Families in Delaware who otherwise may not be able to afford family photos this holiday season will have the opportunity to preserve a joyous moment in time thanks to the efforts of The Christmas Studio.
The nonprofit organization will host a free shoot on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Gather, which is located at 53 N. Sandusky St. From 1-5 p.m., the event will be open to all families who wish to have their photos taken. Two slots will be available every 15 minutes, which should allow for upwards of 40 families to be photographed.
The studio was founded by current Delaware resident Leah Montgomery in 2019 in Lynchburg, Virginia. Montgomery has extensive experience as both a professional photographer, including serving as a staff photographer for Liberty University and the University of Maryland, and with freelance work.
Montgomery said she was traveling in an airport one day when she began to wonder how she could use the artistic gifts she’s been blessed with to serve other people.
“Family photos are such an important, valuable thing,” Montgomery told The Gazette. “A few years ago, I got to photograph a family who two weeks later found out the dad had kidney failure. Situations like that and realizing that in the world that I am in, family photos are very normal, but to a lot of people, they’re not always accessible. So how can we create the opportunity to make it accessible and free for families and make them feel pampered during it, too.”
During the shoots, families will be provided with food and coffee, as well as access to makeup and hair artists. There is also a DJ at each event to add to the festive environment.
“It’s not just showing up and getting your picture taken and then leaving. We make sure it’s an entire experience,” Montgomery said.
The Delaware event will be one of three this season, joining events in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Athens, Georgia. Montgomery hopes to continue to expand the program across the country, as well as to host events during more than one season in the various locations. She said nine events were planned in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic wrecked those plans.
Already passionate about the value of having family photos, Montgomery’s passion was heightened when she lost her mother to ALS in May. For everyone who has or will lose a loved one, photographs will be all that’s left one day, she said.
“I think the importance is you’re capturing memories and joy for families, especially in situations with families who wouldn’t typically have that opportunity available to them. … I just believe it’s important to offer that, for them to be able to look back on quality photos, and also to just remember the joy and experience of where you got those done at.
“For myself, looking back and seeing photos, that’s all we have now. I know in opportunities like that, you don’t always want to think about the potential of losing a loved one, but photos and memories are passed down through families, and I just feel like it’s something that brings joy to a lot of people.”
To learn more about the studio or to register for a session, visit www.christmasstudio.org.