Monday, September 28, 2015

Get the Job Done: Photoshoot Virtual Auction to Benefit Efrain Cruz

Picture Your World Photography will be hosting a Photoshoot Virtual Auction to raise health care funds for Efrain Cruz, my very first photography instructor who is fighting cancer.

To help support this effort, I will be auctioning off a full hour long photography session (retail value $300). You get the whole shebang: 15 edited high resolution digital images, a personalized session with my favorite makeup and hair artist and a release form to have your images printed at any lab of your choosing.

Just leave your highest bid in the comments on my blog here or under the post I'm going to copy and paste on my business Facebook page.

The bid will open at $50.

I want to share a personal plea to help me save the man who saved my life, even though I don't think he knew that's what he was doing at the time.

After my mother's sudden death in 2005 at the tender age of 48, I was still reeling, still needing something to get me out of bed, still searching for a reason that would keep me here when all I wanted to do was end my life so I could be with her. In therapy, my counselor taught me about a depression coping technique called "mastering a skill-set." Basically when we learn something new and find out we are good at it, it improves our  confidence and self-esteem while at the same time lessening our depression. I had always wanted to take a photography class, so I bit the bullet, bought a $1,000 digital camera and took an Intro to Digital Photography Class at the now defunct Denver Darkroom.

Efrain was my teacher. I was new and I was scared, so scared I actually went to the class with my camera still tucked away safe and sound in it's box. I mean, really...a $1,000 camera??? That was the greatest luxury item I had ever purchased for myself that wasn't a car or house payment. What, was I crazy! I didn't want to break it!

Efrain talked me through the dicey prospects of removing the camera, a Canon Rebel XTI, opening from the security of its bubble wrap. He didn't laugh at me when all the other students in class kept giving me side eye. When those students would talk to Efrain about concepts like aperture and ISO and shutter speed and depth of view, it was as if they were speaking Greek. It was clear that while they might have been new to digital photography, they weren't new to the craft itself, like I was.

A week later when I thought about quitting the class because I just wasn't getting the concepts, it was Efrain who told me this: "Stay. Don't leave. You have a gift, a natural eye. I promise you if you give me the next month, these techniques will literally click for you. It will all make sense."

I his class. And I stayed alive.

I remember taking my first few prints of flowers, and trees and clouds to my group cognitive therapy class and showing the other attendees the images I had created. Look! I did this! Suddenly, the irrational thoughts of suicide that had been haunting me were slowly being replaced with wonder and awe of a new technology, a HARD technology, that I seemed to be actually getting.

Efrain was right! After just a month of attending his class (and getting some side help from photographers at The Denver Post!) I was shooting just as well as the other students. When I was brave enough to get underneath a car with my Rebel XTI and shoot the nooks and crannies of my muffler and front and back differentials, I shocked the hell out of Efrain and the students who so intimidated me before shared in my success.

When Efrain had a conflict and wasn't able to shoot a paid special event assignment, he sent out an email to his students asking if anyone could take over for him. I was the only student who replied back: I can do it.

I got my first job as the event photographer at an awards ceremony for the Denver Women's League of Voters. It was history in the making, my new history that changed the course of my life. I started  taking on more and more paid assignments until I had the courage to start my company Picture Your World Photography. Efrain, my company was nominated for a City of Aurora "Best of the Best" small business award last month. That happened because you believed in me, pushed me to continue.

We have all had those teachers in our lives who directed us, challenged us to do things we didn't think we could, who saw things within us that we weren't able to see ourselves. Efrain was one of those teachers for me. Help him now, if you can, by donating whatever you can to honor not only him, but every earthly bound guardian angel who took the time to take interest in you, to believe in you when no one else would.

Thank you Efrain! We love you, and you are not alone in this fight.


Unknown said...

Your story brought me to tears. I'm so proud of you and Ef.

PictureYourWorld said...

Thank you so much for leaving this comment. I've been holding back tears all morning. Can't do that anymore after reading your comment. Thank you, thank you so much!

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