Alexis* twisted one long braid, silently perched atop a chair in the lobby of the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches’ administration building. She bit her lower lip and sighed.
“Are you excited about getting senior pictures made?” A staff member asked.
She nodded slowly. She fidgeted with a scarf she held, fraying its edges between her fingers.
“I just brought this because I think it looks like something you wear for senior pictures. I don’t wear this in real life,” she admitted.
Her shoulders relaxed when a minivan arrived a few moments later, a tall, slender woman sporting a large camera case, walking confidently toward the door.
“Are you Alexis? I’m Harmony, your photographer. Are you ready?” Harmony extended her hand and smiled. Alexis returned the smile and followed Harmony, waving at us as she wandered off toward the barn to find her favorite bunny to feature in her senior pictures.
Alexis, like many Ranchers—children who call the Ranch home—came to live at the Ranch years ago. After living in traditional foster care, Alexis and her siblings arrived at the Ranch apprehensive about the future and uncertain about their surroundings. After months of stability, support, and therapeutic foster care, Alexis began to relax. She built relationships with staff and her fellow Ranchers and even enjoyed herself. Over the years, the Ranch became more than a place to live. It became home.
The Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches provides family-style foster care to about 60 children per year on its nearly 600-acre campus near Batesville, Arkansas. The children who call the Ranch home stay for varying lengths of time depending on their needs and whether they find forever homes. For those who stay at the Ranch for many years, the Ranch becomes an incredibly loving, secure haven.
The Ranch staff work hard to provide for the children’s needs and wants. Staff provide program services and transportation, collaborate with community partners, seek donations, and recruit volunteers. The Ranch’s Assistant Program Director, Errica Pruden, recently sought a local photographer to donate a special on-site senior photography session for Alexis. Within hours of posting the request, Harmony Brookshire of Brookshire Photography offered to help.
Harmony Brookshire: Making clients feel special
Harmony divulged that she loves talking to senior high school students, asking them what kind of look they are wanting and going for.
“I ask them about their interests/hobbies to see if they want to incorporate those things in their photos because this is for them! I love images taken outside in beautiful, natural light,” Harmony explains.
Harmony tries to shoot senior photo sessions in locations they love or think would be fun. She looks for locations which might match the client’s personality. Simple and classic poses, designed to generate feelings of confidence and comfort in front of the camera, are Harmony’s favorite.
“When clients feel confident, photographers get genuine, beautiful smiles. I want their experience with me, as the photographer, to be one they remember as being fun and comfortable,” she adds.
Harmony began her photography business two years ago. What began as a real estate photography business quickly expanded into portrait sessions and other aspects of photography.
“Now I love photographing families, newborns, couples, weddings, seniors, while still assisting real estate agents. The variety keeps me on my toes and allows me to be creative. I meet so many amazing people I would never interact with otherwise,” Harmony shares.
More than photography: Using her gift to serve
Harmony enjoys using her gift of photography to serve others. She volunteers as a photographer periodically for her church, Fellowship Bible Church of Batesville. As a former teacher, Harmony has always had a soft spot in her heart for children—especially children in foster care—so she jumped at the opportunity to partner with the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches.
“I really wanted to show Alexis how special, beautiful, and loved she is. And if that was something I could do by taking photos, I was in,” Harmony says.
In addition to managing her photography business, Harmony invests her time in her family as a mother of four boys. She and her husband, Michael, celebrate 14 years of marriage in May. Harmony and her family love being part of the Batesville community. We at the Ranch believe the Batesville community is lucky the Brookshire family is part of it, too.
Are you an expert in your field or industry? Do you have a talent or skill you’re willing to share with Ranchers or a product you can donate through your business? Let’s talk about how you can volunteer, get involved, or give to the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches today.
*Alexis’ name and personal details have been changed to protect her identity.