I announced the very exciting news that I’m a Love Gives Way vendor a couple months ago, but I never went into detail about it. Because business has kept me quite busy (which is a huge blessing!), I am not as good about blogging as I’d like to be. While I’d love to share about my personal life, beliefs, business tips, etc., I normally use my time blogging to share photos from recent sessions and weddings I’ve photographed. But today I want to change it up a bit and talk about something that means a lot to me… something that I hope will change the face of my business in 2014 and the lives of many.
Have you seen red X’s on hands today? Or in profile photos on social media? Or seen the hashtag #enditmovement? That’s because today the End It Movement is calling for a “Shine a Light on Slavery Day.” And slavery is really what I’m writing this blog post about.
A couple years ago, I attended the annual Passion Conference at the Georgia Dome, where I learned for the first time just how big of an issue slavery still is in the world. An estimated 27 million people are enslaved around the world. 27 million, yet many of us aren’t even aware that slavery still exists. These people are trapped in brothels, factories, street corners, homes, and more. And while “around the world” sounds like a far-away problem, it is estimated that 5,000 women/girls are trafficked for sex in Atlanta each year. To hear that Atlanta, where I was born and raised, is the largest hub for sex trafficking in the U.S. was sickening to say the least. And the average age of girls sold into the sex industry is 11-14.
|A photo I took at the Passion Conference
As a wedding photographer, I obviously love capturing the moments that unfold during such a special day in two peoples’ lives. I aim to capture quick expressions and take photographs that bring people back to the true emotions of the day. But for me, being a wedding photographer is much more than showing up on a wedding day and taking photos. I aim to establish relationships with each of my couples, to offer them support through what can be a very stressful time of planning, and to let them know that I am there for them if they ever need me. Just last weekend I did a maternity session for a bride whose wedding I photographed 3 years ago. And for Christmas a couple months ago, I received numerous Christmas cards from past clients sharing about their lives. The amazing brides and grooms that I work with truly touch my heart, give me purpose, and become a kind of family to me. And having a purpose is what brings me to the heart of this blog…
This past November, an organization called Love Gives Way launched an incredible movement to rally the wedding industry against sex trafficking. Love Gives Way connects brides, wedding vendors, and non-profits to raise awareness and fight against sex trafficking around the world, and I feel incredibly blessed to have partnered with this organization that holds a purpose so dear to my heart. So how does it work? Any time a couple books a Love Gives Way vendor for their wedding, a percentage of the vendor’s profits go to a non-profit organization that fights sex trafficking. For this reason, Love Gives Way uses the slogan: “Let your one day affect her everyday.”
For 2014, I am partnering with Out Of Darkness, a non-profit that aims to reach, rescue, and restore all victims of sex trafficking. What I love about this organization is that it works around the clock, gives all the glory to God, and encourages community involvement through prayer – a powerful tool that we often overlook! Out Of Darkness does it all – from answering rescue calls, to actually rescuing women wherever and whenever, to keeping these women safe and ultimately getting them the proper help and services they need for restoration. So any time a bride books my Love Gives Way package, Out Of Darkness receives a portion of the proceeds.
Because I use my wedding photography to impact my clients’ lives, I encourage brides to use a day that they often hear is “all about them” and use it to help women in need around the world. “Let your one day affect her everyday.” We need to raise awareness and put a stop to the $32 billion slavery industry. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of this movement through Love Gives Way and use this year to make a difference in not only my clients’ lives, but also in the lives of those without freedom.
Carry the message on February 27th and Shine a Light on Slavery. Let’s put a stop to something that is happening in our own backyards.
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