As founder of the Oldham Project, Terri Shaver found a way to give back using her skill of photography. This non-profit organization provides free portrait sessions for those suffering from life-threatening illnesses, and the two current projects help women and children in the community feel better about their lives.
Q: HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH THE OLDHAM PROJECT? A: I’m a photographer, and I wanted to find a way to give back to the community. My brother’s wife lost both of her sisters. After that, I decided I needed to find a way to give back based on my photography skills. The Oldham Project was born that way, and it is a recognized non-profit organization. We have different projects within that including Be Bold, Be Brave, Feel Beautiful and Courageous Kids. These allow us to reach out to different groups in the community, and I’m sure we’ll develop more programs along the way.
Q: HOW HAVE THE PORTRAITS BEEN BENEFICIAL? A: For women, they have found our Be Bold project to be extremely liberating. They have found it empowering because women are appearance-based people. A woman is at her absolute low when diagnosed with cancer and loses her hair. We’ve given them a vehicle for getting their self-image back. Through (her) portrait, she can see herself as beautiful again and that in itself is very empowering. Some of the women have said they have changed the course of their treatment because they believe attitude has so much to do with healing. With Courageous Kids, it offers documentation of a child’s life for that parent should something happen to the child. For the children themselves, it offers them an opportunity to escape from treatment. It’s a fun experience for the kids and offers an afternoon of escape.
Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY? A: For me, the delight has always been capturing that moment in time when it’s just a perfect expression, and you know when it’s that perfect moment. It’s bringing to life that person on a flat piece of paper. That has been the thrill of portraiture for me.