this new guest post Cliff Lawson, President and member of the NILMDTS Board of Directors, shares the concerns he had before joining the organization. He's very open about what kept holding him back, keeping him from getting involved.
Over and over again, I've heard the same scenario, but here's the very cool thing about this. I also hear an amazing story from every photographer who gets involved about how they felt after their first shoot. Over and over again they question why they didn't get involved sooner and then express, often with a tear or two, the incredibly genuine feeling they had helping a family get through one of the most difficult situations any family can face.
March is recruitment month and NILMDTS needs photographers. Learning how you can get involved is just a click away.
This is the most rewarding thing I have ever done with my camera.
I am Cliff Lawson, a portrait photographer in Parker, Colorado. I am also an affiliate photographer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and currently the president of the board of directors for that organization.
My involvement began a little over five years ago after a conversation with another affiliate photographer. He encouraged me to check out the organization, which I did and asked myself the same question many of you would ask yourself, “Could I do this?” While I was certainly drawn to the mission, I was hesitant…well, you know…the unknown. I spent the next ten days or two weeks pulling virtual daisy petals—I’ll do it—I won’t do it—I’ll do it—I won’t do it.
Along about that time I was getting a haircut and mentioned this to the lady cutting my hair—what’s left of it—and she pointed her finger at me and said. “You need to do this. I lost my son 20 years ago and they never let me see him. I would give anything to have what you will be able to give those families.” I applied the next day.
So looking back, I know the only reason I hesitated to apply was a degree of fear. But fear of what?
Exactly…the fear of what. I didn’t know what. The what was unknown and that is what we all tend to fear—the unknown.
I bring that up because when we talk to photographers about becoming an affiliate, we hear the same thing over and over, “What you guys do is wonderful but I could never do it. I’m too emotional” or “I can’t do that, it is too hard” or quite often, “Oh I couldn’t do that because I would cry.”
To address that last one, crying is OK. This is a sad situation and expressing your feelings along with the family is normal and certainly acceptable. However many—probably most—photographers will tell you that they are so busy doing the session, that they are way too busy to get too emotional. When you are concerned about getting the poses, making sure the lighting is right, and doing all the things you would do for ANY portrait session, there is little time for getting too involved in the emotion of the moment.
I will admit that I can get emotional during the editing/processing of the images, but it is all worth it when I send out those images of that family’s baby that never made it home. I am giving them something only our profession can give. Truly, it is priceless.
Let me cut to the chase here: WE NEED more photographers. The demand outstrips our ability to serve. You do not need to be a professional, but you do need to do professional-level work. (Some of our best affiliates are advanced amateurs.) The ability to use a flash in a VERY dark room is a requirement. While many sessions are daytime with window light, some are in the NICU with light that is marginal, at best.
We require you submit images demonstrating your skill with both natural light and auxiliary lighting. We need to know you can deliver portrait-quality images.
PLEASE consider applying and helping us give back to so many families who need our help.