Jane Goodrich has a simple question: “Can I actually make one kid’s year just by taking a picture?”
Turns out she can – and you can help too, by supporting her work and sick children who need us.
Jane loves photographing children so much, she’s made a career of it. She specializes in portraiture of newborns and children. And as an identical twin herself, she particularly enjoys making images of twins. (Turns out parents of twins are often reluctant to have a photo session, fearing it’ll be twice as crazy as regular studio appointments; Jane makes house calls to help simplify things for families.)
Lately, though, she’s engaged in a project that has become almost as dear to her heart as her DNA-matching sister.
Jane had known for years that her grandmother (and namesake) died of lymphoma in the 1950s. (It’s a type of blood cancer.) In the late 1990s, the daughter of a friend of hers was diagnosed as well; she died in 2001.
We often hear about how medical research – and donated funding to support it – benefits patients; perhaps you, like me, had no idea it could make a major difference quickly. In fact, Jane says, “If Caitlin had been diagnosed now, she probably would have survived.” Just the past decade has seen advances dramatically improving the survival rate of lymphoma patients.
So Jane got involved, initially raising money for the cause by seeking sponsorships while training for a triathlon. But when she discovered that using the handlebars hurt her wrists (“I’m probably doing it wrong,” she admits) and prevented her from holding a camera, she found another way to help.
She started by offering to photograph events for her local Leukemia and Lymphoma Society chapter near New York City. Moved when she saw kids as young as eight speaking to large groups about challenges the related diseases present, Jane wanted to do more.
It wasn’t hard to decide to offer portrait sessions to the kids. First, it was “a way to give back to their families,” she says – many of whom have had to leave jobs to transport their sick child to treatment – and spend all their savings to pay for it.
But she could raise money for cancer research, too, by turning 12 kids’ portraits into a calendar that could be sold to benefit LLS. (She went into the sessions with clear guidelines, and reports that parents were thrilled to get a photo session and help the larger cause.)
There was a hiccup when her project’s timing – and her request for official approval from LLS – collided with the organization’s national rebranding initiative.
So she scaled back, but didn’t give up. She removed the LLS logo from the project, and worked with a designer she knew from previous endeavors to make the calendar and an e-commerce website (calendarsforthekids.com) where you can buy her work. She’s handling promotion, orders, and shipping herself, though she hoped to have more publicity and support from the LLS chapter. “I wanted to work with them a little bit closer,” she says, and still hopes that is possible next year. But for this year, rather than cancel or delay the project, “I took it out of their hands.”
“The main thing for me is you can use your talent to make an impact,” she says. “It’s not just for the kids, who have gone through so much, or the families, who may rarely get to see their kids in a beautiful way” – as opposed to undergoing some sort of treatment or bearing the scars of the battle. These aren’t just kids with cancer, Jane says – they’re people’s sons and daughters. And they’re members of our community.
She urges fellow photographers to engage with issues they care about. “If a photographer is passionate about a cause, they should just try and do anything.” It doesn’t have to involve a major calendar project – just shoot events or newsletter images, or whatever they need.
But if you’re going to go big, be aware that while you may understand the scale of the effort, others may not.
Some folks might look at her calendar and think it’s 12 photos of 12 kids (or, well, 24, because each month includes two pictures of that month’s child). But it’s full shoots, including prepping parents, letting the kids get familiar and relax, and all the regular portrait session kerfuffle.
Then add the fact that some of these kids are hospitalized or have medical procedures scheduled, which can make timing sessions complicated.
And then there’s editing the different shoots into a coherent calendar – which can be more difficult than it seems, taking images made in different places, at different times of day, and having transitions not be jarring from month to month.
But she’s pleased with the outcome, especially the fact that it will help the children. It’s also getting her business some attention. A few magazines and local newspapers have expressed interest in writing about her effort. And she’s already making plans for next year, including formal LLS approval (and perhaps publicity assistance), more diversity, and spreading the idea nationwide, whether as part of the LLS organization or chapter by chapter.
Help her help the kids. And hey, you can call it a business-development expense, if you consider doing a project like this in your community! Stop by calendarsforthekids.com – it’s just $14.95.
A New-York based newborn and children’s photographer with an artful eye and a modern edge, Jane Goodrich’s talent lies in her ability to capture a moment in time – no matter how quickly it passes.
Jane has spent her life behind the lens. She staged her first shoot at age 4 and spent much of her childhood as a not-so-patient subject for her sister’s photography business.
A twin herself, Jane loves shooting other multiples and siblings. With every shot, she aims to let the individuality of each child shine through and capture the uniqueness of their relationship. Jane’s natural connection with babies and children combined with her genuine aesthetic intuition translates into award-winning photos that are spontaneous, insightful, timeless and charming.
Jane is based in NY but she shoots regularly in Chicago, Denver and London, England. Other locations are available upon request.