Helping preserve precious memories

PROFESSIONAL photographer Carolyn Everard takes photographs of primarily happy occasions, like weddings, glamour photography, and family portraits.

But the Sale-based photographer and mother of two knows there is more to life than just the moments that make people smile, and hopes to help preserve bittersweet memories for parents who have had a stillborn child or a child with a critical illness.

A new member of not-for-profit volunteer organisation Heartfelt, which edits and packages photographs for families suffering a loss, Ms Everard completed her first photoshoot of a local family last month.

“I think it’s very meaningful they will have the photographs recognising their baby as a person, which can help with the healing,” Ms Everard said.

“It is very humbling to be able to do this; you have to be respectful and mindful of (the family’s) wishes.”

Ms Everard is, to her knowledge, the only Heartfelt photographer serving the central and east Gippsland area.

“I heard about Heartfelt at the last digital show held by (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) in Melbourne and wanted with all my heart to be part of this organisation,” she said.

“I believe it will be challenging at times and I will see families at some of the darkest times of their lives, (but) I also believe it will be rewarding to be leaving them with memories of a child they love so much.”

She said as a parent herself, she believed children were great gifts and “we want to remember everything about them, (so) photographs help us remember those moments as time passes.”

Ms Everard recalled her own personal experiences, of having lost her older brother when she was younger, and more recently, having a friend of hers lose her little girl.

“It just strikes home how important having photographs are; they’re all you have left,” she said.

“My friend’s family was so thankful they had the photos to look at; it’s very sad but rewarding.”

With a volunteer base in parts of the United Kingdom and all over Australia, Heartfelt provides complimentary, compassionate individual or family portrait sessions for families who meet their criteria, who have had a stillborn baby, a critically premature or ill child, as well as babies and children up to 16 years with serious and terminal illnesses.

The photographers will go to the hospital or the family’s home and provide up to 20 prints as well as a disc of images, which costs around $40 to produce.

While Ms Everard acknowledged this particular type of photography was not for everyone, she urged those who could, to join Heartfelt to help families in their time of need.

“People who have digital image editing skills can also help out, because photographers can be (pressed for time),” she said, adding Heartfelt’s annual membership fee was $50.

“I want to stop hearing people say ‘I wish I had known about Heartfelt when…’ because by getting word out about this organisation, people will know about us and what we do.”

Ms Everard, who is also involved in Make A Wish Foundation, said she hoped to organise a fundraising event for Heartfelt in the near future.

To get in touch with a local Heartfelt photographer, phone Heartfelt Australia on 1800 583 768 or Carolyn Everard directly on 0423 451 043.