Local photographer, stylists offer free graduation photos for students in need

Graduation season is supposed to be a time of achievement and celebration. Unfortunately, the celebration and pictures can be so expensive that some can’t afford the lifetime memories.

Fox 29’s Bill Anderson spoke to a group of business leaders who decided they would donate their time to help those who just can’t afford the festivities.

One day, photographer Richard Wah saw kids waiting for graduation alone at the bus stop, then riding the bus. The sight of their dedication moved him, and he posted on Facebook that he wanted to help.  For once, something positive went viral. Richard explained it this way:

“Imagine being the teen who works hard, who stays out of trouble, you get your education, and when it’s time to celebrate your graduation, you just can’t afford it.”

“To see people who don’t have the money for something as simple as graduation pictures, I wanted to jump in. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, how it could be done but once I put the word out all my friends jumped on board.”

Barber Shid Burwell saw value in Richard’s philanthropy.

“Always try to give back,” Shid explained. “That’s just in life.  Always try to give back.  It comes full circle.”

“There’s so many different avenues out there to help the public, feed the homeless and everything else,” Richard said.  “We don’t know where we fit in with that, but we do know we can take pictures we can dress the kids up.”

After seeing his post, barbers, makeup artists and stylists started volunteering.  To some, photographing students who may not be able to afford it may seem unnecessary. But to everyone involved, it’s bigger than that.

“It was that one picture of the kid on the bus with his cap and gown that really got me,” Shid explained. “That kinda touched me.”

“I think we need to celebrate the kids who are working hard, going to school, doing what they need to do to get good grades,” makeup artist Tammi Toliver told Fox 29. “We need to show them that we’re here, and we support them.”

If the message was to let teens know that they are supported, then it seemed to work.

“I feel so grateful that they’re doing this,” student D’Naya Hinton told Fox 29. “Not that many people have the type of heart where they want to put out so much to give back.”

Richard insisted that he prefers to stay behind the camera, but in this case he’s glad the post spread, even if it wasn’t his intent.

“I’m glad that it’s out there for everyone to see,” Richard said. “That there is help. We are here to help.”

Yet another positive example of using social media to give back, with no ego involved. The team actually hopes others run with their idea.

“It’s not a thing where we’d say ‘This is ours, you can’t be part of it,’ stylist Philip Robinson explained. “Whoever wants to help: if you find it in your heart to give back to some families, by all means do it.”

There are still spaces available for the graduation photo shoot that will take place June 18. For more information, and to sign up for pictures, contact Richard Wah at RWahPhoto@Yahoo.com.

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