This month, I was privileged to spend an afternoon in the company of a family who had asked The Butterfly Wishes Network for photographs of their terminally ill little girl.
The Butterfly Wishes Network provides professional free photography for families of children with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses. It was set up in 2012 and I'm one of 300 photographers across the country who the charity reaches out to help them offer something invaluable to families that they can treasure forever.
Just before Easter, the Network was approached by a family in Newham. At three months, their little girl had been diagnosed with a very rare disease. Now ten months, she had been released from hospital and was receiving palliative care.
I went to visit the family after work one day to discuss how we could help. Several generations of the family were living in one home and we decided to turn their bedroom into a mini-studio to ensure the little girl was as comfortable as possible. Mum wanted to capture an element of fun - not only to show off their heritage through traditional dress and more angelic poses, but also to keep a lighter side. A father-daughter spa day. Cool rock-chick. Make Up and Jewellery, that sort of thing.
The shoot took place on Easter Monday. Dad had volunteered to take the bed apart, leaving a mattress on the floor to make life more manageable. I set the studio up and we got to work. I'd brought with me a number of backdrops as well as a a variety of cushions and supports to help the little girl's mobility.
We were blessed with the weather, so at the end of the day were able to take the family to the green at the end of the road for some more traditional family shots. The natural light and the space made all the difference to get our final photographs feel free and joyous.
I was humbled by the family's hospitality. Ramadan is a charitable time, and despite the shoot taking place in the daytime, I was fed wholesomely and have discovered a new love of Pakistani tea. As relative newcomers to the country, and as a family in need, I was told the charity's work had made such a difference to their view of the UK as a place where people can be kind and selfless to look after others.
I delivered the family's slideshow and gallery last week. This weekend I received a message which reiterates the importance and the difference a gesture like this can make.
We don’t have words to put on our feelings after watching these beautiful pictures.. this is just amazing.
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for being here for us, thank you for your precious time, thank you for your patience, thank you for your professionalism, thank you for your involvement.
It’s also time to appreciate people who are taking time from their busy schedules for others to put smile on other faces.