Jennifer Jenison is a photographer in Akron, Ohio. My family met her in 2009 when she photographed our daughter’s first birthday party. I’ve seen some of the work she has done for NILMDTS and have realized how amazing it is to have an organization like that. A year ago I found out someone I went to High School with had a son who was stillborn. I know she got her own pictures, but I wished she would have known about NILMDTS. She is the reason I asked Jennifer to give me the following details. This is something we wish no one to ever need, but for everyone to know about to help those who do.
NILMDTS was started back in 2005 when a Mother found out her baby would not survive outside the womb. She had noticed photos along the hospital walls of babies and wanted to capture the same “essence” of her baby. Her husband got in contact with Sandy Puc and she later came to the hospital and photographed the family. Once word got out about what Sandy did, more requests started to come in, and between talks with Sandy and the Mother (Cheryl) they knew there was a great need for an organization like this. So they began their adventure together and created Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
There are 3 ways a photographer can volunteer:
Area Coordinator. An area coordinator is assigned to a hospital or two in their area. They are in charge of receiving phone calls from the hospital staff of when there is a family in need of photos. They gather pertinent info on the patient and family and then start making phone calls to the local photographers who volunteer to see whom can handle the session.
Photographer. The photographer who accepts taking on a session at the hospital gathers their camera gear, forms and prop items and heads to the hospital. NILMDTS provides a guide book in how to handle sessions in regards to posing, lighting, dealing with the families, required information from the family, etc. The photographer usually provides on average anywhere between 10-20 images on a CD, and sometimes provides a DVD slideshow of their images as well.
Digital Retouch Artist (DRA). A DRA is a person who volunteers their time in retouching the images submitted by photographers whom either do not have the time to edit within the time frame (4 weeks) or if the retouching services are beyond their skill. The DRAs are incredibly important to the organization as many are not able to handle the sessions at the hospital with the family but are extremely gifted with their photoshopping skills. And vice versa. Some photographers are gifted with being able to emotionally handle sessions that come our way but yet do not possess the strong technical part of retouching the photos.
The service of NILMDTS is completely FREE to all parents. Nothing is ever charged. All coordinators, photographers and DRAs do this on a volunteer basis and never ask for monetary compensation.
NILMDTS currently has approximately 7,000+ photographers serving worldwide.
If someone needs NILMDTS services, the person can log into the website at www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org and click on “Find a Photographer” and plug in the zip code in which the hospital is located. A list of the Area Coordinator(s) and all photographers nearby will appear. If an Area Coordinator is assigned to the hospital, its best to call them rather than each individual photographer. Saves alot of time and confusion in some instances.