Street Dogs Cat Dahab Egypt Animal WelfareAnimal Welfare Dahab volunteers in Egypt

Travel continues to transform me, humble me and remind me of the gratitude I possess each and every day. But traveling also awakens me. Traveling to different parts of the world, that are often so different from my own, has woken me up to a way of life I didn’t know existed. In the western world, we are so lucky to have clean drinking water. To have a thick roof over our head, to eat…daily. And before traveling, I lived in a privileged bubble.

I may have grown up on food stamps, I may not have been able to attend college for 4 years because I didn’t have parents who could afford it….but I grew up in America. That alone is a blessing. And before traveling the world, I always believed I was poor, that I didn’t have ENOUGH. But sometimes seeing how others live in a place that is not your own is a chance for a gigantic slap-in-the-face, wake-up call. 

My Change in Desires and Values

If you’ve seen my blog post on meeting the kids of Egypt, I was immediately struck by how little the kids in a small village outside of Luxor had. In fact, what most of the kids and families in Egypt had. While I have traveled to Bali in the past, I have never visited anywhere in the world that was as developing as Egypt. And truth be told, Egypt is not as developing as many other parts of Africa and Asia – places I have not yet seen but hope to in the years to come. 

Meeting a Family in Egypt

While visiting a family’s humble home in this village, the mother kept pointing and speaking in Arabic about a portrait of her husband on the wall. On this modest wall was a beautiful portrait of a man. Her son translated to us how deeply she loved this picture of him, how she cherished it. Her wide smile was evidence of that.

It was then that I realized that photography and documenting the relationships between families through portraiture has no boundaries. I learned that a portrait can stay with us in our hearts long after the person is gone. In that moment, I wished I could stay longer. I wished I could gift them a portrait session of their entire family and then print all the pictures and gift them more tangible wall art pieces for her to admire, for her children and their children to cherish long after she was gone. Instead, I gave her the rest of my 10 Egyptian dollars. But I so wished I could give her something tangible. That she and her grandchildren would remember years and years later…

Meeting the Street Animals in Egypt

When I was living in Dahab, a small diving town near the Red Sea, I witnessed much sadistic cruelty towards the dogs and cats of this town. I cried night after night, wishing to leave, wishing to tell the kids in the town that taking a knife to a puppy’s paw would help nothing. I still have flashbacks of what I’d experienced in Egypt often, and while my personal donations can go a long way in a street dog’s life, I want to do more. I want to do more. I want to do more. 

Egypt has long stayed with me in the year following our honeymoon, and I have recognized over the past year how important it is for my spirit to contribute.

How I Hope to Contribute More

Giving generously – my money, my time, kind words, the love in my heart – is something I have noticed rise and form strongly in my spirit’s desires over the last year. Every time I go inward, I feel deep down that I need to share. Every time I meditate and write to my inner voice, I am being asked to give. 

While I’ve donated money to Animal Welfare Dahab and a few other animal rights organizations in Egypt and Bali since traveling, I feel urgently called to give more, to do more, to volunteer more, and to share more. I have received some much abundance – not just financially – over the last few years, and it’s now time to give just as much as I receive.

One of my most important values is to contribute, and starting in 2020, I am launching my studio’s new pricing model, to not only cater to clients who value wall art and a more custom high-end studio experience, but to allow enough funds for my studio to contribute a large portion of funds to these organizations I care deeply about on an annual basis. 

Price Changes Begin in 2020

Simplicity Session

Starting in 2020, my simplicity sessions will increase to 625.00 for a 25-minute session.  These short ‘n sweet family sessions can be held at one of my 3 chosen (and personal favorite) locations. It includes 25 minutes of session time with me along with 15-18 hand-edited and retouched digital files for clients to save, print, share online and archive. 

Signature Session

My more custom option, the Signature Session, is perfect for those families who would like the experience of a truly custom and high-end portraiture experience. These sessions are great for families who would like more variety in posing and locations.

These custom sessions will include a session fee of 350.00 for the session time with me.  The session fee includes 45+ artistically edited images uploaded to a gallery. The session fee does not include any digital images or products as they must be purchased through one of the 5 collections here. Digital files and products will begin at 950.00.  

What does this session include?

Includes 60 minutes of quality session time and 45+ edited, retouched digital files, 2 locations of your choice and the option to have your session be more personal – in the comforts of your home and/or yard. Our Signature Session also includes an online viewing session with Helena where you choose from one of our 5 product collections.

Studio Charitable Donations

  • 10% of our studio’s revenue will be donated. That’s right – 10% of the total revenue.
  • 5% will be given towards a non-profit that caters towards women, whether that be a women’s shelter or an organization that helps single moms and children.
  • 5% will be donated to animal welfare non-profit groups, including Animal Welfare Dahab and BAWA in Bali – places I have witnessed and volunteered with.

Children, mothers, and animals (specifically street dogs/cats and animals that are exploited in tourism) is where my heart lies, and where my focus will be. Since last July, I have been feeling a deep desire to pursue working with organizations I care about and giving more. 

I’d Love to Hear From You

With the new changes taking place next year, I still have much to learn as I gather a list of charities to add to the studio’s end-of-year donation list.  I only know of a handful of non-profits and would love some insight!

Please comment below links to charities or organizations that you personally like, and I will be sure to do some research! 

2019 families

Our studio is only offering Simplicity Sessions this year, as our product line will be unveiling next Spring. If you have booked a session with our studio this year, don’t worry – our sessions are still at my usual price of 350.00 for 30 minutes of session time! 

-Helena

The Importance of Giving Back and How the Studio is Changing in 2020

March 19, 2019

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2016 - 2019 Helena Woods | Helena Woods Portraiture is located outside New York City in Fairfield County Connecticut and travels worldwide for her clients. Helena Woods is Connecticut’s premier family, children, baby and newborn photographer specializing in modern classic custom family photography with a timeless look that's always in style. As a professional photographer, Helena captures maternity, newborn, baby and family portraits in NYC, Westchester, Trumbull, Easton, Weston, and Westport, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norfolk and all Fairfield County surrounding areas.