the interconnectedness of it all

i got an email from max's dad today, sharing how interconnected things can sometimes be. both max and kirsten battled cancer in san diego. i photographed both max and kirsten multiple times throughout their battle.  max's doctor now works with Tgen (via the van andel research institute). and both families are incredible supporters of the cancer research taking place at Tgen.

it's such an honor for these families to be able to use these photos that i took of max and kirsten on websites, magazines, news publications, etc., in an effort to raise awareness and encourage others to give, with the hope that one day -- someday -- a cure WILL be found!

now, i can't wait to connect these two amazing families with one other.

max's dad also shared this video with me -- pat lacey talks about his son, will, a seven-year-old boy, who has been battling neuroblastoma since he was six months old.

i'm hoping that one of these days, i will be able to get to boston to photograph will and his family. we've been talking about it for years!

don't ever forget the power in giving!!

kirsten's legacy

kirsten sandstrom endured a 21-month battle with adrenocortical carcinoma [acc], a rare and aggressive cancer of the adrenal glands. kirsten was only 37 when she passed away on march 25th, 2010, leaving behind a husband and three young boys. kirsten was such a kind, caring, incredible woman, whose beauty radiated through and through -- no matter how much pain she was in. a few months ago, i was contacted by translational genomics research institute [tgen] about possibly using some photos of kirsten, in an upcoming issue of tgen today. i had already known that her family approved because they were the ones that referred tgen to me. and there was no question on my part. i immediately went through all of kirsten's images and shared every photo that i thought might possibly work for the article.  i knew tgen was happy with the photographs but i didn't know which image[s] they had selected for kirsten's article.

a few days ago, i received tgen today in the mail.

the article -- the power of one: pasquinelli-sandstrom family establishes kirsten's legacy to focus on ACC resarch -- is so beautifully written. they included bailey's (one of kirsten's three sons) school essay:

I asked in a cautious voice, 'What's wrong, Dad?' He told us to sit down with him and said, 'Mom is really sick, and the doctors say she has cancer.' My heart skipped a beat. I was still wondering if he said this right. Could that even be possible? When I looked around the room, everything was fuzzy and I could not see anything. It was then that I hear my innocent little brother, Jake, ask, 'What's cancer?' At that moment, I knew he would feel unimaginable pain far worse than Holden, [Bailey's twin] and I were currently feeling. I knew that we all wanted to hug our mom and never let go.

and the closing paragraph quotes kirsten's dad...

What we hope to do at TGen through Kirsten's Legacy is this: She doesn't have to be physically alive for her faith and courage to be contagious, to give others hope. By funding this research, her faith and courage lie on through the successes I know TGen will achieve. And in turn, those successes will give others with ACC a chance.

the entire article can be read here.

without a doubt, kirsten's faith and courage are contagious!!  i truly am so blessed to have met kirsten. and her entire family.

you can see more photos of kirsten and her family here on my is there a perfect time? post.

fav finds friday | week four

supporting our wounded warriors. "you don't have to support the war to support the soldiers."

i needed to read this the other day. bad.

an important reminder.

this recipe turned out amazing. the kids loved it too.

love this so much.

yes, please. all of them.

i'm excited to read this book, along with two other art history books i just purchased.  and i'm hoping to start an art history class at a local community college in january.

i would like this hanging in my office.

rethinking some wall space. love these large, stacked prints.

i'm in the process of making this.

being reminded my friend to trust and become exactly who i'm meant to be.

max's angels

the first time i photographed max and his siblings (april 2008), i saw this angel in the clouds, immediately after our session together.

yesterday, max's dad emailed me about how their family saw this angel in the clouds, while on a vacation in mammoth a couple weeks ago.  andy wrote about it all here.

chills.  serious chills.


i also wanted to share this post written yesterday by my friend, amy boring -- if i could turn back time.

i hope you'll take a few minutes to not only read a bit about max and all that his parents are currently doing to raise money for neuroblastoma research, but also amy's blog post.  i will be time well spent.

never lose hope

a couple days ago, i wrote an article about giving back on the creative mama blog. today, i listened to her voice (see max mikulak post, third down) on the new york times. and i hope you'll take 2 minute and 38 seconds and listen too.

it's hard for me to believe that max passed away almost three years ago. i miss him.

