{Photographers Giving Back} Another Door Opens

December 3, 2012

in Holiday Photography Tips, Photographers Giving Back, Photography Inspiration

{Photographers Giving Back} featuring Another Door Opens via iHeartFaces.com


Today we begin a series of posts about photographers who have chosen to use their talents to give back to those in need. We hope you will join us each Monday throughout December and be inspired by their stories and their charities. Our featured photography charity this week is Another Door Opens, started by one of our favorite people, Hilary Camilleri of One for the Wall Photography.

When I began my photography business late in 2008, I was deeply moved and inspired by the Smiling Eyes Project that was created by a fellow photographer in my area. Christine Kufske, and her Smiling Eyes team, have been photographing children and adults who are terminally ill or in remission for six years. What an incredible gift Christine gives to people.

When I started my own photography business I knew that I wanted to give the gift of photos some how – some way to people. Until now, I just hadn’t found that “thing” I wanted to do. I thought about it often. Had many ideas. And four years later…I have found the way my heart wants to give back.

Photographers Giving Back Featuring Another Door Opens via iHeartFaces.com

Another Door Opens came to be with the inspiration of two incredible women that have touched my soul deeply through tragedy in their lives. They have shown me the power of hope and in turn I was able to find the way in which I wanted to give back with my photography.

Marny and Beth both lost their husbands when their children were very young. A situation neither of them ever imagined themselves in. Marny and Beth have taken those experiences and have committed their time, energy and hearts to other young widows by opening the Hummingbird Centre for Hope. An organization that provides continuing bereavement support to men and women after the death of their spouse or partner.

Beth booked me for a photo session with her two children last fall. It was the first session that she had done since her husband died. I remember feeling sadness that day. Knowing there should have been someone else in those photos. I could feel him there. I could feel Beth behind me watching her children be photographed. I could only imagine what was going through her mind. I distinctly remember feeling great hope too. They were building new memories. We had a lot of laughs and we left feeling happy. I left that shoot feeling inspired.

It was a few weeks later that I ran into Marny at Starbucks. It was through a conversation with her that I had one of those (Oprah) AHA! moments. That’s it. I was going to donate my time to photographing families who had lost immediate family members. My work was going to be a stepping stone to rebuilding and creating new memories for families. That is where my energy was best suited and where I knew I could best serve those who were healing their broken hearts.

And with that Another Door Opens came to be. I want to thank Christine, Marny and Beth for being my inspiration. For guiding my soul towards the path in which I was to give back with my photography and my life.

Photographers Giving Back Featuring Another Door Opens via iHeartFaces.com

I launched Another Door Opens this fall with the help an incredible team. I reached out for some help with the website, website content, the Facebook page and for assisting with the inquiries. I also set up Another Door Opens to accept other photographers at some point down the road if and when the demand for this type of service increases. I would love to see it roll out on a larger scale as a session like this requires a different approach, deep compassion for these families and a respect for the pain they have experienced.

The Hummingbird Centre for Hope has been an incredible support to me. They are reaching out to families through their services to let them know I am there. I am also hoping that through word of mouth the message and gift will reach more people in my community and beyond.

My hope is that families will take this gift as a sign of hope and healing. My hope is that I can make the experience of having a family photo taken after someone has passed away – a little bit easier. My hope is that families will see that out of these fragile, courageous photographic memories that new beginnings can take shape. In sharing the following words you can see how these photos have helped the families of Another Door Opens:
“We wanted to thank you for giving us such a special gift. I knew it was going to be difficult the first time we had family pictures with Reilly missing, but you made it as easy as it could be. It was really difficult for me emotionally, but your energy and easy acceptance of our situation made it more relaxing and comfortable then I was expecting. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to get through it without tears but your positive, happy energy helped a lot. Another Door Opens is an incredible gift to people who have experienced such loss and sadness”

Photographers Giving Back Featuring Another Door Opens via iHeartFaces.com
“My own family has been deeply touched by the magic of your photographs – I look at them everyday and feel blessed to have had your eye behind the lense. You were able to capture true smiles and the essence of happiness from my children. But what was most meaningful to me was your ability to capture the likeness of their dad. Even though Scott is not with us, your photographs are proof of the fact that, in some way, he still is … through my children. Another Door Opens is a true gift to families as they rebuild their lives, and their definition of “family”. Hilary, you have the biggest heart and I am honored to know you.”

