Category Archives: Another Door Opens

Another Door Opens

Hello to everyone,

A very special note today. I am actually not sure where to even begin so please be patient with me. This is going to be a long post too. There is no easy way to explain all of this and so many people to thank. So, settle in:)

Let’s rewind to the late fall of 2008. I am scrolling through my facebook feed and lay my eyes upon the wonderful work of, Christine Kufske, from CLICK photography. When I visited  her website I was deeply moved by the Smiling Eyes Project she founded. Christine and her Smiling eyes team have been photographing children and adults who are terminally ill or in remission for six years. What an incredible gift Christine gives to people.

When I started my own photography business I knew that I wanted to give the gift of photos some how. Until now, I just hadn’t found that “thing” I wanted to do. I thought about it often. Had many ideas. Four years later. This is it.

Last fall, I had the great honour of meeting and photographing, Marny and Beth. Marny and Beth both lost their husbands when their children were very young. A situation neither of them ever imagined themselves in. Marny and Beth have taken those experiences and have committed their time, energy and hearts to other young widows by opening the Hummingbird Center for Hope. An organization that provides continuing bereavement support to men and women after the death of their spouse or partner.

Beth booked me for a photo session with her two children last fall. It was the first session that she had done since  Scott died.  I remember feeling sadness that day. Knowing there should have been someone else in those photos. I could feel him there. I could feel Beth behind me watching me photograph her children. I could only imagine what was going through her mind. I distinctly remember feeling great hope too. They were building new memories. We had a lot of laughs and we left feeling happy.  I left that shoot feeling inspired.

It was a few weeks later that I ran into Marny at Starbucks. It was through a conversation with her that I had one of those (Oprah) AHA! moments. That’s it. I was going to donate my time to photographing families who had lost immediate family members. My work was going to be a stepping stone to re-building and creating new memories for families. That is where my energy was best suited and where I knew I could best serve those who were healing their broken hearts.

And with that Another Door Opens came to be. I want to thank Christine, Marny and Beth for being my inspiration. For guiding my soul towards the path in which I was to give back with my photography and my life.

I could not have done this without an incredible team of women. Mandy, Sarah, Melanie and Emilee. My heart is bursting with pride as I write this to you. I am so proud to call you all friends (and family to Emilee!) and to have you involved in this special project. Mandy spent many hours on the website and many many hours listening to me talk about this project:)  Mandy – you have been a true gift to my life. Sarah, from the Design Truth donated her time and incredible skills to the logo for ADO and the beautiful packaging and branding. Sarah – your incredible energy for my never ending ideas and requests is appreciated more than you will ever know. I could not have done this without you both. Truly, I am thankful.

Melanie (a wonderful client of mine) and Emilee (my cousin!) will be a very important part of this project going forward as Another Door Opens expands into the community. A lifetime of thank you’s would never be enough. You have  touched my soul for stepping up and saying, “yes”, we are behind you on this! You are the perfect fit for Another Door Opens.

I also want to thank the Jordan family who you see in the photo below. They are my first ADO family. You are why I am doing this. You touched my soul and I am forever grateful that our paths crossed in life:)

Please take the time to read through ADO website. Each tab has information about all of us and about the concept. It also features two sessions that have been photographed for Another Door Opens and their reflections on the experience. I am committing two sessions a month through the fall. I would eventually like to have other photographers to help in giving this gift to families. Baby steps for now:)

I also want to thank my Mom. It’s crazy to think that I only told her about ADO this week! We talk almost everyday but somehow I just worked away quietly with a small team to bring this to life. I was overwhelmed with my Mom’s support and response when I told her about it. I will be 39 this year. And to this day, nothing feels better than a Mom’s blessing and joy for what you do. She left me with this note tonight, “The work you are doing is exceptional. You have brought joy into so many people’s lives. A true artist.” Thank you Mom:)

Much love and many thanks,


Here’s to remembering. Here’s to new memories.


Jenny F

This is amazing..I actually can’t stop crying right are a true inspiration and the work you are doing is one of a kind. So many families will appreciate this gift..

Melissa VanLeeuwen

Wow Hilary, you have so much to give, and it is no wonder that you have started “Another Door Opens”. You have a very kind heart:)

Christa Ormiston

Wow, this is inspiring. I lost my Father very young and it would have been such a gift to our family to have the opportunity to “Open a new door”. Time heals some pain, and a memory to remind us what is left to live for is an amazing gift to have hanging on the wall with the photos of our remembered loved ones right beside. All the best on this new path… I look forward to seeing your journey!

What you’re doing is very special. My mom died when I was eight – my dad was left with four kids under the age of 10. I know if someone had taken photos of our “new family” it would have been an incredible gift. Please know that you are taking more than photographs – you are helping people heal and move forward through what will likely be the most difficult time of their lives. God bless you.

John Bailey

Not to rock you’re boat But.
Taking pictures of people who are terminal could be a good thing, maybe a treasure to help for the coming years.
But taking a picture of a family with a missing member to me would never be good. Every time I would look at it, correct that I would never look at it.
I guess it would be ok if Grandma was missing that’s a natural thing, but for a young child to have their Mother or Father missing from a family photo is quite another thing. Not to mention a child missing.
Once you lose a family member there is no such thing as a new family photo. If I miss understood you’re intentions please excuse me.

Beautiful Hilary – You’re so busy, talented and doing so well it’s fabulous you’ve decided to start this. You’ll make such a difference in people’s lives and from that you’ll get such satisfaction I’m sure. Both you and Christine (Kusfke) are amazing : ) Best of luck xo

Wonderful journey ahead of you. How exciting and how many lives you will be connected to. I know this will be encouraging and uplifting to you and all entwined together thru your photography.
Thanks to you for opening your world to help others.

You are an inspiration. Another Door Opens is an incredible gift to give, and when I think of all the families you will help….it moves me to tears. Im lucky to call you a friend. Much love. J


You are so incredible, I’m so proud of you!!! What an amazing thing to do!!!! xx

michele roach

Hilary, as i sit here having my morning tea, you have once again brought me to tears… you are truly inspirational women, i think you will be the most fit fabulous 40 year old in town.
thank you for what you do and what you bring to this community


Hil, today I say goodbye to Rick’s cousin Kim, she is hands down the nicest woman I have ever met. But I have to say, you are right up there with her. You are an amazing woman inside and out. I am so proud to call you my friend. Love you xoxoxo

Love this, Hilary! I know that many families will benefit from your project and will appreciate their photos more than you know. As a photographer, I recently photographed a widow and her 10-week old baby girl. The baby’s father had passed away from cancer when she was just 8-weeks old. It was one of the most emotionally difficult sessions that I have ever done, but one of the most touching and memorable ones as well. Congratulations and wishing you much success with this new endeavour!

Beautiful! A true work of and from the heart. As I read your words I can also feel them. I wish you much happiness and success in everything that you do and touch. :)

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