“A Past Cover Shoot”

1415446_535520679873125_1064852610_oThis tear sheet is from a cover shoot I did for Gainesville Today Magazine. As the photo editor and chief photographer for the magazine(from 2012-2014), I always aimed to make the magazine the fashion magazine in Gainesville. I was charged with making a picture book for adults. Every cover was fashion driven. Models and wardrobes were always picked very purposefully. The styling, photography, and design had to be unique but cohesive. Cover shoots in a sense were highly focused portrait photography sessions. 

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A Snapshot of GiGi’s Playhouse Benefit Gala

As expected, the Board of GiGi’s Playhouse Gainesville and the many volunteers and sponsors put together a fantastic inaugural fundraising event last Saturday. In the spirit of World Down Syndrome Day, the Believe in the Build Benefit Gala aimed to breakdown stigmas associated with the disorder and unify supporters for establishing the first playhouse in North Central Florida. Through free educational, social, and therapeutic programs, the center will instill self-confidence in children and adults with Down syndrome. Judging from the high turnout and success of the event, there is no doubt that Gigi’s Playhouse made a statement that they are here to stay.

As the official event photographer, I wanted to make sure I captured every moment. Elegant, yet family friendly decor by Keith Watson productions cohesively flowed from the lobby and atrium area to the ballroom of Emerson Hall. Parents and their children arrived dressed in eveningwear. Live music and a DJ got everyone onto the dance floor. Even the food by Cacciatore Catering was Intsa-worthy. The night was perfectly crafted for both adults and kids to have a great time.

Speakers including GiGi’s Playhouse Gainesville President Mika, Vice President Lilly Bell, and Board member Troy Bell all spoke passionately and sincerely about their goals, hopes, and dedications to see their campaign to fruition.

It was especially wonderful to have The Gianni family in town for this Gala. Nancy and GiGi Gianni, the founder and inspiration for Gigi’s Playhouse, shared their incredible story of strength during their keynote address. They also gave their confidence in the Gainesville Board of GiGi’s Playhouse and the community, proclaiming that they “planted an important seed”.

Lily Bell, Vice President of Gigi’s Playhouse Gainesville, says their task is to continue to nurture that seed. The committee says they have already started making plans for next year’s gala and are now one-step closer to establishing a permanent location by June.

I feel a strong responsibility to donate my time and talents to raise awareness for such an astounding and noble cause. The photos of the event will tell a story from the night and help spread awareness of the group’s efforts to establish a playhouse in town and the significant impact it will have on individuals and families affected by down syndrome in all of North Central Florida.

The children and families are able to take part of all of the resources the centers offer free of charge. This is truly a charitable and benevolent work. And it takes a community to establish a center in their area and city. Down Syndrome is a barrier that affects many. I think the center will prove to be a great resource to the children and families in the Gainesville Area that would not go unnoticed by the community.

Gigi’s Playhouse Benefit Gala Tonight!

Pictures spread ideas. The idea of Gigi’s Playhouse is to empower children and adults affected by Down syndrome with the tools to maximize their potential and realize their own self-worth. When approached to volunteer my photography services at the organizations’ principal fundraiser, I could not think of a better way to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.

In the final months of their journey to establish the second playhouse in the state, the organization hosts The Believe in the Build Benefit fundraiser gala tonight at Emerson Alumni Hall. The gala will feature dinner, dancing, and a silent and live auction for items such as a 5-day getaway to Cancun. Yours truly will also be documenting the entire event. You will not want to miss special guest Nancy and GiGi Gianni, the founder and inspiration for Gigi’s Playhouse, as keynote speakers.

Organization leaders and volunteers have worked tirelessly for the past year to make Gigi’s Playhouse a permanent haven for individuals with Down syndrome and their families in North Central Florida. Hoping to finally open their door this June, Gigi’s Playhouse will provide free educational, social, and therapeutic programs designed to build confidence in those with Down syndrome of all ages.

I have previously been involved with Gigi’s Playhouse marketing efforts by taking the staff group photos and individual headshots of the board members.

I hope that documenting the gala will help spread Gigi’s powerful message within our community and inspire future involvement with volunteers, sponsors, donors and other families impacted. Therefore, come dance the night away and pose for me on the red carpet tonight at Emerson Alumni Hall to support such a positive change in our community. Door open at 7 pm. For event details, tickets and more please visit http://gigisplayhouse.org/gala-gainesville.