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See Me – Just the Beginning

31 days has gone by since I first made the post introducing this project. But this is not the end. It is the beginning of further acceptance, hope and love for people born with Down syndrome. As I write this on the eve of the 31st and last day of, ‘See Me’, my eyes are filled with tears and my heart is simply full of gratitude.

This last post for 31 days 31 faces of 2016 is one dedicated to giving thanks. This is no small endeavour and surely takes a village! I am thankful for mine.

I must first thank, Kate Herron. Without you, our friendship and the miracle birth of Caleb – none of this would ever exist. I would not have met all of these wonderful people that have enriched my life and changed me inside forever. Without you, I would never have thought that my work had the potential to drive change in the world.  You stood by my side for all of the sessions, interviewed with me from your heart and believed in this journey. It is an experience that will bond us forever.

Thank to you Mandy and Christa. My most loyal and trusted friends in this industry. Continually supporting and driving for only the best. Together these two women spent countless hours on the re touching of the final photos and the design you see on all of the print work. I am forever indebted to you both. I am one lucky woman to have you both in my life.

Thank you to Sylvia Cook and Arisa Alexanian of the Waterloo Regional Down Syndrome Society for your support and positivity. For allowing me to help show the world just how special each of these individuals are. You welcomed me into the WRDSS family without judgement or question.  Thank you for taking the time from your full lives to answers emails and provide feedback. I sincerely appreciate it.

To Meghan Semple. The beautiful face behind every Twitter post for the entire 31 days!! I value our friendship and your willingness to help me whenever needed. You are a true friend.

Susan Cranston I thank you for your guidance on rolling this out and for a fabulous press release. And to Amanda Kind for the proofing of my recent article and caring as much as I do about this.

Many heartfelt thanks to the Waterloo Chronicle, CBC Radio, Rogers Daytime and the Spoke for seeing the value in this project enough to bring it to the attention of our community. This story did not bleed. It was not full of sex or death. It was the story of these families and their lives living and loving those with Down syndrome. It IS an important message and I value your organizations for supporting local stories and the every day lives and challenges of regular people.

Thank you to EVERY SINGLE PERSON in this region and beyond who shared our faces and spread positive messages! This would not have been nearly the success it was without people CARING. Every message  and comment both publicly and privately were noticed by us all.

I want to give a very special thank you and shout out (from the highest peak in Waterloo!) to Steve Nicholson, whose son Michael is in the project, for posting these faces on the WRDSS page and creating our slideshow. Your kindness and prompt attention to this every single day did not go unnoticed. You were wonderful to work with!!

To … Adam, Ashlan, Benjamin, Caleb H, Charlotte, Connor, Caleb, Chloe, Chase, Clara, Colin, Chloe, Cristina, Daydar, Desmond, Eli, Emma, Ethan, Gavin, Jeremy, Kate, Kaia, Kaleb, Kailyn, Kali, Karly, Kason, Katie, Keiran, Kira, Katie, Liam, Maddie, Maguire, Micheal, Natalie, Noelle, Owen, Oliver, Ren, Rene, Russell, Ryan, Samantha, Seamus, Shannon, Wysdom, Taylor, Victoria and Zachary…. I thank you. I thank you for growing my love of humanity when I didn’t think it could grow anymore. Thank you for your hugs, your trust in me and every smile, smirk, pensive look and silly face. Each of your faces and hearts will be with me forever. It is because of you that I look longer at people in this world. I SEE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU.

Lastly but most importantly to the people that have touched me the deepest. The parents of these children. You have moved me in a way that is very difficult to express. The fierce and unconditional love you have for your children is admirable. I saw it in your eyes during every session. Those looks are forever burned into my memory. I see your children the way you do. I am now hoping that more of the world will too. I just want you to understand how deeply grateful I am to each of you for sharing a part of your family and hearts with the world.

Well, I guess lastly is my family! My Mom….forever my biggest champion. Your words of wisdom helped formulate the title of this project. My hubby for sharing with our girls around the dinner table the articles written and making sure our girls understood the importance of this in our community and to each of these people and their families. Showing them that we all have the ability to do positive things in this world and to help others.

