I Picture Hope is an international association of professional photographers, makeup artists, and stylists who offer free sessions to women affected by breast cancer. It was founded in September 2011 by professional photographer Camille Neighbors of Camille Denae — Portraits Celebrating Beauty, in Post Falls, Idaho.
Camilleʼs mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. “Having someone you love go through something like cancer forces you to see things you might have missed before,” Camille explained. “I saw such beauty in my mom as she endured treatments, declared a war against cancer, had her grandchildren help shave her hair to make it less scary for them, and we walked around with our matching shaved heads. At every moment, my mom was beautiful to me. Iʼm blessed that her ﬁght with breast cancer was victorious, and I feel compelled to do something to help other women see beauty in themselves when breast cancer has threatened to take it from them.
Camille’s mom Linda, the lady who inspired it all. Photo Credit: Camille Danae
“After setting up a temporary webpage with a little information I was receiving emails everyday from people around the world wanting help. Photographers from countries all around the world had applied for I Picture Hope in less than 48 hours of itʼs inception. Now there are makeup artists and stylists joining as well. It is inspiring to see how many people are willing to use their talents for such a great purpose.”
Photographers around the world can get involved in I Picture Hope by signing up to be a volunteer at www.ipicturehope.com. Their studio name and website will be added to a searchable world wide map on the site. Volunteers agree to offer women with breast cancer a free photo session and five fully edited digital ﬁles with a personal use print release. Guidelines and support are offered to photographer volunteers after they sign up through a facebook group. It’s a great way to promote a photography business while also giving back to the community and helping individual women cope. “Itʼs just our way of saying “You are beautiful. Youʼre still a woman, no matter what cancer has taken from you.”
Photo Credit: Caroljean Strawn
Caroljean Strawn of Full Life Photography chose to volunteer with I Picture Hope because she wanted to use her talent in a way that would encourage and uplift others. “A woman who goes through breast cancer deals with many issues surrounding their self-image and womanliness. I can imagine it is very difficult, and I want to be able to use my camera to help them see that they are still a beautiful woman…even more beautiful.”
“I truly enjoy hearing the stories these women have to tell. It makes me happy to know that I conveyed their stories through my images in a way that made them feel more beautiful and brave about having gone through their experience. A brave beauty is my favorite kind of beauty! They have so much to offer the world, because they have gone through this experience. They have the strength and wisdom to help others through the same journey. That is special.”
Photo Credit: Debbie Leanne Jones
Debbie Leanne Jones of Debbie Leanne Photographer volunteered for several reasons. “The first reason is because I photograph women for a living and I see beauty in them that they do not see themselves. I want to remind all women of their true beauty, regardless of their circumstances.”
“Secondly, my best friend lost her son in utero 7 years ago. She had her sister come to the hospital and take photos of her son when he was delivered. To this day, those images are some of her most precious possessions. I want to be able to provide the women I photograph with images both they and their family can cherish for years to come. To capture that moment in time. Because their lives will be forever changed by their diagnosis.”
“Thirdly, about 2 years ago, when I went home to Australia, I photographed a 10 year old boy and his family, who was in remission from his battle with cancer. He passed away last Christmas and his family continued to thank me for the images I had captured during our session.”
Debbie was truly humbled by her first experience with I Picture Hope. “It was an honor to bless my client, Lorry with her IPH session. I provided a hair and makeup woman to come pamper her (which Lorry joked she didn’t need, as all of her hair fell out 2 days before the shoot). To see Lorry sit there smiling, with joy on her face, as she told me about her family, her cancer and the changes that were coming in her life, made me stop and think about all the small things I take for granted on a daily basis. Lorry had already lost her first husband to cancer, 12 years earlier, so her children knew first hand how it felt to lose a parent. Lorry was determined to show her children that cancer is just a word, to give them hope, and to show them that to have cancer wasn’t a death sentence…
Photo Credit: phoTobin Photography
Sarah Smith, hair and make up artist at phoTobin Photography had the pleasure of traveling to Paris with Sue Bryce and Hailey Bartholomew to assist in the making of a beautiful documentary about Jill Brzezinski-Conley’s battle with cancer and came home inspired. She had met Camille, the founder of I Picture Hope, at a CreativeLive workshop in Seattle, and along with her photographer husband Tobin, decided to join the movement.
“We are a modern glamour portrait studio so that is what we offer for our I Picture Hope sessions. Our first one
was an almost 70 year old woman who had fought and won her first few battles with breast cancer and was in the midst of another battle. Her daughter got in touch with us. We had a wonderful shoot and she had a great time. She was worried about her scars but honestly, I didn’t even notice them. She was radiant and we got to capture that for her. Her daughter has written us and told us countless times how grateful she is for the photos we did of her mother. Since her session her daughter has noticed a boost in her confidence and a bounce in her step and she is
now on the other side of her treatments, healthy and strong.”
Photo Credit: Persuasion Boudoir by Chelsea LaVere
Some photographers encounter challenges during their I Picture Hope shoots. Carol Jean said her biggest challenge was to get her subject excited about having photographs taken. She said, “I am not sure how to overcome that, but I think one thing I might do in the future is share a few blogs posts from some IPH members. Maybe find a book or some articles to inspire her about the importance of telling her story to give others hope. That is what I Picture Hope is all about.
Debbie Jones said the biggest challenge was trying not to cry. “I know that probably sounds strange, but Lorry was such a strong woman. Even though tears would well in her eyes as she talked to me of her children and late husband, she was never without a smile on her face. She was so positive and such an inspiration. In fact, when I received a diagnoses earlier this year of skin cancer, I immediately thought, “If Lorry can survive breast cancer, this is nothing!”
For Sarah and Tobin the biggest challenge is keeping a balance. “We would love to do these sessions all the time and living in a big city there is no shortage of amazing women we would LOVE to photograph with I Picture Hope but we have to also keep in mind that we are a business and have to pay the bills. We have said that we will dedicate 6 shoots a year to I Picture Hope and see where it goes from there.”
Photographers participating in I Picture Hope seem to be doing so for personal enrichment and a sense of giving back. Professionally, Tobin and Sarah haven’t really seen any true benefit of participating. “We tread the very fine line of doing for the people we are helping versus doing it to get some good press. I do hope to get the message out there that more young women are getting breast cancer and no matter what that disease takes from you, everyone is beautiful and everyone deserves to see themselves that way.”
Photo Credit: phoTobin Photography
Personally, it’s a completely different story for the Smiths. “Every person who comes into our studio impacts us but being able to help someone through this is amazing. We become bonded and feel so blessed that they are willing to trust us and open up to us. We don’t know if or what it would ever become but we are now doing a small interview with these women after their shoots about what they just experienced, where they are in their treatment and if there was one thing they would like to share with the world.”
Debbie Jones would encourage all photographers to give away a free shoot to someone in need. “No matter what that need may be. An abused wife, a stillborn baby, a military family with a spouse deploying, it doesn’t matter. You just never know the importance of those moments in a person’s life. It truly is a blessing.”
CREDITS : Photographs have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artists.