We all have a part to play in this world, a mission, a purpose, a higher calling,
whatever you choose to call it.
Intro by Skip Cohen
February is Recruitment Month for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I've been a NILMDTS Ambassador for many years and couldn't be more proud to be associated with this team of photographers and artists who give back!
This is the third installment of volunteer stories this month at SCU. Emily Crump's "Why" is in the spotlight. And like so many of NILMDTS's members, there's a personal connection. In Emily's case, it started with a friend in need. Like so many of the volunteers, the relationship that grows between the family and the photographer becomes life-changing for everybody involved.
After you've read Emily's story, click on the banner above or at the end of today's post and find out how you can become more involved. It's an amazing organization giving photographers the ability to capture images to be cherished for a lifetime.
by Emily Crump
It was August 2010 when I received the call. My friend, someone that I knew and had been “doing life” with for a few years, needed me. She was pregnant with her second son and had just received the painful news he had gone home to be with Jesus, and she was going to be bringing him into the world today. She knew that I had just started my photography business and asked me to take what would be some of her most treasured photos.
Her son’s name is Jonathan, and I say “is” because he is very much alive in their hearts and minds. At that time, I was a very new photographer. I had not taken many sessions, built up a client base, or done a session like I was about to do. I was terrified that I was not good enough, but I also knew that it wasn’t a coincidence that I was asked.
We all have a part to play in this world, a mission, a purpose, a higher calling, whatever you choose to call it. For me, mine is based on a verse in the Bible…
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
Although I was terrified, I knew I had to take these photos of Jonathan for my friend…it was my calling. Their session was beautiful. I was there to quietly photograph his birth and capture the love that these parents shared for their little one. While I photographed, we remarked on his little fingers and toes, his little ears, and all the ways he resembled his big brother.
When the session was complete, I exited the room, ran down to my car, and cried. Through my tears, I thought about what I did, and I knew if I ever got a call like that again, I would do it. That is when I applied to be a NILMDTS volunteer.
Now, I would like to tell you that the application was easy, and I was accepted right away but that was not the case. In fact, my first application was rejected, and I was heartbroken. But I was determined. I used all the photography critiques provided by NILMDTS in my first application to practice and improve my skills. I also focused on learning auxiliary lighting, which is very important to NILMDTS sessions.
It took 4 years of practicing and prepping until I was ready to apply again and in 2014, I was accepted as an Affiliate Photographer.
Over the years I have met and photographed numerous families and their precious little ones. Each little baby is important, loved, remembered, and treasured. Every little one matters. And I am honored to be there and make sure they have the most perfect photos.
Almost 10 years later, I think about my friend and little Jonathan after every baby I photograph. Grateful that I was given that chance to serve her family. I feel the same way about every family I meet through NILMDTS. Some might think that I am giving to them, but really, I see it as the other way around.
About Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
NILMDTS is seeking volunteer photographers and digital retouch artists (DRAs) to volunteer. Even during the pandemic, many hospitals look to NILMDTS photographers as essential workers. If you are comfortable or able to go into hospitals, we need photographers to capture the only moments parents will spend with their precious babies. NILMDTS is also in need of DRAs where you can volunteer from your home. Since the pandemic, retouching sessions have increased by 132%. This includes medical providers and bereaved parents submitting photographs for retouching.
Since 2005, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep has gifted complimentary remembrance portraits to parents experiencing the death of a baby. For many, these priceless images serve as a critical step in the healing process.
Having done over 40,0000 complimentary portrait sessions, NILMDTS works with photographers and digital retouch artists from around the world to offer grieving families the gift of photography to honor and validate the legacy of their precious babies.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.