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5,400 photos = 54,000 words ?

October 29, 2009

This year is the first year I did not walk in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  Instead, I participated as a crew member – one of the event photographers at the Boston, New York and Charlotte walks.  It was a truly awesome experience.  For each event, I was given a sign for my truck windshield which read “Press”  and a button to wear reading “Photo Crew”.  As I walked around, I asked people to smile while I took their pictures.  There wasn’t a single person who said, “No”.  Most people were more than happy to mug for the camera, others smiled shyly.

DSC_5794My favorite subjects are people who came out to cheer for the walkers.  These people take time out of their day on either Saturday or Sunday to stand along the route and encourage the walkers.  Some bring homemade signs.  Others wear pink and wave pompoms.  Some even dress up their dogs with a pink bow.  In each city, there are impromptu cheering stations along the walk route.

The group in this photo were from a local radiology center in Charlotte.  Seven of the eight people were dressed in pink and one was in white representing the one in eight people who are diagnosed with breast cancer.

I was able to view the walk from a different perspective this year.  In the past, when I walked the route, I saw the backs of the walkers ahead of me.  Many walkers wear signs on their backs which explain why they walk.  It might be for a mother who has passed away from breast cancer, a friend who is a survivor, or for themselves.  One time I was behind a guy who was pushing a stroller with a young child.  On his back was a sign which included a woman’s picture and the words “For my wife, I miss you” and the birth and death years.  That is one of the most poignant  memories I have of the walk.

boston_survAt each of the closing ceremonies,  I had the opportunity to be up on stage to photograph the crowd.  It is really fascinating to watch the play of emotions across the faces of the people.  They are all smiles as they stride into the barricaded area in front of the stage.  First the walkers come in on the left and right sides.  Then, the survivors wearing their light pink t-shirts and waving white pompoms come in.  They are followed by the youth crew in their yellow sweatshirts.  Behind them comes the crew members in their blue crew shirts and costumes.  Many of the rest stop crews choose themes for their stops and dress up accordingly.

During the speeches, the crowd becomes subdued, listening to the personal story of one of the walkers.  A video is shown, during which many of the people start to cry as they are reminded of loved ones who have been touched by cancer. Finally, the crowd comes together, clasping hands and cheering as they celebrate their accomplishments of raising awareness, money and completing the walk.

Over the 3 walks this year, I took 5,400 photos!  Quite amazing, if you ask me.  I have posted them on my Flickr account.  Some of the photos made it to the AvonWalk.org website:  Boston, New York, and Charlotte (my photos have the file name DSC_xxxx).  In addition, at the NY walk, I had the opportunity to take photos of guest speaker Suze Orman with the beneficiaries.

Two of my photos were choose to be part of the press release issued by Avon.  My photos are of Suze Orman and the crowd.  The press release was picked up by Newcom.com including the crowd shot!  Which I think makes me a published photographer, except that I did not receive photo credit :-(.

Next year, I hope to be able to reprise my role of photographer, and I plan to walk at least one of the events.

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