please take some time to explore max's site.  and if you'd like to donate (every penny helps), you can do so here, on max's ring of fire.

in a week, i fly to wisconsin, to photograph a friend's family.  her husband is beginning his battle with lymphoma. he's in his thirties and they have four young children.  i can't wait to capture their magic and all that they are, as a family!!

please... give back and never lose hope.

my print | life support japan

i think this might be the last launching of photographs on wall space gallery's life support japan and i feel so honored to have my photograph including in life support japan 5. you can purchase my print (shown below) here.  8x8 print. edition of 10. all prints on the site are available for $50 each.  pretty amazing opportunity to get some awesome art.  i've already purchased two prints myself.  would have purchased a few others, if they hadn't sold out so quickly.

direct relief international (for medical) and habitat for humanity (for rebuilding) are the organizations that will benefit from the life support japanprint sales. the goal is 100% donation (as long as they can get donation of shipping supplies and  financial help towards shipping costs).

life support japan

such an amazing endeavor is taking place right now... crista dix, from wall space gallery, recently launched life support japan -- where photographers from around the world have donated prints (no larger than 8.5 x 11, edition of 10) for (set-price) auction.

these prints can be purchased online at wall space gallery for $50 each!!

direct relief international (for medical) and habitat for humanity (for rebuilding) are the organizations that will benefit from the life support japan print sales. the goal is 100% donation (as long as they can get donation of shipping supplies and  financial help towards shipping costs).  so far, the auction has raised $10, two days!!

it's incredible the number of photographers, who have stepped forward and donated. new photographs are being added daily, so if you don't see an image you love and want to purchase, please keep checking back.

seriously...such an awesome opportunity to purchase a some art, while also helping the relief efforts in japan. and a special thanks to aline smithson for all her hard work and coordination efforts.

i've offered this 8x8 print for auction...

copyright deb schwedhelm photography | one

ETA: i just read this article.  and the pictures. heart aches for the people of japan.

and a recent note from crista dix:

Life Support Japan + online print sale benefit information. Natural disasters happen all the time, like landslides, floods, earthquakes. We live on a planet that isn't static. Friday, March 11th, we witnessed a natural disaster with a very human toll. The earthquake in Japan was of such magnitude that even the most prepared nation in the world to handle a disaster of this type was overwhelmed. It wasn't the earthquake alone, which was devastating enough but watching a 30 foot high wall of mud and debris wipe entire communities away was beyond any ability I personally had to comprehend.

I had to do something. Aline Smithson, one of our gallery artists wanted to do something too. Ryan Nabulsi and Jennifer Schwartz joined the effort. Soon I was hearing from every part of our creative community that we wanted to reach out to help the people of Japan. Life Support Japan was created to bring assistance to those in Japan who need it.

We have selected two charities to benefit from the sales of these limited edition prints.

Direct Relief International, for help with medical supplies. Direct Relief works closely with the United Nations (U.N.) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), which has activated to assemble the international response. Direct Relief has mobilized and staged materials at our headquarters, which are standing by ready for airlift to Japan.

Habitat for Humanity Japan, to help in the rebuilding of communities in and around Sendai and northern Japan.

Artists from around the globe have donated limited editions, over 300 to date, and we will be consistently updating the images available.

Galleries from around the US are banding together for a series of benefits, for these two and other charities to benefit relief efforts in Japan. We will be posting information as it becomes available.

Thank you for your support and for being part of a global community.

Crista Dix + wall space gallery.

ways to donate | japan

it just seemed wrong that i had a mother's day post at the forefront of my blog, after i heard the news of this japan's devastating tsunami. so instead, i wanted to post a few simple ways that one can donate and help japan. you can... go to red cross or simply text “red cross” to 90999. if you text, $10 will be automatically be charged to your phone bill.

go to global giving to donate $25, $50 or $75.

donate on americares.

donate to doctors without borders.  they already have a team trying to reach the battered areas of japan.

purchase a 9x11 fine art print (or two) from wall space gallery.  photographers are donating prints to be sold for $50 each and have already raised over $10,000 for direct relief international.  what an incredible opportunity to purchase a fine art photograph, while also helping japan.

my heart and thoughts go out to all those affected by the tsunami. i just can't imagine.