The 2017 ‘See Me’ Calendar is now available for purchase November 1st at www.wrdss.ca for $10. All proceeds go directly to the families of the WRDSS to fund programs, public awareness, events, parental support and newsletters. Let’s blow away last years numbers!!!!!

I do hope there is a day when we don’t need a project like this to remind people to look beyond just the outside of another human being to see that inner light that shows us that we are more alike than we know.

ps- The 2018 concept has already been born:)

Until next year,

Hilary xo 

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WRDSS_Chloe M
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See Me.

Hello to everyone!

Just over a year ago, a fateful conversation took place in my studio that has since brought more purpose, gratitude and love into my life. I accepted one of the most important projects of my career so far.

Early last fall I photographed 31 children and adults for the Waterloo Region Down Syndrome Society’s annual fundraising calendar. True to my Type A personality just taking the photos for the calendar wasn’t enough.

Last October we launched a project entitled, ’31 days 31 faces’. Every morning we released a child’s photo and a quote from their parent(s). The feedback, support and interest in the project was overwhelming. Messages both publicly and privately came in from all over Canada and the US. At the end of the campaign, WRDSS had sold four times the number of their annual fundraising calendar over the previous year.

During the winter I began to think of this years calendar. I thought of these wonderful human beings that I met last year and their families. How was I going to create something special for them again?

This year I began photographing in August. I decided to take the photos in my studio and to present a collection of black and white portraits which focus on the face and soul each individual. Over the course of 31 days 53 people with Down syndrome in our region from the ages of 4 months to 44 years old came to have a photo taken and to participate in this years calendar.

My studio was filled with laughter, a few nerves and so many wonderful people. I am incredibly honoured to present this years project entitled, ‘See Me.’ My name for the project is simple. Everyone just wants to be seen. Not for what they look like on the outside; tall, short, large, thin, black, white, brown, old, young, disabled or not. But seen for who they are as human beings. Compassionate, friendly, funny, empathetic, supportive, helpful, caring. People with aspirations, likes and dislikes. People with friends and families who love them.

It wasn’t that long ago that babies born with Down syndrome were not seen. Many of these babies, children and adults were institutionalized and did not live full lives. They were made fun of, were not understood or valued as members of our society.

Thankfully this has changed and still needs changing. Children with disabilities are integrated into our schools, their families have found support groups and the life expectancy of people with Down syndrome has improved greatly due to better medical care and support from our communities.

It is important to continue to support diversity in our communities and beyond and to teach our children to really SEE people. Please help support this project by sharing these beautiful faces throughout the month of October. Calendars go on sale November 1st. You can see the photos posted daily on the WRDSS Facebook page, One for the Wall Photography Facebook page or on my instagram @oneforthewall. I present…See Me.

31 days 31 faces Collage3

 

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Nicole

Hello to everyone!

Ok let’s make it five posts for tonight and then it’s off to bed!  This session happened late this spring. I feel like I was just staring down the beginning of my outdoor shoots only days ago and now I have one non-snow season left to wrap up 2015.

I met Nicole when she came along to the headshot sessions for the KW Youth Theatre. She is one of the directors/coaches for many young aspiring actors.

Nicole. Actor. Performer.

Hilary xo

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Family That Loves

Hello to everyone!
What you are experiencing tonight is very much a reflection of my personality. I know two speeds and always have. 120% and 0. Tonight it’s 120% which explains the 4 blogposts in a row!

How is it possible that I am this lucky to have so many incredible families come my way? It is a fact that I never take for granted.
Beautiful August night. Five stylin’ people (of course they are – Mom is an interior decorator). Thank you for your positive energy and pure love.

Hilary xo

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Ben Skipper

Hello to everyone!
I am actually really looking forward to blogging more of my headshot sessions. Working with someone one on one is a much different dynamic than interacting with multiple people and the interactions between them. It’s just you, the camera and one person that you set out to tell their personality to the world. I love it.

Ben Skipper. Actor. Singer. Performer. Pure awesome.

Enjoy!

Hilary xo

 

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