Your Light In­ter­na­tional

Serve Daily - - NEWS - By Megan Wall­gren for Serve Daily

Fam­ily pho­tos are trea­sured keep­sakes. Your Light In­ter­na­tional aims to sup­port fam­i­lies by pro­vid­ing pro­fes­sional por­traits to pre­serve fam­ily sto­ries and cul­ture.

The vol­un­teer group of pho­tog­ra­phers was started by Anna Har­ri­son 3 years ago. "I’m a pho­tog­ra­pher and sev­eral years ago I was in a rut and feel­ing dis­sat­is­fied," she said. "I wanted to do it for fam­i­lies who would truly ap­pre­ci­ate hav­ing that gift of a photo."

Har­ri­son had pre­vi­ously spent some time liv­ing in the de­vel­op­ing coun­try of Ar­me­nia. Many of the peo­ple there had noth­ing more than their pass­port pho­tos and af­ter a loved one passed away, they would hang that photo on the wall. "I imag­ined how happy they would be to have a beau­ti­ful fam­ily photo to hang up, to have pride in, to hold onto. I came to feel that a sim­ple, nice, fam­ily photo is some­thing that ev­ery per­son should have," she said.

Har­ri­son re­searched to see if there was any or­ga­ni­za­tions like that she could join, and found out there was a gap in this area. While some or­ga­ni­za­tions worked with hos­pi­tals to pro­vide pho­tos of still­born ba­bies or kids with a ter­mi­nal ill­ness, no one was fo­cus­ing on fam­ily pho­tos.

Har­ri­son part­nered with and was men­tored by an­other Utah pho­tog­ra­pher, Chris Dick­en­son, and Your Light In­ter­na­tional was born.

Your Light In­ter­na­tional part­ners with dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions to reach those fam­i­lies that may not be able to af­ford the high sit­ting fees of a fam­ily por­trait ses­sion. Har­ri­son said this in­cludes more fam­i­lies than you would think. Lo­cal pho­tog­ra­phers vol­un­teer their time and equip­ment to take fam­ily pho­tos at Your Light In­ter­na­tional and part­ner events.

Pho­tog­ra­phers take their time with the fam­i­lies in­volved to make it a good ex­pe­ri­ence that never feels cheap or rushed. They of­ten en­gage the chil­dren by let­ting them take some pic­tures of their par­ents. Har­ri­son re­mem­bered one mother who got emo­tional just watch­ing her daugh­ters take pic­tures of each other and be­ing showed so much kind­ness.

Other tear­ful par­ents have ex­pressed grat­i­tude for get­ting a pic­ture of their whole fam­ily to­gether.

She has of­ten re­ceived thanks from some­one whose fam­ily mem­ber has passed away. They say the pho­tos her or­ga­ni­za­tion took are the only ones they have with that per­son.

Your Light In­ter­na­tional gives each fam­ily a printed 8x10 and a disc of all of the other images, which the pho­tog­ra­phers also vol­un­teer their time to edit.

"It's not a lit­tle thing," Har­ri­son said. "You have to fo­cus on the ba­sic needs but it’s nice to be able to pro­vide a lit­tle bit more, to say, 'This mat­ters too and you’re worth it.'"

Your Light In­ter­na­tional re­lies fully on vol­un­teer pho­tog­ra­phers to get their work done. They are al­ways look­ing for more vol­un­teers. "The more peo­ple in­volved, the more pho­tos we can give," she said.

Har­ri­son said they thank their vol­un­teers by pro­vid­ing free photography workshops and get-to­geth­ers for vol­un­teer pho­tog­ra­phers.

The char­ity also re­lies on do­na­tions for print­ing sup­plies, to book places for events, and to pro­vide snacks for their pho­tog­ra­phers while work­ing.

In the past they have worked with the sev­eral char­i­ties and or­ga­ni­za­tions to pro­vide photo shoots around the state.

Har­ri­son hopes to ex­pand to sur­round­ing states and is work­ing on part­ner­ing with an­other char­ity or­ga­ni­za­tion to ac­com­pany them and take fam­ily pho­tos in the Philip­pines next year.

To get in­volved, visit YourLightIn­ter­na­tional.org.

Har­ri­son be­lieves ev­ery­one has the chance to make a dif­fer­ence. "It's pow­er­ful if we look at the tal­ents we do have. Even if we think there’s no way to give back with that there is."

Photo: Your Light In­ter­na­tional

A Your Light In­ter­na­tional Vol­un­teer takes a fam­ily por­trait.

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