Pink Party for Hope

October 25, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I had the privilege of being invited to photograph a "Pink Party for Hope" last night in Lakeland, Fl at an All-State Insurance office by Julie Pierce.  


For this blog, I don't really want to talk too much about the technical aspects of the shoot but since I know that other photographers and many beginners read my blog, I will touch on them in a few parts.  Mainly though, I want to talk about the event itself and how breast cancer effects women and even men of all ages.  

I asked Julie about her inspiration for the Pink Party for Hope event:  

My inspiration for the event was my mother, we lost her to breast cancer when she was 55. I was a junior in high school te first time she battled breast cancer. Six years later there was another mass, this time it was a more aggressive cell type, that rapidly spread to her lymph nodes, spine, and rib cage. My mother was a beautiful woman inside and out. The treatments tear you about physically and mentally. I wanted to have the event, not just for awareness, but to support our friends that are survivors, and remember our loved ones that we lost.

The office is deep and narrow but there was enough room to hold the roughly 25 or so people who came along with snacks, refreshments and a very nice, homemade sangria.  One of the touches that I liked was that each food item that was placed out had a meaning behind it which was shown on the placards.  
Love Pink Sangria Strawberries for Strength Brownies Make You Brave Chips of Courage Promise Pinwheels

We set up a small photo booth in the back. There were a few small technical challenges here.  The room was very small, definitely not large enough for a backdrop with a stand and it had walls to both sides making the lighting a bit of a challenge as well.  There was only one electrical outlet and there was no way to use any kind of backlighting because the backdrop needed to be hung on the wall in lieu of a stand.  This is where a good photographer becomes creative and needs to rely on either one or two light sources.  I used a strobe on the right with a diffuser instead of an umbrella because there wasn't enough room for the umbrella and then I used a continuous light with a softbox on the left.  I also only had about 6-8 feet between my camera and the subjects as a maximum distance so I couldn't use a good portrait lens.  Instead I used an ultra-wide lens and did the corrections to the distortion in photoshop.  The main thing you want to remember is to just get the shots.  I knew that these photos aren't for a magazine or anything else.  They were meant for fun and to help give the girls something to remember it by.  Always keep your end-goal in mind when setting up your shoot.  Things won't always be perfect but you don't have to tell your client that, you're getting paid to accomplish their goal.  


I want my friends and family to feel beautiful, which is why I wanted the silly photos. Statistics show us that 1 in 8 will be diagnosed with breast cancer, which holds true, even in our very small sampling, 2 of our 20 guests had been. Cancer is by no means a glamorous thing, but these are some very spectacular woman that are close to us that have been through it.

Finally a survivor named Amber told her story to the rest of the group that was there.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of only 24 years of age.  The small space and intimacy of the group ensured that no eye was dry upon the conclusion of her speech.  She also noted that her aunt, who was also in attendance had just been diagnosed as well.  There are men and women of all ages being diagnosed these days.  If there's one final thing that I learned, you must get yourself checked out and do self-exams, if you feel a lump, go to the doctor and be vigilant about getting a mammogram done.  

I wanted to have a small intimate group. I wasn't sure how comfortable my little space would have been if I had try to go too big. I definitely felt the intimacy in our group last night when Amber shared her story, it was so much harder than I thought. I think for Amber it was theraputic to be able to share her experience. She was nervous ahead of time, and I told her not to worry about it, we didn't have an agenda, I wanted her to be there and have a good time. She responded, "no I want to, I think it helps bring awareness". I think for her that it also helps her to heal, and to really be able to say - this is my story, this is what I went through- and being able to say she got through it, when many others don't, it's an amazing story.

Amber McDuffie shares her story 6 years after being diagnosed with cancer at 24.
Thank you for taking the time to read, please feel free to comment if you have any questions or if you just want to share a story of your own or a family member's survival.  


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