fight for air climb

i'm super excited to participate in this year's fight for air climb!! i'm raising funds for the american lung association and the fight against lung disease.  on march 26th, i'll be climbing the 42 flights of stairs (914 steps) of the bank of america plaza in downtown tampa.

my goal is to raise $500.

i hope you'll join me in my make an impact in the lives of the over 35 million americans who are living with lung disease. your donation will help in the funding of the american lung association's life saving research, education and advocacy efforts.

to donate, simply click here, to view my fundraising page.

thank you for supporting the american lung association and the climb of my life...

missing max

i hadn't photographed the mikulak family since april 2009 (eight months after max passed away).  so when i was in san diego a few weeks ago, we made sure to get together for a family photo session.  it was so awesome to see and photograph them again!!  of course, it's always a bit difficult at the same time because max is not physically with us; however, i fully believe his spirit always is. prior to the session (prior to every session), i shared with andy and melissa, to please bring whatever they want to the session and i will do my best to incorporate it all.  i always know they will bring max's stuffed shark, they have shared that max's bruce will forever be part of their family photos.

here's a few of my favorites from our incredible afternoon together at torrey pines park...

hannah and nicky, when they went off and started playing with a couple of max's star wars clone trooper guys...

and this shot of nicky so reminds me of one of the first shots i did of max, when we started our mashed potatoes for breakfast journey together.

reminds me of this shot (max's little smirk, he often gave me)...

and i have always said that hannah has soul.  there's something so deeply special about her.  you can see it in her eyes.

this photo is from april 2008, when i photographed max, hannah and nicky together...

and a shot of hannah from a few weeks ago.  same soul, but with some added tween spirit.

each and every time i have the opportunity, it is truly an honor to photograph the mikulak family.  i cherish their friendship and they have touched me...touched my soul, beyond words.  love you guys!!  thank you for being such a special part of my life.

beyond the assignment | forever seven

max mikulak...

forever seven.

this morning, i received an email from jason houston that max's series, forever seven, has been published in issue 3 of fraction J magazine. and i couldn't have dreamed of a more perfect theme to have max's photographs be a part of -- beyond the assignment.

For this issue of Fraction J we were looking for projects with several specific traits. The work, first had to be journalistic, at least in the sense that it was a reaction made in real time to real events and a subject's story truthfully told. But the more important distinction was that the photographer stuck with the work, not from any attempt to create something sellable for some specific market, but because it meant something to them—and where. The photography also has to be a functional element of the concerned involvement, but not the reason for it. In the end it was very difficult to draw these lines and find that balance, especially when it came to the personal documentary projects, many of which were reflecting on external situations. But in the end, the portfolios we ended up with span an appropriately broad and inspiring range of responses.

i hope you'll take a look.

thank you fraction J for this incredible opportunity to share. i am so, so grateful!!

off and running

i'm excited to be headed to california this morning, for the next 11 days. a wee bit anxious too as i haven't left my kids quite this long, although i do know that my husband is 110% capable of doing just as good of job as i with the kids. and steve's brother will be here to take care of the kids, while steve is at work. this morning, sky said,

am i just going to wear my hair down for the next two weeks. boys don't know how to do hair. unless they work in a shop....are trained in a special shop. and what about buddy's hair? i guess his hair will just look crazy every day.

i put sky's hair in a ponytail or pigtails every day for school. and wet and brush ryder's, as his becomes quite a fluffy mess during the night. so, i leave -- knowing all will run smoothly -- except maybe my kids' hair. and if that's all i have to worry about while gone, that's pretty darn awesome.

i guess i'll include instructions regarding the little ones' hair, in the weekly schedule / note that i'm leaving for uncle joe.  something i didn't think about, but is obviously a bit of a concern for sky.  :-)

i will be two days with my mom, in sacramento, helping her pack up her house for a mid-february move. three days in san diego, where i get the opportunity to shoot an elementary school class, a great friend's family and max's family. this will be the second time shooting max's family since he passed away, august 2008. and then i'm off to twentynine palms for our workshop. so, so excited to meet another incredible group of photographers.

from my last session with the mikulak family, in 2009.  nicky and hannah, with max's favorite stuffed shark, bruce.  nicky was belting out ring of fire, which max so loved to sing.

sure will miss these three, while i'm gone (taken a couple weekends ago, during gasparilla celebration)...

steve too, who continues to support and encourage my photography dreams. love you babe!!

