It’s a typical part of many families’ lives to plan a portrait session with matching outfits and a beautiful outside location.
Their biggest stress factor during the session may be whether everyone will smile at the same time and look at the camera.
But for those who have a medically complex child, a professional photo shoot is usually not something they consider.
Children with chronic medical problems are often dealing with daily respiratory issues, seizure risks, and/or wheelchair accessibility, so planning and posing for a family shot rarely makes the to-do list.
It’s also an expense that medically complex families usually can’t afford because they must budget for items such as wheelchair vans, medical equipment or adaptive bathrooms.
Enter Yorklyn photographer Ana Yevonishon, owner of Expressions Photography.
Her day to day work includes photography of children, families, small business owners and school portraits. But it’s her “Portraits with a Purpose” sessions that are closest to her heart.
She photographs families who have medical complex children and gifts them with both the session and portraits. Both the session and the photos (five placed in archival mats) are valued at $1,000.
The “Portraits with a Purpose” experience is made possible by the generosity of Yevonishon and the sponsor families of each session — her other clients who have placed a qualifying order with her. They can automatically become a “sponsor” for another family who has a child with a medically complex disability.
“My husband and I are blessed to have three healthy children with no serious medical issues, but I always felt that I wanted to help those families who did,’ said Yevonishon. “When I started Expressions Photography, I wanted to find a way to give back. I wanted to do something ongoing that really meant something to people.”
Finding the families
The special needs families are chosen from two organizations Yevonishon works with in Delaware.
“I need to choose only from these two specific organizations because I focus on the medically complex children,” she said. “Before I had chosen the two organizations, I was overwhelmed with inquiries and wasn’t able to handle it fairly. I would love to help everyone, but I am only a one person company.”
In addition to the portrait sessions, Yevonison spends time talking with the families to learn more about the unique medical situations they face.
She then writes a blog about the family, the special needs child, and the sponsor if they would like to be recognized.
“This lets people know that I’m actually doing what I say I’m going to do, and it also may bring some awareness to their specific challenge.”
For medically-complex families such as Cindy Serrano’s and Ashley Smith’s, the photos – and the experience – are priceless.
“Ana captured the most beautiful photos of our family especially of Tyler and his sweet smile,” said Serrano, whose family lives in Newark. “We had wanted to have family photos taken for some time but given Tyler’s medical conditions, constant illnesses and hospitalizations it made it very difficult to schedule.”
Finding a photographer willing to accommodate the family needs could be a challenge.
“We are forever grateful to Ana and the family that sponsored our photo shoot and will cherish our portraits,” Serrano said.
Ashley Smith of Newark said the portraits of her and her daughter, Mica are such a gift.
“I’m a single mom so for the most part it’s me taking the pictures of my daughter Mica,” Smith said. “I do the best I can but getting our pictures taken professionally hasn’t been a possibility for us. It was such a special and amazing experience that Ana provided to us.”
Smith also was especially grateful to the sponsor family for her session.
“Thank you so much to the family who have provided this experience for my daughter and me, but also thank you to all of the families who have helped provide this experience for others,” she said. “It is very kind and thoughtful and it means so much to us to capture our children right now as they are.”
One of the sponsor families is Tina Klumpp of Hockessin, whose daughter, Savannah, had her senior portraits taken by Yevonishon.
“When Ana told me that we could sponsor a family through our purchase of Savannah’s senior portraits, I was beyond thrilled,” said Klumpp. “Not only did we get to preserve this time in our daughter’s life in such a unique and beautiful way, but we were able to provide the same experience to another family.”
She said her family is blessed to have had this experience.
” And for some families, the daily challenges are far greater and things like family portraits are not on their minds,” she said. “I love that Ana is able to lift up a family in this way.”
Yevonishon remains inspired to continue her portraits.
“I want to celebrate these amazing families and tell people how extraordinary they are through my blog,” she said. “They deserve it because they don’t even realize how extraordinary they are.”
Contact Yevonishon at email@example.com.