amazing family :: twin cities children's photographer

I met up with this amazing family last weekend at their home to capture some family portraits. They are the recipients of my Giving Is Awesome giveaway this year. As a part of their package, they have received a complementary session, as well as a $1500 print credit to use however they wish. Their little boy, Ben, was diagnosed over a year ago with a genetic eye disorder. In September of last year, they received even worse news - he has a very rare immune disorder which will require him to get a bone marrow transplant. He will be admitted to the hospital sometime within the next couple months, and will need to undergo a full 7-10 days of chemo prior to the transplant, and then 4-6 weeks to recover. You can read more about them on my post here.

Ben is a spunky little boy - full of energy and determination. He had me racing around the house chasing him, and collapsing in fits of giggles. Then took turns snuggling in with mom and dad for some reading time, but only after sneaking a brownie from the kitchen!

And his big sister Lydia? Such a flair for the theater, this one! Loved romping in their snowy backyard and showing me her costumes when we got inside. Long live Queen Lydia! Full of stories and infectious smiles.

I felt so lucky to spend the afternoon with this family - when I left, I was greeted by a tumble-down-hug from Lydia, and its gentler counterpart by Ben (more of a lean, than a hug, and infinitely sweet). Their family has such a wonderful connection, and it's so apparent how they appreciate every minute they have together. One of the very best parts about being a family and children's photographer is getting the opportunity to meet such amazing families in the Twin Cities. I could not possibly ask for a better job.

Keep this family in your thoughts and prayers these next few months. And also please visit the National Marrow Donor Program website to find more information about donating bone marrow. You can give the gift of life to someone like Ben.

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This is my absolute favorite type of family photo - one with a whole body belly laugh! Bring on the tickles!

winning family :: minneapolis child photographer

Happy New Year to you all! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and were able to spend some time with family and loved ones. I took some time off from my work to gather with family, spend time with the kids, work on some (major) house projects, splash at the water park, play Santa Claus, and sleep in. Now the kids are back at school, swimming lessons, art class, cub scouts, homework, ECFE, and all our weekly activities are starting back up. Busy busy.

I wanted to share a little bit about the family I chose as the winner of my portrait session giveaway. It was an extremely difficult decision - I received so many heartbreaking stories. But this one especially touched me, maybe because this little boy is so close in age to my son, Elliott.

Ben is two years old, and was diagnosed about a year ago with a genetic eye disorder. The main issue with this condition is his compromised eyesight. Ben wears glasses, and that helps him to be able to see better.

However, in September of last year, they received another diagnosis, this time much more serious. Ben was diagnosed with a very rare immune disorder. He will require a bone marrow transplant soon, and will need to spend 4-6 weeks in the hospital. Prior to the transplant, he will be undergoing 7-10 days of chemotherapy, to clear out all of the abnormal cells so he can start fresh with the new cells.

They are still looking for a bone marrow donor. Please visit the National Marrow Donor Program website to find more information about donating bone marrow. You can give the gift of life to someone like Ben.

Ben has a big sister who is 4 years old, and I'm sure Ben's transplant will be very hard on her as well. I can't wait to meet both Ben and Lydia, and their parents, and give them some photographs which I hope they will treasure forever. They will be receiving a complementary session, as well as a $1500 print credit to use however they wish.

I have been so blessed to be able to do what I love, and this is a small way I can give something back to the community. I challenge each of you to find one way you can give back, even something small. Maybe you can buy a gift card for the person standing in back of you in line at the coffee shop. Or volunteer your time at a local school. Go through your closet and donate the clothing you don't wear any more. Or maybe your profession would allow you to donate a service to a deserving family.

Just do something.

giving is awesome :: minneapolis children's photographer

UPDATE: I have chosen a winner, and have sent them an email. As soon as I hear back from them, I will post a few details! Last year, Kristen Kalp of Essential Imagery started a grassroots movement. She put a challenge out to the photography community to give the gift of photography to deserving families who wouldn't ordinarily be able to afford custom portraits. Last year I joined the movement, and was able to give an amazing single mom and her four kids some portraits of her beautiful family. This mom was so inspired that she used the same idea to give a deserving family the gift of her midwife services. I love how the spirit of giving is so contagious.

This year I am so excited to be participating again.

And here's where you come in...

You know someone who can’t afford custom photography, but who would cherish it this holiday season. You know someone who’s experienced a tragedy, is struggling to stay afloat, is raising kids while holding down more than one job, or is volunteering selflessly despite extenuating personal circumstances. You know someone who deserves a year-round reminder of their family’s spirit, love, and beauty.

You know someone. I guarantee it.

I want to know who they are, and I want to give them the chance to experience complimentary custom photography – $1500 worth, to be exact. Whether it’s a canvas or an album, prints for Grandma, or a slideshow to watch over and over, it’s in your power to give them the artwork they deserve this holiday season. The winner will receive a complementary session along with a $1500 print credit to use however they wish.

Oh, and the best part? The person who nominates the winner also receives a free session ($200 value) and $500 in print credits. What better reason to show some love could there possibly be?

The rules:

* You cannot nominate yourself, and the person nominated must sincerely be incapable of purchasing my services. (Being unable to make mortgage payments for a two-million-dollar-vacation-home in Paris does not qualify as sincere financial need.)

* The nominee must reside in the Twin Cities area (that would be in Minnesota, for all you non-Midwesterners). Tell me who you know, what they’re experiencing, and why they deserve my artwork. Please include a way to contact both your nominee and yourself as well.

* You must e-mail me the full story : gwen@gwendolynwaite.com by midnight December 23rd.

The winner will be announced here on my blog on Christmas Eve.

Get nominating! I can’t wait to read all of your entries.

Open your heart to someone this holiday season — and thanks for giving me the opportunity to open mine.

Giving *is* awesome.

Something else that is awesome? My three kids. Here they are.

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ripple effect :: minnesota children's portraits

Last winter, I put out a call to nominate a deserving family, as part of the "Giving Is Awesome" program. Please read my blog post here for some background on the program. Last weekend I finally was able to get together with the winning family and have a session. It was well worth the wait. I love love love that she let each of the kids pick their own clothes, and that they came in sets of two: two sleeveless blues and two pink tees, and everybody in jeans. So cute. Vanessa is nothing short of incredible. She's a single mom of four, and is a homebirth midwife. For anybody who knows me personally, you know that I am a huge supporter of homebirths. All three of my kids were born at home, and we were blessed with amazingly peaceful, joyful waterbirths.

It makes me so happy to offer this gift to this family. Vanessa told me at the end of the session that she was inspired by this gift to do something like it with her own business. She owns a waterbirth tub rental service for the Twin Cities, and recently donated two tub rentals to families who wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise. What an amazing gift. I love how one simple act of kindness has such a ripple effect throughout the community. Bless you, Vanessa.

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