Community Outreach Through Photography in Denver

A big part of my life over the last twelve years has been involvement with kids in our community.  It started with being on the PTA at my kids’ schools.  My involvement grew into running fundraisers and eventually as PTA president. That evolved into my involvement with Colorado Youth At Risk.  Over the last couple years I have enjoyed working with the Alliance of Professional Women on the Community Outreach Committee. Our committee is focused on serving women and children within the community doing things like providing and serving meals for a local women’s shelter, supplying holiday gifts for women and children in need, and helping kids in the foster care system. Recently, my committee did a Senior Photo Extravaganza for students at New Legacy Charter School. The school provides high school education AND childcare for pregnant or parenting teens, most of whom live below the poverty level. This year the school has nearly 30 students graduating and I, with a group of six other photographers and a half dozen volunteers, created senior photos for about 16 of those soon-to-be-grads. It was a fun afternoon with a bunch of really wonderful people.

Now I realize lack of senior photos is a pretty first world problem to have. Please don’t misunderstand – APW does many other projects for kids and the community at large. We have helped with baby clothes and college buses for the school in the past. But the school’s director knew me as a photographer, and mentioned that the kids would really love to do senior photos. As a business owner, I first looked at this and wondered if I could do a special rate for the kids at the school. However I decided it was unfair to the people who pay full price for my work to offer something so drastically different to these students. But it continued to bother me that there was something these kids wanted, that I could provide, and it was so far out of their reach. And then I had the idea to offer it for free.

I approached the APW Outreach Committee and suggested we put on a senior photo shoot for these kids. Get photographers to volunteer to photograph, edit, and deliver digital files. Get volunteers to assist the photographers and coordinate all the people. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science donated tickets for all the students, photographers, volunteers, and some of the students' families, so we could use the museum as a photo backdrop in case the weather was bad. We had the beautiful grounds of City Park. And APW Outreach Committee would provide a printed photo of each student as a keepsake.

Having your senior portrait made is a pretty normal thing for most American kids to do, and kids who have children in their teens are not living a typical senior experience. They are dealing with the world as adults, ready or not. As photographers, there aren’t tons of ways that we can give back to the community through our actual services. However this little project, providing this fun, old-fashioned, youth-focused, all-about-you experience was something we could give these kids and provide our services in a way that we hope will give them joy and happy memories they can keep for a lifetime.

Senior Photo at DMNS in Denver
Senior Photos of young woman
Senior Photo at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Senior Photos at City Park
A volunteer and a senior behind the scenes

And a really terrific side benefit of this event was the reinforcement of my love of the photography community here in Denver.  Six women, besides myself, volunteered to donate their time and talent to this event.  What a joy to be part of a community that wants to give back and who are more focused on how we can help others than worrying about competition or compensation.  Thank you so much to Lisa Turner Photography, Amy Wiles Photography,Jamie Kraus Photography, Highway 4 Photography, Keiko Matsuno Photography, and Cooper's Creek Photography for all your time and effort and flexibility around this project.

Group photo of volunteers
Volunteer photographers and students

We had a great time with the students at NLCS, I may expand this project to other schools next year. Let me know if you are interested in participating or know of a school or organization that could use our support.

Want to see more photos?  Check out some other senior photos here.

Have questions about senior photos? Contact me!