Love West Asheville
Last weekend I had the opportunity to work with a community organization called Provision Asheville. Provision, whose mission is to "create community through service," held their first community event, this one called Love West Asheville. The idea behind the four-hour-long event was to provide various services to community members that they would otherwise have to pay money for, money they may not be able to spend on such services, which included medical screenings, dentistry, massages, and family photography (as well as bounce house and painting activities for kids.)
As you can image, the only talent I could provide in these areas was photography. In the past couple years, and especially now after graduation, I have been trying to volunteer more in the community, not only to help others, but to get to know those around me. As my other volunteer activities primarily include leading photography clubs for middle and high school students, this was the perfect opportunity to be able to actually take photos for others.
The shoot was different than any I had ever done. Usually, I have an hour or two to spend with my subjects, getting to know them beforehand and as the shoot goes along so that I can truly capture their character. At Love West Asheville, I had about a minute to pose people (no small feat with hyper children!), and the same amount of time to snap their portraits (as in, to make sure everyone was actually looking at the camera with their eyes open), doing the best I could to catch each individual's essence in that small window of time. The only way to really do that is to try to make people laugh, so boy did I ever act goofy. It didn't work for everyone. As a last resort, I pulled out a bubble wand for the most reticent of kids.
After each sitting, I handed my card to another volunteer who printed and framed the best image to give to each family, couple, or individual. For me, it was a rewarding experience because I got to see the excitement on each person's face as they received their photograph; many of these people said they did not have many or any photos of themselves or their families. All in all, while I had to get up at 7 in the morning on a Saturday, it was time very well spent.