Photo Marathon '07 is here!!

Well, if there's one bride I know who will forgive me for hijacking her wedding story with a fundraising plea, it's Lisa Butenhoff. Why? Because Lisa works for one of the truly great Washington charitable organizations, Food and Friends, a non-profit that has been serving meals to people with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses for almost twenty years.

I know a lot about the great work that Food and Friends does. For many years I rode my bicycle alongside thousands of others in order to help Food and Friends provide their services. Starting with a Philadelphia to Washington three-day ride in 1996, I pedaled thousands of miles over the years to help Food and Friends and organizations just like it. In the end, I did three Raleigh/Durham-Washington rides and three New York/Boston rides in six years. And in the process I got to know lots of folks from Food and Friends, the greatest of whom is Craig Shniderman, the organization's director. Craig is not the kind of guy who lets thousands of people ride hundreds of miles without breaking a sweat himself. On the contrary, Craig rode the same 275 miles in three days that the rest of us rode. And always with a smile.

When Lisa told me where she worked many months ago, I knew we would click. She and her husband, Derek Bandera, had a wonderful wedding last week, on yet another glorious weather weekend (unless, that is, you ask my dying front lawn) without rain. This drought we're suffering through here is terrible for a lot of reasons, but as for wedding photography, I can't exactly argue.

Like so many of my brides, Lisa is the kind of person who just radiates laughter and warmth. She could be addressing envelopes or taking out the trash and she'd still be smiling. Couple that personality with the organization she works for--nine million meals served to over 13,000 clients in the past 19 years--and you feel somewhat humbled.

That's why I say that Lisa would be the last person to object to me using her "space" here to talk about our own fundraising day, Photo Marathon. We may not have the organizational power of Food and Friends, but our hearts are in the same place.

So let's go to the point: Photo Marathon is here! Starting this Sunday, 9/30 at 9:00 a.m., I'll be shooting portraits all day, nonstop. Every individual or family coming to Photo Marathon will be asked to donate $250 directly to the college funds of the children of Capt. Brian Freeman and/or Capt. Christopher Petty. In return for your kindness, you'll receive a signed and dated 11 x 14 print.

A word about our beneficiaries: These two brave men were both killed in Iraq, roughly one year apart, and neither was content to simply do his job adequately. Both men went above and beyond their mission. Capt. Freeman spent months and months trying to secure a visa for an Iraqi boy in need of heart surgery in the U.S. The day that visa was finally approved, Capt. Freeman was killed. Similarly, Capt. Petty was involved in a school rebuilding project when he was killed.

These two men left four young children behind. As I said last week, we're going to honor their efforts to help children in faraway lands by helping their own children back here in America.

To read more about Capt. Freeman, go here.

To read more about Capt. Petty, go here.

So please drop on by this Sunday. You don't need a time slot--we're just going to go as fast as we can! And if you can't come by, please consider making a donation anyway. Mail a check made payable to either the Brian Freeman Memorial Fund or the Oliver and Owen Petty College Fund and mail it to me at 3823 N. Chesterbrook Road, Arlington, Virginia, 22207.

For those of you who are planning on participating, a few reminders:

Photo Marathon is a charity event, first and foremost. This is NOT a replacement for a full-blown portrait session with me. Think of it more as an opportunity to help four young children with a cool souvenir attached. As we've done in the past, we'll shoot portraits as fast as possible to accommodate everyone. This is a speed-a-thon for a great cause. Please don't come with special requests!!

Also, please remember to leave the ties and jackets at home. This should be a relaxed portrait, not a stuffy one. Dark colors work better bright whites and solids much better than busy patterns. And finally, please limit the number of people in one portrait to around four. We'll give you instructions on which fund to write your check (we'll simply alternate) and how to get your print. (We'll schedule a pick up date sometime next month. If you want your print mailed, please bring $6 to cover shipping.)

Other than that, come on down. Bring your dog, bring your boyfriend, bring the kids. I'll shoot anything!

The studio is located at 600 Madison Street in Old Town Alexandria (22314), coveniently above the Royal Restaurant. Look for the black door on the side of the building.

Thanks in advance for helping out.


Matt

p.s. We're not big enough to have sponsors, but I do want to thank some folks for their kindness:

Sam at Alpha Fotoworks, our lab in California, who has generously donated printing services. Michelle and Jeff at Lexar Media, for sending extra memory cards. Anne Bell, my old friend from way back in the UPI days, for helping with guest books and food. To Jodi Macklin, whose donation check came the day after I posted about Photo Marathon last week, setting a record for generosity. To our parents, Jay and Marlene Mendelsohn and Joan Vastardis and Dudley New for their geneorus contributions. And the usual suspects, who always stand ready to help, year after year: Laura Gonzalez, Julie Newell, Bill Auth, Dan Boston, Melissa Bonier, Tony Fletcher, Kate Karafotas. And most of all, to my wife, Maya, who not only helps with all of the processing for Photo Marathon but puts up with me during these crazy times.

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