Children with Cancer Use Cameras with Pablove Shutterbugs

June 8, 2015

Photographers are always looking for ways to capture the world as they see it. The way in which a photographer captures an image is a representation of emotion and how they see the world.

But what kinds of photos are created when the photographer knows they have an illness, unsure about the longevity of their life? For students in Randall Children’s Hospital’s photography class, that means creating memories that can be shared with their family and friends.

The program was sponsored by Randall Children’s Hospital and Newspace Center for Photography, and was funded through a grant from the Livestrong Foundation, the cancer foundation created by former professional cyclist, Lance Armstrong.

About three years ago, Alivia was diagnosed with acute lymphoid leukemia, a form of cancer that creates immature blood cells, causing internal problems with a person’s immune system.

“I had it for about two years, and I’ve been a survivor for around a year now,” Alivia said.

During her treatment, her doctors encouraged her to find therapeutic activities to participate in to help distract her from the day-to-day difficulties that result from recovery treatment.

Alivia, an avid photographer, decided to enroll in Pablove Shutterbug’s children’s photography class along with approximately 20 other students from Portland who are either undergoing cancer treatment, or who are survivors of cancer.

“Many of our patients with chemotherapy have hair loss, weight loss, or the loss of the function in a limb,” Dr. Nameeta Richard said. Richard was responsible for writing the grant that made the class possible.

Richards added that classes like these allow a child to engage with their peers.

“For a 6-year-old to be taking medicine three to four times a day, that’s completely different than what their friends are doing,” Richard said. “This program allows the students to express themselves and be a child, to remove the complications that chemotherapy places on them.”

Throughout five weeks, students met on Saturday mornings, where they were greeted by a group of volunteers, who met them with smiles on their faces, providing opportunities for the students to flex their children muscles and exercise their creative freedom.

Portland-based freelance photographer Peter Blanchard supervised the students as they worked with the cameras.  He has prior experience doing freelance photography for local health care facilities.

Blanchard gave instruction on framing, composition, documentary-style photography, portraiture and creativity. At the end of the five-week course, the students showcased their best photos in a public art showing.

Blanchard said he “really wanted to showcase the diverse amount of work that each student created.”

He added that the group of students was comprised of all styles of photographers, from artistic to documentarians.

Through community engagement, Blanchard hopes to continue this program well into the future.

He said he “feels allowing students to engage in activities they want to makes a lasting impact on the way they perceive the world.”

This article can be found originally on Oregon Public Broadcasting by and .

Through a grant provided by the Livestrong Foundation and in partnership with the Pablove Foundation’s Pablove Shutterbugs program, Randall Children’s Hospital was able to facilitate two five-week courses on photography, designed as a therapy program for children with cancer between six and 15 years old, either undergoing chemotherapy, or survivors of cancer.

Video Production: Alan Sylvestre and Kayo Lackey
Music Credits: “Nervano” by Chris Zabrinskie


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