The Fotolanthropy Story

Fresh out of college, I traded aspirations of becoming an interior designer to follow my heart and pursue a hobby-turned-passion: photography. I built a successful portrait business and found joy in capturing the happiest moments of peoples’ lives. But, years passed and I began to feel burdened. To stay afloat in this business you must continually market yourself.  It’s all about your name, your brand, your photos, your events, and the list goes on. I was exhausted by the constant pressure to push my own name, and disheartened by my lost focus on the people in the pictures.

To rekindle my spirit, I started to think about charities and organizations where I could serve others. I longed for a way to use my camera for good, and began to pray about who and how I could help. I discovered organizations like Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Picture of Hope and Tiny Sparrow and was so moved by their work as they each honorably capture a sensitive subject. They were guiding lights and a source of inspiration to me when Fotolanthropy was a mere idea. I just couldn’t let go of this inkling I had. What if pictures came to life to tell a story in an even more compelling way? What would happen if I could combine photography, film and philanthropy? What if we could capture inspiring true stories of all kinds?

Everything changed on a busy July morning of 2011. I was preparing for a shoot when I received a phone call from a tearful mother. She was calling to ask if I would photograph James, her 8-month-old son, who had just been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. She knew his treatment would cause him to lose his hair, and was desperate for me to photograph her baby boy. My world stopped as I listened to her and, in that moment, I found the courage to tell her what I hoped to do through pictures and film. We quickly teamed up with a filmmaker and were able to capture the most beautiful footage and images of James with his parents. He got his wings a few weeks later and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and his family. The first Fotolanthropy short film was created to honor James’s life, paving the way for mine.

Since James’s story, Fotolanthropy has taken flight on a mission to bring joy through photography and film to families who have faced or who are facing difficult circumstances. Photographers from across the country have become FOTOcrew members and together we work with them so that they can provide families with a portrait session, a coffee table book and a DVD of all the photos. The chief FOTOcrew members based in Dallas also create 5-8 short films documenting powerful stories. By telling stories, we honor those who have faced adversity and give hope to others. We’ve been blessed to chronicle the stories of many, including a spirited family who lost their home in the Bastrop Texas fires, a four-year-old fighter with special needs, and a young man who simultaneously faced cancer and the joys of being a new father. At times, the calamity and sadness we see is overwhelming. Yet, the resilience and faith of people is the most inspiring thing I’ve encountered.

One of the most common questions I get from supporters is: How can I help? Fotolanthropy is a giving-based business and we need dollars to fund our mission. With a vision to have benefactors and ambassadors – rather than donors – we created FOTOstraps, fashionable, durable and customizable camera straps sold on our website. A portion of the proceeds goes to fund Fotolanthropy. In remembrance of baby James, our most exclusive FOTOstrap (and my favorite!) is called “The James.”

In addition, we’ve also invited photographers and filmmakers from all over the country to join our movement and to use their camera for good. We’re always looking for servant-hearted professionals to help us tell the stories we’re working on, or to create a Fotolanthropy project of their own. Visit our website to submit your application to join the movement of photographers using their camera for good and become an official FOTOcrew member!

Fotolanthropy has allowed me to use my passion and expertise in the most impactful way. I’m grateful for the opportunity and can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Click, Inspire, Remember,

Katie Norris

Founder of Fotolanthropy

One Response to “The Fotolanthropy Story”

  1. Kristi Creed says:

    What a wonderful post! I loved reading it. I love when we are called to serve others. That is what I love about being a nurse, but I also share a love of photography. I always enjoy the fotolanthropy posts.

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