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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just a Boy and His Dog? Come meet Zack and Jazz and Find Out! - Maris Ehlers Photography

One of the reasons I hesitated in starting a "blog" was because of a lack of something compelling to say, and a witty way in which to say it. However, one of the sessions I had this weekend has a wonderful story to go along with it, and today is a nice day for a story, I think.

Earlier this year, I started focusing my sessions around fundraising opportunities for services and organizations that I care about. My first fundraiser was for the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery. Together, with sessions from new and current clients a like, we raised almost $1,000. My second fundraiser was with Image for a Cure, a Breast Cancer Research Fundraiser, and with just a few sessions raised several hundred dollars. As 2010 rolls around, I've been trying to decide which organizations I would like to support through my photography (wouldn't it be nice to give time, talents and money to all of them). Part of this decision is also based on which organizations my clients are also most interested in supporting through my work.

In preparation for 2010, I placed a post on my facebook photography page for a "dog" model (to see my photography page, click here). I was hoping to get some shots of a cute dog and a couple of kids for a yet un-decided fundraiser focusing on animals, and needed some images for promotional / advertising materials so out went the call.

Christine, a friend of several friends whom I hadn't ever met, answered my "ad" via a connection we share with their past and our present preschool teacher, Lindi Lund. As it turns out, their son Zack has a cute dog named Jazz. However, it soon became evident that there was much more to the story than just a boy and his dog.

I'd like to introduce you to Zach, Jazz and family through his mom Christine's own words...

"Hi, Maris,

My son's name is Zack and he was diagnosed with autism 7 years ago. As you can imagine, we were devastated. But, we had surely met wonderful people who have gone beyond what we could ever ask, like Lindi Lund!

Jazz is a laberdoodle who was given to us completely free by the Minnesota Hearing and Service Dogs. A HUGE welcome into our family. We would have been crazy to get a puppy and my husband had never had a dog, so he was a little apprehensive. But we were blessed with Jazz almost a month ago.

We were placed on a waiting list for a service dog when Zack was 8 years old, so things with him have changed.

Zack used to run away from us, a lot. He no longer does, but the service dog is a huge help in this area. Zack has his own leash for the dog which is then tethered around him.

So if Z decides to run, Jazz just stands there resisting Zack's pull. He is also a great comforter when Zack may have a melt down.

But the most important thing to me is that Zack has a friend."

So you can see how a simple request for a dog to photograph turned into something a little more special, and the mother in me was touched by the mother's voice in Chris' email. So, it seems as though my next fundraising opportunities have been chosen for me, and I am grateful. I also wanted to give this wonderful family the gift of some casual photos now that their family is complete with Jazz, so here is a sampling:

There's a lot of love in this family, and I wanted to capture just a tiny bit of that!

Here's Sydney, who while she doesn't like getting her picture because "my mom shows them to everyone she knows", seemed to enjoy it... just a little.

And here's Ty, who would rather have been practicing karate on his dad than get his picture taken. :)

Here is Zack and his Dad, Rocky. There are several from this series that are my favorites - who can resist a loving picture of a dad and his son?

This series made me cry when I was shooting it, for no reason other than I could just feel Chris' love for Zack in her embrace and see it in her eyes. No photograph can capture the true essence of any mother holding her child, but I can always feel it when I'm near it. It is powerful, humbling and amazing, and I feel so privileged to be a part of such intimate moments in people's lives.


At this point in this post it should be no surprise that I will be donating 20% of all session fees from January through March to the Hearing and Service Dogs of Minnesota

I hope you will join me in celebrating the love in your family with a photo session with me that will not only help you celebrate the moments in your family but will also help someone else gain indepedence and assistance through the help, love and support of a service dog.

If you bring something to your session from their wishlist, you will receive a complimentary 5 x 7 image from your session from me as a thank you.



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