Even though Stephanie Smith is a busy woman, being a mother and office manager, she’s taken on another role– as a photographer, with a special mission: to bless the families of special needs children. But not everyone in the industry feels the same compassion.
VIDEOS BY INSPIRE MORE
It all started when a family was turned down by a professional photographer, after the photographer heard their daughter had Down Syndrome. When news of the story reached Stephanie, she was inspired to help their family and others who had experienced similar discrimination. She started offering her photography skills to families with special needs children for free.
“I put it out on Facebook that I was willing to donate special needs photo shoots,” she said in an interview with 9news, “and the amount of people that reached out to me was completely insane.â€
Stephanie’s decision to offer her skills for free is also due to the amazing kindness shown to her family after her sister became sick. Her sister became disabled after suffering paralysis from the waist down and being diagnosed with cancer twice. After her sister’s story went viral, sympathetic supporters raised $450,000 in donations to help cover her growing medical costs.
Now Stephanie is paying it forward. “I just felt like I have to lend my hand out to people in need, because we were in need.”
Stephanie’s latest photoshoot was with a boy named Charlie (above). “[Charlie] was my shoot this weekend and, by far, the most emotional.” When asked why, she explained, “Charlie’s session has been the most emotional for me since he has been the first child that couldn’t interact with me. But every child has been life changing, in their own way.”
We also had the chance to talk to Stephanie about her plans for the future. She’s already photographed 17 families and started a Facebook page, Lenses for Love, where she is sharing these childrens’ stories and encouraging other photographers to do the same.
“Lenses for Love is going to be my foundation and platform to connect photographers from all over the world with the special needs families in their communities,” Stephanie told us. “I am only one person and I can’t reach every single family that is inquiring, and I am hoping through my community page and upcoming website, it will build those grounds.”
Someone has also set up a GoFundMe for Stephanie and Lenses of Love. Contributions will go towards Stephanie’s dream of opening a studio for “children that can’t be outside or aren’t comfortable outside” so that there are no barriers preventing her from blessing others.
“Ultimately,” said Stephanie, “I want the spotlight on them. I want their stories out there.” And Stephanie has stayed true to her goal of loving these children. Her emotional connection is so strong to their stories, that she only charges their families one thing: a picture of her with each child.
We love this woman’s big heart!
Share Stephanie’s heartwarming story– and these precious children’s faces.
Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.