the power of giving

while i was on vacation, in nevada, i got an email from margot.  she was emailing to make sure it was okay that they used one of my photos of sam in their 2010 family photos, which she wanted to post on  her blog. the first thought that came to mind, along with the tears, was, are you KIDDING me? you NEVER have to ask me about using the photos i took of sam. but instead, i replied,

absolutely. and please don't ever feel you need to ask me about using sam's photos at anytime, for anything. please just use them.

for those who didn't follow my journey with sam and his family, let me share a bit. sam went to the same elementary school in san diego, as kiele. i had learned of sam from kiele's deaf itinerant teacher, diane (sam was hearing impaired due to chemo). i asked diane to share with sam's parents that i was available to them any time at all, to photograph sam and their family. time went on. life was busy. and i hadn't heard from sam's parents.

then one day in late 2006, while photographing kiele's classmates, i ran to sam's class and asked the teacher if i could pull sam out of class for a few photos. i knew sam's teacher because kiele had had her for 2nd grade. so i pulled sam out of class and took a few photos. once the prints arrived, i boxed them up, brought them to sam's teacher and asked that she give them to the parents and tell them that they are a gift from me.

one of those photos, from the very first time i photographed sam, is the framed photo below.

© meredith brunette

i share this for a couple of reasons: first, the power of giving back is beyond words. if you haven't given back in some way (and i'm not talking monetarily; we all have our gifts, talents, information, etc.), i beg you to. give when and however you can. it can be as simple as giving a helping hand to someone in need. second, don't be discouraged whenever attempting to give and it's not working out exactly as planned. if i've made an honest, whole-hearted attempt and it doesn't work out, that's all i can do (except with sam, i was able to find a workaround). the reason i say this is because i have received quite a few emails sharing that they are trying to give their photography services but the person / parent isn't responding and they're wondering how to proceed.

it amazing how when  you give and expect absolutely nothing in return, they fill your heart so greatly. these families that i have photographed over the years have touched my heart and soul and given me so much...more than words could ever describe.

after those initial photos of sam at school, i continued to photograph sam and his family for the next three years...until sam, after so much strength and fighting, sadly lost his battle to neuroblastoma on march 12th, 2010.

in memory of sam, here are some of my favorite photos from the years i photographed him. miss you buddy!

if you haven't already, i hope this will help inspire you to incorporate giving into your 2011.

the joy of giving

i am just a human being.for me, everyone is the same... what is the ultimate purpose of life? it's to give. start giving. feel the joy of giving. - narayanan krishnan

i saw this on someone's blog (can't remember where) earlier in the week and didn't have time to watch.  today, i saw it again on my friend, crystalyn's, FB stream.  and watched.  let me just say that i was moved to tears.

a former professional chef in a five-star restaurant in india. now feeding the homeless, mentally ill destitute and old people, who have been left, uncared for. but not only caring for their nutritional needs, he goes further...

this man is so much more than a kind and decent man. he is an absolutely amazing and inspiring man.  he could have stopped at nutritionally feeding these people in need, but he didn't.  i would love to give so incredibly, so selflessly -- one day.

for the moment, it really has me thinking about how i can give more. give greater. right here. right now. i know i can be doing more.

helping kids with cancer

do you have your christmas cards yet?  need a few more? or want to buy some to use next year?  all while also supporting an amazing charity!! well...

here's some holiday cards featuring artwork of children with cancer.  you can purchase the cards on the CURE to the KIDS website -- and 50% of the purchase price goes to NMTRC, a childhood cancer research and clinic trials foundation.

card pricing (includes envelopes):

25-499, $0.90 500-999, $ 0.80 1000+, $ 0.70 minimum order: 25 cards

this is max's card. max's dad shared that max drew this snowman in december 2007, right before his cancer began exploding throughout his little body.

please consider supporting CURE to the KIDS and order a set of christmas cards today.  or if you'd rather just donate the money, you can do so here, at max's ring of fire foundation.

max -- the first time i met and photographed him, which just happened to be december 2007.

you can see more photographs of max on the blog that max's dad set up for me, when we first started our journey together -- mashed potatoes for breakfast.

