Heart Gallery Recovery

So much for my plan to post at least once a week. I do have a pretty good excuse, though. I’ve been injured. I hurt my upper back, which pinched a nerve in my arm. Besides being extremely painful, I lost all dexterity in my right hand. Not a pleasant feeling for someone who pretty much makes a living based on the dexterity of his right hand (insert hand job/masturbation joke here). So, a few weeks later, I’m at about 80% and looking to get productive again.

Just before I was knocked out of commission I had some great inspirations for projects and directions and was really fired up (thanks universe). I have to get everything sorted out and prioritized before I can figure out what to get started on and what to put on the backburner. I will be making up for lost time with a bunch of blog posts over the next few weeks outlining what I’ve been thinking.

Today was my first photoshoot since I was laid out. It was portraits of children for Heart Gallery. They are having a national awareness event here in LA and today was the kick-off/press conference. I was asked to attend partly because LA is the host city and they wanted to have a home-town photographer there (the other photographer was from NYC) and partly because one of my former Heart Gallery portraits was selected as one of fifty from across the country to be displayed.

The LA coordinator, Stephanie Clancy speaking at the press event with my photo behind her.

Even better than that, I found out the young lady who was the subject of the portrait had just gotten adopted and the entire process started when the family saw her portrait online. This is something I volunteer for. I do not get paid and I cannot use the photos in any way; not on my blog and not in my portfolio. But knowing that I can make a difference for a child with my craft makes it beyond worth it. Besides, these kids have not had it easy but are still upbeat and a blast to photograph. I think I’m getting the better end of the deal.

For those who have never heard of Heart Gallery:

The Heart Gallery is a traveling photographic and audio exhibit created to find forever families for children in foster care.The Heart Gallery of America is a collaborative project of over 120 Heart Galleries across the United States (and growing) designed to increase the number of adoptive families for children needing homes in our community.

Now, in its ninth year, the Heart Gallery model is being replicated in many communities across the country. Although many of our children were removed from abusive and neglectful situations, they still have hope. They love to laugh, to learn, and to be with their friends. Most of all, they dream of finding a forever family to be their own.

I used a basic two-light set-up with a blue backdrop I had. There were around 20 children getting portraits made by me or the other photographer and sometimes both. I can’t show them but there were definitely some characters there. One of the standouts was Aristotle (his real name) who showed up dressed like a Texas oil tycoon, in a suit, complete with cowboy boots and hat. He walked right up to me, offered his hand and introduced himself. Then he stepped in front of the lights and stood like a tycoon. Awesome.

NBC had a crew there and they miked me just in time for four brothers ranging from four up to eleven. These guys had way too much energy. Getting them set up was like herding hyperactive cats. I decided to use that energy to get them to all jump in the air for an action shot since the chances of getting them to sit still was slim. It worked out great and I’m sure it made for good TV. I was also interviewed for another station. I’m glad I showered this morning. I had no idea I’d be on TV.

My two best friends. On the left, my workstation with my trusty heating pad and
on the right, my electrode thingy I call "the Shocker" for my back.

It was a pretty good day. So now I’m back at home, nursing my sore back by sitting on my bed, propped up on pillows with a heating pad on my back and my laptop, well… on my lap. This is how I’ve spent the last three weeks. But I’m on the mend and looking forward to getting into action on some of my new projects. Stay tuned.

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