22 February 2013

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

© 2012 Terrell Neasley and used with special permission from the family
"To introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture." 
~ NILMDTS Mission Statement

I received a text message on my phone from my area coordinator that requested a photographer come to one of the hospitals in the Las Vegas area. It was Super Bowl Sunday. I was out of town at the time. I watched my phone during the football game in-between plays to see who was going to respond to the urgent call. There were responses but all of them were replying, "Unavailable."

In most situations like this, if I'm busy but no one else is available, I'll try to take it upon myself to drop what I'm doing and answer that call, but I was 2,000 miles away this time. A baby had died. On Super Bowl Sunday. And of the few photographers who serve with the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation in the Las Vegas area, none were available because there are SO FEW of us doing it. All of us are professionals at what we do and when lacking in numbers the way we are, its inevitable that a call will go unanswered. However, this was a first for me in the three years I've been doing this. A hospital called on behalf of grieving parents and the call went unanswered.

© 2012 Terrell Neasley and used with
special permission from the family
So I'd like to make a special appeal to the local Las Vegas area photographers to consider donating some time to this cause. It is not an easy task by any means. A mother gives birth to a child who, for whatever reason, is not going to make it or may actually be stillborn. The only records that prove this child ever existed will be a birth and a death certificate with dates too close together. Many people will not understand this service and some may disagree with it. Nonetheless, that child still made an impact in this world if only for the briefest of moments. Lives that ripple out from the parents are affected...brothers and sisters, grandparents, friends of the family, and others. That child will be missed and that pain of loss can radiate outwards for quite some time. Having a well-done portraiture will mark the occasion better than anything else, as well as help bring healing, and a more positive way to remember that child.

© 2012 Terrell Neasley and used with
special permission from the family
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is a global foundation of affiliate photographers and volunteers who offer their professional services FREE of charge and at their own expense. The foundation serves the community by doing portraits of the babies and families involved. Last year, I photographed the family you see in these images who gave me special permission to use them to promote this cause. I very much appreciate their desire to help me ask you for your help. We are too few in numbers here in the Las Vegas Valley and could use your help. This is not an easy portrait session to so. Taking memorable photos of a deceased child or a dying child will be one of the hardest things you will encounter. Nonetheless, the need for our services is great and is only equaled by the need for more photographers to volunteer the help.

Right now is a great time to find out more about the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep foundation and to see if you can serve. The WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International) 2013 Convention is just around the corner and there will be a NILMDTS booth on the Expo floor. Better than this however, are the NILMDTS Certification classes that always accompany WPPI Conventions. So this is an excellent opportunity to submit your portfolios for review, get accepted, and attend the certification course in just a few weeks. So visit the site to become an affiliate photographer for the Las Vegas area and give us a hand in giving back to our community. We don't want anyone else to be turned away.

© 2012 Terrell Neasley and used with special permission from the family
If you simply KNOW for a fact that this is not for you, then no worries. No hard feelings. I have genres of photography that simply aren't for me as well. That's understood. It takes both a stomach and a heart to do this. No two assignments or cases are alike. I've been on some like the family in these pictures where I was with the family for 16 hours. Others were less than an hour. That doesn't matter. All that counts is answering the call, doing the job, and delivering your best work. For more information on Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, please peruse the website, contact the staff, or contact myself. I can only end this blog with this; We need your help. Even if you are not a photographer, there are ways you can volunteer or donate to the foundation. Thanks.