the perfect time | part II

i returned a few days ago from an amazing weekend at the sundance resort, with new friends -- wallflower friends.  as part of the retreat, leah and i photographed jon canlas' family.  he's a photographer with a beautiful wife and five incredible children and...they have never had a family photo done. really?  not one family photo?  but you're a photographer; you should know better.  really?

here's the first couple photographs i've edited. hoping he and his wife love the photos as much as i do.  (jon's little guy had open heart surgery not long ago...he's doing awesome.)

and yesterday, i received an email from team charisse.  who is charisse?  charisse is an amazing photographer in connecticut.  she is a beautiful, kind, loving young woman. a wife.  a mother to three young boys.  and she is battling cancer (lymphoma) for the third time!! and because of the cancer and aggressive chemotherapy, charisse recently had to close her photography business for the remainder of the year (income that they depended on and during the busiest time of year), which in turn, is causing a significant financial hardship on their family.

image courtesy of julia arstop photography

can you imagine the pain, stress and agony of battling cancer once?  how about three times?  can you imagine watching your spouse battle cancer three times? can you imagine watching your children deal with their mommy battling cancer...again? it's just wrong! and i am going to do my best to help this amazing family. i hope that you will too.

please, if you have it in your heart to give, please consider giving to team charisse. $5, $20, $100...every little bit will help charisse and her family!!

the money raised will go towards caring for charisse and her family during these difficult times (living expenses, school expenses, medical expenses, etc.)

checks can be mailed to: Team Charisse 71 Sedgwick Avenue Darien, CT 06820

or you can contribute to team charisse via paypal here

no matter how hard i try, i can't get the donate button any smaller...but i guess you definitely get the idea this way. lol. (hoping to get new paypal button shortly. im not sure what happened to this one.)

lastly, i want to scream it to the world...

please don't wait to have photos taken.  honestly, please don't wait to document your family in whatever way you choose.  your kids will not care if you have the perfect haircut or if you are thin enough or whatever your hang-up might be.  your kids will simply love and appreciate YOU...just the way you are!

there really is no perfect time!

and in case you need any more convincing, read this.

be a dreamer

my heart is so happy...and full!

thursday afternoon, i got a voicemail from michelle, the no limits [deaf / hard-of-hearing theatre group] dreamer | owner | director. ABC was auditioning for a blonde-haired, blue-eyed oral-deaf teen, for their upcoming series pilot -- switched at birth. and michelle thought kiele would be perfect for the part.  the only problem...the audition was the following morning in los angeles.  after she chatted with the director, we decided to head to LA so kiele could audition in person. it was a chance of a lifetime and in my could we NOT go. i purchased last minute tickets, threw what i could into a suitcase, and 30-minutes later, kiele and i were headed to LA.

kiele ended up not getting the part of daphne because they thought she was too young (the role is a 15-year-old, but apparently they're hoping to find someone 18-20s; kiele is 13). i can honestly say that kiele and i had the most amazing 24 hours, while there.  i'm so grateful for the opportunity. and i'm beyond proud of kiele.  not every child would do what kiele just did.

simply getting to audition for the part was an awesome experience. but beyond that, we got to hang out with some of the most incredible, inspirational people i have ever met -- one of them being michelle.

every time i see michelle, i'm beyond inspired!  she had a dream and she made her dream a reality. and every time i talk to her, i think i should go pursue being a deaf | hard-of-hearing (DHH) educational advocate.  when i'm with her, i feel that i really could make a difference, not only for the local DHH children, but across the nation!!

michelle, with her son, jack. captured yesterday.

kiele also got to hang out a bit with john autry.  at age seven, john was one of the first children to attend 'no limits' (he's now 21) and he had just returned from being a presenter at the 2010 media access awards (GLEE won the CSA award for diverse casting of actors with disabilities).  from what michelle shared, john was a superstar at the award ceremony!!

kiele had acted with john a few years ago in san diego, at a 'no limits' theatre play BUT we so hadn't put two and two together to realize that...

