Four years ago, photographer Sarah Morey noticed an opening in her schedule. In the spirit of the holidays, she made a Facebook post offering her services free for any families who wanted Christmas photos but couldn’t afford them.
She had two families respond.
This year, she has 78 families signed up and a pool of 10 photographers slated to help out.
“We schedule them all in one day and meet at the Capitol,” she said. “Then each photographer picks a station.”
The photographers are meeting with the families Nov. 12, where Santa Claus also will be on hand to take Christmas wishes and pose for photos.
Morey said portraits are a big part of her family’s Christmas tradition. She and her husband and daughter take photos annually.
“It’s an inexpensive gift for families to give them out or to use on Christmas cards,” she said.
She wanted to make the same options available to all families in the community.
“Photography is a luxury,” she said. “Some people can’t afford it. It’s not something people want to spend their extra money on if money is tight. So those people don’t get nice portraits? That’s not right.”
She said over the years, she’s taken maternity photos for a couple who returned for a newborn photo, then a 1-year portrait.
“It’s kind of cool,” she said. “You’re recording their family history for them.”
The photos become even more precious as time goes on.
“People don’t often realize how valuable pictures are,” she said. “Especially when you lose someone, photos are the only thing you have left.”
To accommodate the growing need, it has been essential to add more photographers to help.
“All the photographers I have helping are incredibly awesome people,” Morey said. “And it’s easy for us to give. It’s just one day out of our lives.”
And from the photo sessions, often new referrals come or families return as paying customers when they’re able.
“What you give, you get back,” she said. “And the people are usually really appreciative, so grateful.”
Anyone interested in receiving a portrait session or to volunteer as a photographer can email Morey at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the Facebook page Annual Holiday Family Heart Portraits.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at email@example.com.