An Unforgettable Portrait Session
Updated: Jan 22, 2022
It was Spring of 2020 and the pandemic was keeping everyone inside. Schools were closed, sporting events cancelled, and high school graduations uncertain. I had gone to my neighborhood Facebook page and offered free family "porch portraits" for families in my neighborhood just to try and keep moral up. A few families took part, but many, still too concerned about Covid, declined.
But in May 2020, I was contacted by Cheryl Burrow, a local parent who had seen my post and who inquired about a special photo session. Cheryl wanted specific portraits of her daughter Lyndsey, a senior at Heritage High School in Brentwood, Ca. Lyndsey was a softball player who excelled at the game and who was a star on the team. Lyndsey had just been accepted to play ball for Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas and they were selling their home and preparing to move. Cheryl told me that softball had been cancelled and the school needed all of the uniforms turned in. She really wanted photos of Lyndsey in uniform because this would be Lyndsey's last year of high school. As we talked further, Cheryl explained her specific vision of what she wanted from this session.
As a photographer, it is very important to clearly understand the vision people have. In the past, I have made the mistake of assuming and not asking, only to find out later, I missed the mark. It was something that would have been corrected with a simple adjustment had I just asked the right question. It was an important lesson for me.
Cheryl explained that her vision was to see Lyndsey, in uniform, looking off into the sunset with the softball diamond in the background. This would symbolize her final farewell to her ball field, her high school, and her time as a Heritage H.S. Patriot. The date was set and after researching sunset times on that date, the session was booked. My wife usually accompanies me and assists with my sessions. This day was no different. We met the family as scheduled and quickly hit it off.
Meeting this family was a very neat experience. Immediately, it was clear that they were genuinely good people and the very close relationship between Lyndsey and her parents was obvious. We started the session with photos of Lyndsey in various parts of the filed as we waited for the sun to set.
Although Cheryl and her husband, Don had not expressed that they wanted to be in the session, I felt it was important to include them in a few photos. Their pride and love for Lyndsey was beaming and because of the obvious bond they had with her, I wanted to make sure to include them.
Once the sun began to set, we moved to another nearby field where we could achieve the vision Cheryl wanted. I knew I had to get it right as this was her last time Lyndsey would have access to her uniform. In the end, they were very happy and even hired me again soon after for Lyndsey's senior portraits.
In no time at all Lyndsey and her parents packed up and moved to Searcy Arkansas. Lyndsey met her new coach, teammates, and had just begun making new friends. But, not long after she started her freshman year, the unthinkable happened. Lyndsey was involved in a terrible car accident. Lyndsey sustained very serious injuries, but the worst was yet to come. She also suffered severe brain trauma and could no longer swallow, communicate or move any limbs.
When my wife and I found out about the accident months later, we were heartbroken for this family. Lyndsey has since been transferred to several hospitals in different states. I reached out to Cheryl to let her know we were thinking about her, Don and Lyndsey. In her reply, Cheryl wrote something that meant a lot to me. She wrote, "I think of you every time I look at my phone and see the beautiful pictures of Lyndsey. We are so very Grateful for the beautiful pictures" . I felt so bad for her and yet, very honored that I was able to contribute, even in the smallest way, to making happy memories for them. To this day, over a year since the accident, Lyndsey has still not spoken and can only move one hand.
I felt it was important to share this story because sadly, life happens. So many people have said they want family photos but they put them off for one reason or the other. Had Cheryl not arranged to have these photos taken, her vision would have been lost forever. It turned out that this session was more important than anyone could have ever imagined. We continue to stay in touch with Cheryl and we support Lyndsey any way we can. There is a gofundme page in her name and I encourage you to visit.
If you live in the Lake Norman Area of North Carolina and are thinking about having portraits taken, Please feel free to CONTACT me with any questions you may have. I am always happy to give advice, even if you decide to hire a different photographer.