In January of 2011, I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Sarah and Scott, which took place at the James Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford, CT.
Based on this wedding, someone had noticed my work and wanted to hire me for another photography job. Up until that point, direct contact, referrals or word of mouth recommendations from wedding work would spawn more of the same: wedding and engagement work. But this referral was slightly different. Wonderfully different.
I received an email in late November from Dr. Kathleen Whitbread of the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, CT:
“Hi Mallury, I’m not sure if you do this sort of thing…”
She shared that she needed a new headshot for her consulting webpage and photos to accompany articles she had written. Over time, through more email correspondence, she revealed more than just a need for a headshot, but a vision, a project that she wanted to bring to life.
She had been specializing for years in work with children with disabilities and for this project; she wanted to start a blog centered on literacy and children with Down’s syndrome. She was looking for a photographer to help her capture images of children learning and reading and they would be accompanied with her thoughts, insights and research on literacy and Down’s syndrome.
“Yes. I’m in.” Without question.
After more planning and logistics, we were ready to go. Day one of the Open Books Open Doors project had arrived. The University of St. Joseph’s was the setting for the project. Six students in the university’s Special Education major were prepared to assist Dr. Whitbread. Literacy screenings were scheduled for numerous children throughout the day and well, I’ll let the images show you the fun that took place:
Note: I promise that I did not ask that little girl to pose that way for this photo (right). Horton Hears a Who is just that exciting.
Working with children is guaranteed to brighten your day. After this, Dr. Whitbread’s vision was real and the blog was up and running. Followers and positive comments poured in. It is still live and maintained by Dr. Whitbread. Please take the time to visit: Open Books Open Doors.
Dr. Whitbread continues her work today, holding literacy screenings across the state of Connecticut with more children and with more students assisting from the University of St. Joseph. She speaks at numerous Special Education conferences around the country, sharing her research knowledge and insights. She is touching the lives of teachers, students, families, and children, in person and through her blog, all over the nation, all over the world.