THIS IS JOHN -- the actor who played this most amazing, inspirational role on GLEE. OH MY GOSH!!

john talked to kiele about how important education is and how these acting parts are a bonus; he will never stop going to school and learning. oh my gosh!! seriously <lump in my throat> inspirational.  john is one of those people who smiles and the entire room lights up.  he just has one of those spirits and i have no doubt that his acting career will continue to grow!!

we also got to meet one of the most amazing women i have ever met -- enid wizig.  being in the presence of enid (87) and her husband, bernard (92), made me so happy.  they are so full of life. amazing. and so in love.  i could kick myself for not getting my camera out of the car and taking a photo of them.

enid contracted whooping cough at six months old, which resulted in her being profoundly deaf. back then, they didn't have hearing aids and her parents would use an ear trumpet to talk to her. later in school, she wore a large hearing-aid device, with the battery attached to her thigh. as a very young child, she had little to no language.  her mother insisted that she speak and hired a speech therapist, who charged $100 / hour (a very controversial choice, especially back then).  this woman believed in enid and ended up working with her twice every day for five years...for free.  and she taught enid how to speak.  enid mostly reads lips and has an unbelievable speaking voice.  to this day, enid proudly displays her speech therapist's 8x10 photograph, front and center in her living room.

enid was also the first woman to work for merrie melodies. she sat down and drew kiele this bugs bunny in about two minutes!  i asked her if she had any of her drawings in her house and she shared with me that she gave some to her children and sold the others for $10,000 each.

and i can't thank michelle's dad, nugent, enough. i know that he is michelle's mentor and from talking to him, i can 100% say that he is a dreamer. yet, he shared with me how michelle is the one who inspires him. their support and encouragement for one another is so heartening. nugent picked kiele and i up from the airport at 12:30 AM. he took us to the audition the next morning. and then took us back to the airport at 10:30 PM that night. he was willing to help in any way he could...and so encouraging and kind. thank you nugent; we couldn't have done it without you!!

lastly, happy 70th birthday john lennon. your wisdom and inspiration continue today!


the in between

between two school (class) auction photo books, workshop prep and deads and dress photos, my spare time has been slim to none. oh yea, that doesn't include plumbing problems, etc. anyways...i thought i'd share a bit of what my time has been consumed with lately -- first, check out this second grader's writing and drawing about what he wants to be when he grows up. OMG!! be-still my heart.

and here's my kids' book spreads this year.

Sky wrote:

i whant to be a veternarien beacuse I love animuls.  And I whant to be a photogerpher beacuse I like taking pictures.  And beacuse I like meating other people.  And seeing things I never saw before.  I also want to be a vetunarein beacuse I want to help animuls when they are hurt.  I want to be a dacer and singer beacuse I always love bacing and singing every singgul day.

Skyler, 7 years old

Ryder said:

When I grow up, I want to be a policeman and a artist because I always like to do art and I don't know about the other.

Ryder - 5

lastly, check out these incredible women -- a few of the shots i photographed of the crossfit jaguar women, for the deads and dresses contest. i'm hoping that a photographer friend of mine will do my pictures once i'm back from the utah. but of course, i have to get the perfect pair of socks first. :-)

and my most awesome trainer, who has inspired me so!!

auction projects

i get asked a lot of questions regarding the school auction projects i've done over the years, so i thought it would be good to just share here... every year, i offer my photography services for my kids' school auction projects. some years it's been framed portraits of each child. other years a book. and sometimes both.

and through the years, i've learned a ton!!  typically, it goes something like this...

i take a few photos of each student in the class. i do this somewhere on the school grounds. somewhere with great light. and a good background.  i try to get the child as comfortable (and natural) as possible. for me, this is an extremely important step.  i usually only have a minute or two with each child, so i have to work fast.

while i'm taking photos, the students are doing something nearby (reading books, being read a story, etc.).  i take the children one by one and do my best so it's just me and the child, with no others watching.

i also take a few photos of the group of students together. sitting. standing. whatever works with the location.

last year, i also took some photos of the children within the classroom but it doesn't always happen that way.  but, last year wasn't an auction book; it was an end of year gift from me.

after the photos, i work with the teacher in getting the children to write about a topic or a question and draw a picture. this varies from year to year, depending on the school, the teacher, the child's age, etc. for me, it has greatly varied because the past three years have been three completely different schools (in three different states). one year, at a lutheran preschool, the children drew a picture of what they thought Heaven looked like and then the teachers asked them the question, "what does Heaven look like and what do they think is in Heaven?" this year, the question is, "what do you want to be when you grow up and why?" with the younger kids, it's necessary to transcribe what they say. if this is the case, i stress the importance of capturing every single word because it adds as much of the child's personality as possible to the project.

