Photographer creates coffeetable book to benefit sick children

July 07, 2011|By CHRIS COPLEY |
  • Chris Heurich published a photo book, Kids of the Mid-Atlantic: Portraits of a Generation. The endeavor was a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic.
Submitted photo

On a sunny day in downtown Hagerstown, Chris Heurich sat down in a coffee shop to talk about his coffeetable book. But what he really wanted to do was enjoy life.

Heurich laughed a lot during the interview. He tuned and strummed a guitar. He soaked up sunshine.

"Every day's a gift," he said.

Heurich looks on the bright side, but he had a health scare. As he wrapped up a big photo-book project in October, he had to take medical leave. Now, months later, he's in the clear.

Heurich wanted to talk about the kids in his photo book, "Kids of the Mid-Atlantic: Portraits of a Generation." The large-format, glossy book features images of 60-plus children and teens, all photographed on location by Heurich. Some are close-ups, others set the subject in a scene — on a beach, in the woods, on a lawn.

"I really enjoyed the process," he said. "It was mostly photographed in Washington County. From here to Delaware to (Washington,) D.C. I wanted it to be mid-Atlantic. I wanted it named so that it represented the faces in the book."

Children are important to Heurich. His book was a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, which seeks to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Heurich said he collected donations for Make-A-Wish in two ways: He collected sitting fees for shooting the photos; these were donated. Then, after printing the books, all preordered, remaining proceeds were donated.

Heurich said he got the idea for the photo-book fundraiser from Tero Sade, a world-renown photographer with a studio in Tasmania, an island south of Australia. The book helps an organization with money and exposure. Families pay a fee for the sitting, and they get at least one image in the book.

Heurich's final product is a well-printed book with lush photos of many young people. And it's a nice piece for the photographer, too.

"I want (viewers) to have a sense of place and time," he said. "I want these images to speak."

Heurich said he designed the page layouts himself, and all design decisions were guided by the images he produced.

"Some kids have two or three or four photos," he said. "Some images stand on their own."

Heurich said he sold all copies of the book before it was printed; there are no more available.

The project finished in November, and now Heurich is back to his regular gig: photographing family and individual portraits.

Heurich loves shooting photos that bring his subjects to life. But the deeper story for Heurich is the simple joy of being alive. This is poignant for him, particularly in light of the 1997 death of his teenage daughter following a car crash.

Life is precious, Heurich said. And children are precious. So Heurich has a message for people with young people in their lives.

"Do your best to help your kids lead a productive life," he said. "Don't take your kids for granted."

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