“What’s a studio?” asked 7-year-old Tommy. He was adopted from China two years ago. “It’s a place where we’re going to have our picture taken,” responded a deeper voice, his dad’s, and hand in hand, they walked into a dimly lit photography studio and stepped up to a bright white backdrop.
This family of six was one of nearly a dozen who adopted children through WACAP and who joined us last month for a photoshoot at the Art Institute of Seattle.
For several years, WACAP has been privileged to partner with the Art Institute, whose professional student photographers and videographers have given their time and talent (at no cost) to photograph families built through adoption and provide them with a collection of wonderful images — many of which you’ve seen on WACAP’s website and as part of our outreach about adoption over the years.
Again this year, photographers captured the joy of family with a camera click. Behind the scenes, WACAP staff and volunteers witnessed the magic of each still image unfolding in real time. Moms smiled patiently when toddlers became camera shy. Dads swung sons and daughters over their shoulders, giggles ensuing. One young man motioned staff over, whispering, “Okay, I’ll do that thing you said [give mom a kiss on the cheek] … if you let me do the pose I want [a scary mummy pose].” Assisting the photographer team was one of WACAP’s volunteers, Tia, who turned big frowns into even larger smiles … at all hours and for all ages.
By the day’s end, the Art Institute students and staff had met children from six of WACAP’s adoption programs — US Kids, China, Ethiopia, Korea, Thailand, and India, ranging in age from 2 to 14 years old. They’d seen the amazing impact of family as children, parents, brothers and sisters stepped in front of a camera and with their smiles, told a story about how much they had grown together.
When 7-year-old Tommy entered the studio with his parents, he introduced his three older brothers, giving their names and ages, and adding with a contagious grin, “And I’m seven; my parents just got me!” When the conversation turned to the coming holidays, he listened intently while others talked about the gifts they hoped to give or receive, asking clarifying questions about each one … but in the end, announced to all, “Actually, um, the important thing to remember is to be thankful.” Several photographers and staff turned away from the brightness of the set to wipe aside a tear. No cameras could capture that moment … but the photographers caught the one just afterward, as the family stepped onto the set together.
Our thanks to the students of the Art Institute, the many families who participated, and to WACAP volunteer extraordinaire Tia Zweber, who helped make this day so memorable. Special thanks photographers Shayna Gosney, Marissa Morse, videographers and audio specialists Charles McDowell and Tuck Tongpattanakul, director Michael Ramey and all the members of the Art Institute team.