I know that Another Door Opens has sincerely made me whole as a photographer. I always knew I would give back from the day I started One for the Wall and it feels so good to know that I now have an organization that matches my energy and that is affecting people’s lives in a positive way. I take great pride in helping people to build new memories that have experienced such incredible loss in their lives. I know how important it is to respect the people we have all lost. I also know how important it is to re-build and how difficult that can be. I just hope that I can make this a little easier for people and put a smile on their face.

Here’s to remembering. Here’s to new memories.

Hilary Camilleri of Another Door Opens

A portrait and commercial photographer, Hilary lives in Waterloo, Ontario with her husband of ten years, her two beautiful girls and her adorable lasapoodle.  You can learn more about Another Door Opens by visiting her website and/or her Facebook page.

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Urska Golob September 25, 2014

Firstly, I love this post. I think it’s important that photographers give something back to the community. It enriches not just the photos but also photographer himself. I am a mother of two. The older one, sun Julian, is a child with special needs. He doesn’t speak, walk, he cannot lift his head or tell me if he doesn’t feel well. Still he is my biggest teacher. With his birth our family became more aware of little things that really matter (and not just big things we think they matter but they really don’t). Having a child with special needs who needs me 24/7 has thought me to seek deeply for things I truly love to have and do in my life. Through that I have found photography. I believe that I hadn’t been blessed with a special child I wouldn’t even know that I have a desire or even a gift for photography. Though it still feels like I am a beginner I know that photography is my lifetime mission. I am thankful that my son has thought me to look deeper to find beauty. My tribute to him is a project Special Beauty (http://pravposebno.com/tag/special-beauty/) – I’ve begun to take photos of children with special needs. I want to show to the world how beautiful they really are and that their diagnosis doesn’t define them. They are beautiful because they are special. And they are special because they are beautiful.

Photographers giving back it also means getting back so much more.

Urška Golob (from Slovenia)

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Declan Mc Glone December 4, 2012

{Photographers Giving Back} Another Door Opens #photography http://t.co/lCwpbSwu

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Angie December 3, 2012

Beautiful new series on IHF! —>RT @iheartfaces: {Photographers Giving Back} Another Door Opens http://t.co/CUBLegHk

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Mique Provost December 3, 2012

Love this idea for a series from @iheartfaces- {Photographers Giving Back} Another Door Opens http://t.co/6sMZh5gO

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nest of posies December 3, 2012

such a beautiful series to introduce to blogland. i know many photographers do this as a gift, but are rarely recongnize for their passion. so touching in every way!

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Sarah Young December 3, 2012

Hilary, I admire you for what you offer to children and adults that are terminally ill.

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angie {the arthur clan} December 3, 2012

You have the most beautiful heart Hilary and it was such an honor to be able to feature you and Another Door Opens here on I Heart Faces. ♥

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Melissa VanLeeuwen December 3, 2012

Hilary is amazing and an inspiration to all of us photographers that want to give back. What a great gift for families struggling to move on.

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Amy Locurto December 3, 2012

What you are doing is wonderful Hilary! I hope a ton of people read this and are inspired by your kind heart. This has to be hard, but also so rewarding. Wishing you the very best!

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lisa pierce December 3, 2012

I think this is a great idea and such a service to grieving people. I was recently asked to photograph a family in a situation similar to this. They tragically lost their baby a few months ago and have since adopted a little boy… they want their adopted child to be included in a family photo but they grieve the thought of their baby not being there. I am not a professional photographer… I love photography, but I basically just photograph my kids. But, I live in Indonesia and there aren’t family photographers in our city so they’ve asked me. I’m just wondering if you have any ideas specifically about “representing” their baby in the photograph. I love the photos in this post… have you done other sessions like that yet? I’ve been googling it for a few weeks and haven’t found anything like this. I’m so glad it was shared on iheartfaces. thanks!

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