By: Trish Adkins
Steve volunteers his time photographing and fundraising for Flashes of Hope, a program of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) that provides professional portraits to children battling cancer.
The first time Steve Sattler shot for Flashes of Hope, a program of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation that creates free portraits for children fighting cancer, he was nervous. Steve was an experienced photographer, he first recieved a camera as a kid and never let it go even through his years working in marketing and sales. Once he retired, he took on photography in earnest, focusing his work on landscape and street photography. The one type of photography he avoided was portraits — taking photos of people was not in his wheelhouse.
And then Flashes of Hope called. They wanted Steve to join a few other photographers to do a shoot at a summer camp for kids with cancer.
It was way out of Steve’s comfort zone. But he did it anyway. “And it was the most rewarding experience for me,” said Steve.
Since then, Steve has done four sessions for Flashes of Hope at the summer camp, taking pictures of around 60 kids battling cancer. For each session, Steve would scout out locations at the camp and come prepared with squirt guns and hula hoops. He’d encourage the kids to sneak a squirt gun shot at the other photographers, listen to their stories about camp, and capture the joy and light in their eyes.
In 2017, Steve stopped by the summer camp to film the photographers and kids during the photoshoots. The video he produced shows the kids laughing, playing and enjoying summertime at camp during a photo session just for them. It also shows the photographers — who are not just shooting pictures, but who are connecting and playing with a group of extraordinary kids.
For families, these photography sessions give them invaluable memories of their child, capturing the kids outside of cancer treatment. “It’s always difficult to send your child away to camp. It’s even more difficult when your child has cancer. When we received the Flashes of Hope photos back, we saw in our child’s eyes how happy they were at camp,” said a parent of one of the campers.
Steve learned through his own work with Flashes, that the sessions gave him more than he could ever get snapping pictures for himself.
“People always thank me for doing what I do. And it’s like, no, no, no, I thank you for giving me a chance and making me feel good,” said Steve.
Steve has done more than volunteer his photography talents to Flashes of Hope. Through the Maryland Photography Alliance (MPA) he has also helped raise nearly $45,000 to support ALSF’s mission of funding research, family support services and the Flashes of Hope program. Steve is currently the president of the MPA, an organization of 26 independent photography clubs, that offers its members networking, education and comradery.
MPA raises money a variety of ways, including through its free monthly webinar series with nationally known photographers. Instead of charging a fee, at the end of each webinar a request is made for voluntary donations. They use the easy online fundraising pages to accept donations. All their generosity and efforts have added up to support for children with cancer and to community building for MPA.
“It's made the clubs feel so much better being a part of MPA because of this aspect of our organization. Because by design, everything we do, we try to think about how we can use it for fundraising,” said Steve.
Steve has a picture from one of his Flashes of Hope photoshoots in his home office.
“When I walk into my office, that photo reminds me of that special day,” said Steve. “And I have another photo in my mini studio, for the same reason.”
Brightening the lives of children with cancer through a national photography program, Flashes of Hope, a program of ALSF, captures images of courage, beauty, and dignity. The uplifting black and white portrait packages are keepsakes for families to honor the unique life and memory of their child. Flashes of Hope has partnered with over 82 pediatric hospitals and dozens of summer camps for children with cancer, presenting free photo packages to more than 88,377 children at hospitals and camps across the United States. Learn more and get involved here.