Radio Interview Transcripts

MorePhotos Radio - Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep: Child and Infant Memorial Photography Services
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ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the More Photos’ Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by Morephotos.com helping professional photographers with all their internet needs. Also brought to you by Labimages.com. Finally, an e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here is your host, Damien Allen.  DAMIEN: Good morning and welcome to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and joining me today on the telephone is Jacque Lopez, the Executive Director of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Good morning, Jacque, welcome to the program.
 
JACQUE: Good morning, thank you.
 
DAMIEN: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a very special service. Could you please tell us what exactly you do with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Jacque?
 
JACQUE: Our organization coordinates a network of volunteer photographers around the country and around the world, and the service that we provide is infant bereavement photography. So our photographers are called out to the hospitals when a family finds out that their infant is either going to be stillborn or is not going to survive long after birth, and we provide a free portrait session. All of our photographers are approved and provide professional portraiture, and what we do is we turn around and professionally retouch these images and then give a free CD with all the images and a copyright release so they can have them printed anywhere.
 
DAMIEN: How did the foundation get started, Jacque?
 
JACQUE: Well it really did get started with the first mom and the first photographer. Our co-founder, Sheryl Haggard, had her little boy, Maddox, and it was just about 6 years ago, this time of the year. When he was born, he wasn’t breathing on his own and found out he had a condition that would not allow him to breath or eat on his own or have any muscle control, and they had to make the very painful decision to take him off of life support. He lived for six days, because he was on all of the machines keeping him alive, Sheryl had a lot of time to walk the halls of the hospital, and she saw all these beautiful portraits done by a local photographer, Sandy Putch, and she decided she wanted some similar portraits of her son, Maddox. So she called Sandy, and Sandy basically rearranged her schedule, cancelled all of her sessions, dropped everything and came out and did this portrait session. Now from that Sheryl knew what those images meant to her, and she knew that while she was in the hospital there was at least one other family going through the same thing that didn’t get images and shortly after that the other co-founder, Sandy Putch, was called out to another session in a similar situation for a completely different family and so the two of them started talking about what if we offered this service? How important would it be to offer this to families so they can have these memories and they can have healing through their grief, and that’s really where it started.
 
DAMIEN: How large is the organization, and how many countries are you located in?
 
JACQUE: Well we range between 25 and 35 countries at any given time. Sometimes we only have one volunteer in a country as they are trying to grow our organization. Right now we are at about 25 countries with at least one active volunteer in them. We have a network of over 7,000 photographers that have been approved as volunteers, but at any given time, we have between 2700 and 3000 that are actively taking sessions and offering our services.
 
DAMIEN: Now this as this is a very compassionate remembrance, how long does a typical session take?
 
JACQUE: It really does vary in time, but it can be anywhere from 15 minutes to about 45 minutes, and often things that drive it are just, you know, what else is going on at the hospital, the room that they have available for the baby, and the space they have to work in.
 
DAMIEN: Jacque what benefits do you see for families in the healing process with these portrait sessions?
 
JACQUE: We hear from families all the time. The comments we get is being able to remember is so important, being able to acknowledge that their baby was here and was a real part of their lives. They tell us that it’s wonderful to have their baby’s story captured and that story is part of the legacy of their child. The memories they have acknowledge that their baby was here and was a vital part of their lives.
 
DAMIEN: How can a photographer become part of this caring organization ?
 
JACQUE: On our website we do have an application process. We do require a review of all photographers that want to participate in this service. We only have one opportunity to capture these images so we have to make sure that they have adequate skill level, they’ve got professional level equipment, and that they have a knowledge of lighting, because in the hospital room sometimes it’s either really poor lighting or florescent. There may not be any natural light. So they can apply online on our website, and then our review team who is also a team of volunteers will look at their website and look for samples of work that are similar to what we need to produce in the hospital. And from that there is an evaluation done by a review team and if they meet the minimal score, then we approve them.
 
DAMIEN: Is there some form of training that the foundation offers as well to the photographers?
 
JACQUE: There is. We have a printed training manual that every photographer gets as soon as they are approved and activate their membership with us. In addition to that, we have a six and a half hour certified training course that is offered. We have some photographers that are volunteer certified trainers and they do take these training sessions around the country. Now knowing that we can’t get out to every part of the country quickly as a volunteers are being approved, we have also developed online video based training that we just started offering this month.
 
DAMIEN: What if someone is not a photographer? Are there other types of volunteers that the foundation uses?
 
JACQUE: We have a few. We are primarily a photography based organization, but we do have folks that want to volunteer. They typically work with photographers already. They may just volunteer as an assistant to the photographer volunteering to go in and help carry equipment, help them with lighting and posing. Most of those folks are already in relationship with the photographer and assisting them at their studio. So that’s still kind of a photography based, but we do have a physician that is a parent-coordinator, and those folks become liaisons to the community and they assist our local volunteer photographer networks in multiple ways and they can go out and get into hospitals to make the hospitals aware of the services that we offer. They can also recruit more photographers in the local area, and just bring about community awareness. That’s the role for a parent liaison. Some of them even agree to coordinate the calls for a hospital. So when a hospital needs a photographer, they can call one of these parent liaisons and they will locate a local photographer for them. So there is that position as well. And the other position is a digital retouch artist. We have a lot of folks that don’t actually go in and take the sessions, but they are willing to help professional retouch the images to either assist photographers or even come along to hospitals when maybe a volunteer couldn’t be located or something happened in the middle of the night very quickly and the nurse took images. We do offer to professional retouch those as well.
 
DAMIEN: How can a family find a photographer fort his service in their home town?
 
JACQUE: Well the simple answer is that through our website we have a find a photographer search and you can enter your zip code and see if there is a local network in your area, but often times when going through such a tragic loss, a family may not even be thinking about that, and it may be very sudden. So for us making the hospitals and the nursing staff aware of the services, they really do act as a liaison between the family and finding our services. Most of the time hospital staff makes the family aware, and they will help undertake the search for a photographer, but if families do know that if their child has been given a diagnosis that is incompatible with life, and they have knowledge ahead of time, they can go out to our website and use our Find a Photographer search and just search based by their zip code.
 
DAMIEN: Jacque, what do you think is the most important skill needed for these sensitive and compassionate portraits?
 
JACQUE: Boy, one skill that is really hard to narrow down…key things you have to be passionate for a mission. It’s difficult work, and unless you are really passionate to give back in that way, the session may become very difficult, but even that passion for the mission still requires that there are key photography skills especially around knowing how to control and manage light in difficult situations.
 
DAMIEN: How long have you been involved with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and what drew you to this organization?
 
JACQUE: I have been here since August 2008. So this coming August it will be 3 years. What drew me to this organization is in my previous job I actually worked for my church and so when that position ended it was really hard to just get back into a corporate position without really looking for something I could be passionate about and really connect to the purpose and the mission of the organization. So when this job opening came up, you look at the mission and the service we provide and that was something I could find a lot of meaning in.
 
DAMIEN: Well if someone is looking for more information on Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and the photography services you offer, what is the contact information they would need to locate you?
 
JACQUE: Our website is www.nowIlaymedowntosleep.org and most of our information is on there, but our main headquarters email is headquarters@nilmdts.org and our 800 number is (877) 834-5667.
 
DAMIEN: We’d like to thank you very much for joining us today and sharing this wonderful organization with our listeners.
 
JACQUE: You’re welcome, thank you for inviting me. 
 
DAMIEN: We were very happy to have you today. We have been speaking with Jacque Lopez of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. You have been listening to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, everybody have a great afternoon.  
 
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