I have been honoured to work closely with a charity Rays of Sunshine which grants wishes to terminally ill children and those with severe disabilities for a number of years. I recently helped on a wish with a charming young man named Lewis who had asked to be accompanied by a professional photographer to learn how to photograph wildlife, specifically his favourie animal giraffes. Despite the slightly cold temperatures, we therefore took him, with the wonderful staff from Keech House Hospice, to Whipsnade Wildlife Park just north of London which is a drive through safari and allows you to get very close to many different animals.
To start the day and to Lewis' total surprise, we presented him with a DSLR camera. The look of surprise and joy on his face was priceless and it was extremely fulfilling seeing how happy the gift had made him. I then preceded to show him how to use his new camera, demonstrating the various settings and explaining the fundamentals of digital photography before we set off to photograph some wildlife in the field.
Of course, we headed straight to the giraffe enclosure (no surprises there!) where the surprises kept on coming. Lewis to his amazement was told that he had adopted one of the giraffes and presented with a certificate. We then spent a lot of time photographing that giraffe to his delight as I continued to help him make better pictures through talking him through framing and compositional techniques. We then continued around the park photographing everything from hippos to rhinos to lions before heading back to the cafe for a much needed warm up and to review the photographs taken and buy Lewis some gifts from the zoo store.
It is Lewis' dream to one day produce an exhibition of his work. Indeed, who knows one day I could be there as the person who provided him with his first camera and contributed in some way to help his dream come true!