Intro by Skip Cohen
This requires no explanation from me, except to point out this is the second part in a two-part post series, thanks to Ashley Krapf, baby Christopher's mother who shared her thoughts on the importance of Vicki Zoller's work yesterday. The three images below are from the portrait session Vicki did for Ashley and her family. If a picture really is worth a thousand words, then Vicki's images easily match the complete works of Shakespeare!
A big thanks to Vicki and the entire team at Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I know it sounds pretty sappy, but you guys make me so proud to be part of this industry.
Note: NILMDTS is constantly looking for more volunteers. To find out how you can be involved just click on the link above or at the end of Vicki's post.
My name is Vicki Zoller and I am a photographer and Regional Coordinator for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I have been with this amazing organization for 5 years and have photographed and participated in over 100 sessions for families requesting our services.
NILMDTS is a nonprofit organization of volunteer photographers that provide heirloom quality remembrance photography for families that will not be taking their babies home from the hospital. It is the MOST heartbreaking and the MOST incredibly rewarding photography that I have ever done and probably will ever do.
When I am in that hospital room I feel more like a photographer than any other time I hold my camera. I am creating a lasting, meaningful, and treasured, tangible piece of history for a family that needs something, ANYTHING to hold onto and help get them through some very dark days. I am recording a moment in time that can never come again or be recreated. It is an honor for me to be allowed to do this, to be with these families during an intensely private and painful time in their lives.
The best type of photographer for this volunteer work is one who appreciates the gift they possess and are willing to share that gift in a meaningful and powerful way. While photography skills such as technically understanding your camera settings and how to control artificial lighting are essential, they aren’t the most important thing you will be bringing to a hospital room; your commitment and compassion are your best tools. Your skill, a unique skill that allows you to come into that hospital room and forever record this moment is something you either ‘get’ as a photographer or you don’t.
The photographers I have worked with, trained, and became friends with in this organization have a PASSION for this. There is a chord that resonates in us that tells us, “How can I NOT do this?” How often in life to we get the chance to make this kind of difference? How often do we really get the chance to make something a bit better out of something so horrible? It is a chance to not just stand on the sidelines and say, “Oh, how sad” or to feel powerless. It is an opportunity to know that you are TRULY making a difference.
Many photographers worry about the emotional aspects of doing this special kind of photography but with the training and support we provide, photographers will find they able to slide right into ‘photographer mode’ and provide the services these families need as part of their healing process. Having that camera in front of your face allows you to ‘filter’ the emotions and just concentrate on the job at hand. You are looking at the world through a bit of space holding only a piece of the room at a time and that makes it much easier to complete the session. That isn’t to say that NILMDTS photographers don’t feel the emotions, but we tend to rely on each other as a support system. Plus, we have a good photographers forum at the website for support and education as well.
Photographers interested in volunteering for NILMDTS need to go to the website www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org and apply. Applicants will be asked to submit a series of images demonstrating their use of natural and artificial lighting. If they want more information before applying they can, at the same website, click on the ‘find a photographer’ link and contact a local NILMDTS affiliate that can help answer their questions or email/call our main office in Denver.