Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sitting at home with the wife and kids for a quiet New Year's Eve. This is the first New Year's Eve I've been able to spend with the family in three years because of weddings. It's fun to watch the kids eye lids bobbing up and down as they struggle to stay awake. I had a nice wedding yesterday of Carol Munger and Phil LaMarche. It was a nice winter wedding in need of some snow. Here are some images from the wedding.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah or whatever brings you peace and joy this magical time of year. May the new year bring you the ability to attain all that you dream of.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

The article below ran in last Sunday's Daily Messenger, written beautifully by Anne Johnston.

I got my first call today to photograph still born twins that were a mere 17 week gestation. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. When I first received the call, I could feel the color drain from my face. I knew I would get it someday, but I wasn't prepared for it to be so soon, especially with Christmas on everyone's mind. Unfortunately, fate does not take off for the holidays. Christmas was far from the minds of the young couple whose lives were forever altered by the loss of their two unborn children. They were twins, a mere 17 weeks along in the womb.
I immediately went on to the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographers forum to get some advice on how to proceed. The forum is a wealth of information for anyone looking understand more about this phenominal organization. The website is

When I arrived at the hospital, Chris, the maternity nurse was extremely helpful and sensitive. She understood that this being my first shoot, it was nerve racking.
We started in a room without the parents with the twins. They were so small, just 5oz's each. It was very surreal to see these tiny lifeless bodies, that not so long ago were thriving in their mother's womb. The full emotional impact of the situation didn't arise however until the parents came into the room to be photographed with the twins. The sense of loss on their faces was unimagineable. Having two healthy kids, I can not even begin to understand what they are going through.

From Daily Messenger 12/17/06

Photographers provide 'something to hold on to'

Messenger Post Staff
Posted: Dec 17, 06:00 AM EST
Portraits are offered, free of charge, to parents of children who die in infancy.
CANANDAIGUA, NY — Without exception, everyone Steve Chesler tells about his newest venture is taken aback.
Repelled, actually, might be a better word for the reaction the Canandaigua photographer gets.
Chesler himself had a strong reaction when he first heard about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a Colorado-based non-profit organization that attempts to help parents who lose babies in early infancy. Free of charge, photographers volunteer their time to provide families with portraits of their children. Often taken in hospitals — just before and/or just after life support is removed — the portraits are meant to help the parents remember their child and continue, for years to come, to acknowledge his or her brief life.
For Chesler, the premise stirred up many emotions at once.
“How could (photographers) do that, and how could they not?” he said. “It’s giving the family something to hold on to and cherish for the rest of their lives.”
The organization was founded after a couple named Cheryl and Mike Haggard made the decision to take their 6-day-old son, Maddux, off life support on Feb. 10, 2005. Mike Haggard called Expressions Photography because he had seen owner Sandy Puc’s portraits of babies displayed at the Denver hospital. Puc and her staff accommodated the Haggards’ request for photographs of Maddux and also provided a DVD, set to music.
Afterward, Cheryl Haggard joined Puc in co-founding Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.
Now its regional coordinator, Chesler first learned of the organization at the annual conference of Wedding and Portrait Photographers International earlier this year in Las Vegas. “What piqued my interest was the brochure they had — how tasteful it looked. And it was an idea I’d never thought of,” he said.
Once other people see the photographs that are taken through the non-profit, he added, they are not quite as uneasy about the idea.
“Almost everybody I’ve tried to explain it to didn’t understand it. Anybody I’ve shown the Web site to, did,” he said.
Still, Chesler admitted, “it’s a touchy subject. It’s all about somebody’s personal interpretation of it.”
A Long Island native and former Daily Messenger photographer who has owned his own studio for almost eight years, Chesler is the father of an 8-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. He and his wife have never experienced the loss of a child, but he can empathize.
“The second that baby comes out and you hear that cry, it’s life-changing,” he said, adding that if a baby lives only a short time — and even if a baby is stillborn — that child is forever a member of the family. “That’s a huge loss that is incomprehensible,” he said.
Chesler recently contacted Thompson Hospital to make officials there aware of the service he is offering. He also plans on contacting other hospitals serving the Finger Lakes.
Amanda Padgham, a Farmington-based photographer, has done the same. She is involved not only with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep but with a similar initiative by the American Child Photographers Charity Guild.
In addition to being a photographer, Padgham is a pediatric nurse and a mother of two. She has helped a couple of families, including one in Batavia that was told — prior to the birth — that one of their twin girls had a chromosomal abnormality and would not survive long. The baby lived three weeks.
It was a difficult job, Padgham said, but she feels blessed to have two healthy kids and wants to give back.
“I think it’s important that there are people who will be there for the families and, as uncomfortable as it is, give them something they can remember,” she said.
As of yet, Chesler has not taken any pictures for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. “It’s an honor to be able to offer this service, but I’m not looking forward to it,” said Chesler, who has helped other photographers affiliated with the organization digitally touch up their photos of infants.
The photographers have an online forum, Chesler noted, where they can not only exchange technical advice and tips on tasteful presentation of their subjects but offer emotional support. “We’re all there for each other,” he said.
For more information, visit or www.acpcg. com.
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