i then design the book, however i see fit for the photographs, drawing, writing, etc. i do this through blurb because it would be too expensive to use the book company i use for my photography business.

the auction itself can be run in many different ways.  i'm sure there are other ideas out there but these are how the auctions, which i have been involved with in the past years, have run: - you can print one or two books and auction off the books. this year, i am adding an 11x14 print to the auction so the highest bidder will get the book and a print. - you can have the books available via a blurb store. with the store, you can set the price so the book price can be set for xx dollars over the printing cost and then all the profit can be donated to the school. - you can auction off one book. and then you could ask the parent winner if they would be okay with selling the book to other parents for the same auction price. again, all the money (after paying printing cost) is donated to the school. - i even worked with a school, where the teacher loved the book so much, she just wanted every parent possible to have it and so we sold the book at cost.

one of the tricky parts is getting reimbursed by the school.  this year, the room parent is getting pre-auction donations from the parents, which will cover the cost of printing.  this is a huge treat because in the previous years, i've donated my time and the printing of the book | prints.  just something to think about.

with the framed portraits, a parent or parents donated the frames. the framed prints were then auctioned for a set price (in my case, $50 each). so the parents didn't really bid on one item; they bid the set price for their child's framed portrait.  if there are 20 children in the class, this style of auction makes the school $1000.

all my time and prints (when offered) are donated. i absolutely love doing the books and being able to give back to the school.  and the parents and teachers have always loved the books too.  i have my (coffee table) books proudly displayed on my entryway credenza.  and i cherish them so.

i hope this helps. if there's any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section and i will edit the post and answer.

ETA: What was your price point (or profit) per book? the price point (profit) all depends on how high the auction goes, for the standard style auction. i've never sold my books (via a blurb store) to the parents for profit. i think it's best to talk to the teacher, room parent and possibly other parents, to see how many might be interested in purchasing the book. then you can decide how much profit you'd like to make off of each book.

our auction happens very early in the year - is this the case for you? this year, the auction is october 23rd (way early, in my opinion). and with my teaching a workshop oct 1-3 and shooting in san diego oct 13-18, i'm trying really hard to have the book completed by sep 29th.

also, do you advertise your business at all in the books themselves? logo or link to site? i have a page where i have a photograph and then under the photograph, i have -- all photographs taken by deb schwedhelm photography

for the framed prints of each child...our auction provides a tiny table space for your donated item. did you display all 20 or so prints for bidding? also, what happened to the ones that were not bid on? : / (or were they all bid on?) yes, all the framed 5x7 prints were displayed. and all have been purchased in the previous years, except maybe one and it wasn't at my children's school. i'm not sure what they did with the portrait that didn't sell.

Do you have suggestions for tips on the artwork of students you are going to scan, in terms of size and what they use to draw? i just have them draw on white copy paper and i prefer the kids draw with markers but colored pencils and crayons work too. it's just that the marker shows better, when the papers are scanned. a few other tips -- i like to have the kids sign their artwork or their writing and include their age. also, have them stay away from writing / drawing close to the edge of the paper. don't let them draw on the other side of the paper, as it will show through when scanned.

here's a few screen captures of auction book page spreads (of my kids) that i've done in the past years.


today, i photographed ryder's kindergarten class, for a book i'm designing for their school auction (oct 23rd) class project.  next week is skyler's class.  i feel so blessed to be able to give back and contribute in this way. while i'd love to share more photos from this morning (i can't because of lack of model release), i share just a couple i captured of ryder.  man, is he tough these days.  i just happened to look over, when i was done photographing another child and i saw this, which melts my heart.  it lasted only a second and i feel so lucky to have captured it.

and then, this photo simply captures him and a bit of who he is at 5-years-old and in kindergarten.  he's a bit of a serious child.  yet as sweet and kind as can be.  and he dresses himself every morning and insists on wearing long socks.  they're always pulled up as far as he possibly can and many times, up to his knees.  he is who he is and i fully embrace every bit of it.

i so love what i do and am so darn grateful, i could scream.  as i've said before, i feel we are blessed with this gift to photograph...and i'm a firm believer in giving back whenever possible with this awesome gift we've been blessed with.  donating my time to school auctions is one of the ways i so love to give back.

how about you...what ways do you give back with the gift you've been blessed with?