Belmont Village…Hands of Love Project

(This is me trying to get caught up with the many weeks of not blogging…)

Recently I participated in an amazing project for Belmont Village, a senior living community that offers varying levels of care for our aging population.  I was on their radar as a photographer because my Mom lives in one of their neighborhoods geared toward residents with dementia.MaryWhen they approached me about being the photographer for their “Hands of Love” project, I was thrilled!  The project was a great way to combine my love of photography with my art background.  We discussed the parameters of the project and they gave me complete creative control of the photography which was wonderful.Frank Cummings 2I wanted to wait until the show had taken place to share some of the images and stories from the residents.  I love that this project really highlights the lives that they had prior to coming to Belmont.  People forget sometimes that these seniors who can’t remember things or get angry easily once had careers, families and hobbies. Eleanor 2I spent quite a few afternoons visiting with the residents and taking lots of photos.  They were excited to share their stories and to show me their ‘props’.  We even hosted an event where the families could come and take photos of their hands together with the residents.  This was a huge family who was very excited to have this photo as their loved one was just entering hospice care.Shirley TrudeauEvery person had a story…some were simple and some tugged right at my heart.  Here are some of my favorites…

Meet Bob…Bob HOlm 2Bob used to play baseball.  In fact, he once pitched a no hitter during a very special game.  This is the game ball which was signed by all of the participants.  This ball has been one of Bob’s most prized possessions.  Bob has a grandson who is also a pitcher on a baseball team.  Right before our session, Bob handed down the cherished baseball to his grandson. These are their hands.

Meet Merle…Merle 2Merle is 110 years old.  She has written 11 books, all in long hand in spiral notebooks and all since she turned 70.  She is a prankster with an amazing sense of humor.  My daughter was completely smitten with her when they met and often asks if we can go back to visit.  These are her hands.

Meet Christine…Christine KChristine is a fun lady who painted her nails just for our session.  She used to be a model in her youth and brought a photo from one of her sessions along.  She even offered to model for me, if I ever needed a “more mature lady”.  These are her hands.

Meet Fred & Carol…Fred Hoyum & CaroleThey live together here as they have for many years.  Their wedding photo was up on a high shelf and when I asked them if I could take it down to photograph it with their hands they said “I don’t know why you would want to take photos of these old ugly hands.”  These are their beautiful hands still holding on to each other.

Meet Rute…Rute 3In her youth she was a pianist.  When we asked her to play for us she informed us that she wasn’t sure how any more.  We told her that it was OK, just pretend.  But when she placed her hands on the keys they just seemed to know what to do all by themselves.  These are her hands.

Meet Jim…Jim z 5Jim was a pilot.  His son is also a pilot for the exact same airline.  The bond between them was obvious just in the short time we spent together taking photos.  The son holds his father’s hands because he was too shaky to hold the hat himself.  He is also wearing his father’s watch.  Such a powerful image of their hands.

Meet Mike…Mike JeswithMike was an architect in his younger years.  He wasn’t even going to participate in this project but I happened to see him reading the paper and I started up a conversation with him where I learned that he used to design buildings.  He shared that he had some cool photos of himself in front of a building that was special to him so I ran up to get them and he agreed to pose for this photo for me.  These are his hands.

Meet Bob…Bob MBob brought out his dog tags along with stories about his time in the military.  I love this photo as it speaks to an entire generation of men who were defined by their war time service including many of my own relatives.  These are his hands.

Meet Herman…Herman KampfHerman was a basketball player.  You can tell he is tall even though he was sitting in a wheelchair.  He even pretended to shoot the ball for me.  His love of the game was evident from the moment the ball was handed to him.  These are his hands.

Herb JSo many great stories…too many photos to post them all here.  A few weeks ago they hosted an opening where the photos were on display for both the residents and their families to see.  After the show ended, the framed photos were then gifted to the residents (or family members).  I was sad to see how many of the people that I had just met were already gone to higher level care…even my friend Bob the baseball player.  Much to my surprise…Bob and his family organized a visit to attend the photography show.  He is currently in rehab after an amputation but he begged them to let him go for the evening to see his photo with this family and they finally said YES!  It was touching to see them there.  Barbara DThis is my Mom’s hand holding the hand of my daughter.  This is the hand that changed my diapers, prepared the food that nourished me and taught me how to be paint.  And this is the hand of the child that I have done the same for.

Hands are a powerful thing.



IMG_9568Meet Michael.IMG_9395I was lucky enough to meet his awesome wife on a local chat about having celiac years ago.  We had lunch, became friends, and we have shared many dinners, book clubs, etc since.IMG_9392Recently, we were out to dinner and chatting about photography when the subject of head shots came up.  I was sharing my thoughts about how important it is to have great head shots for your professional image when Michael showed me his.  IMG_9449It’s interesting to look at a head shot of someone you don’t know.  You formulate ideas about who they are instantly.  But try looking at a headshot of someone you do know.  IMG_9459Does that shot look like the person they are?  In Michael’s case…the answer was ‘No’.  I suggested that we do some updating and he was in!IMG_9506Anyone who knows Michael knows how appropriate it was that we met in downtown Wheaton at the Starbucks. I thought the urban/vintage vibe would be great for him.IMG_9467Michael is funny, quirky, super smart and interesting.  I wanted his photos to reflect all of those things with a more casual feel.  IMG_9404Of course, we had a few great outtakes….as I would expect with this guy!IMG_9406IMG_9630IMG_9386I told you…he’s a funny guy.  But, mostly, we captured some amazing photos that I think will give someone a sense of his personality long before they meet him.IMG_9631I also put together some photos just for him personally….cool black and white shots that are more artsy than the normal head shot.IMG_9444IMG_9434It was such a fun night.  He discovered a side of Wheaton he never knew existed (including my favorite alleyways) and I enjoyed his interesting and fun company.IMG_9477Thinking of getting new head shots?  Give me a call…I would love to put together a great portfolio of images that will make your LinkedIn page or website a more effective tool.


Epic Blog Fail!

I guess they are right about New Year’s resolutions….great intentions, not always great results.  So far this year my goal to post more often to my blog has not happened.  I blame the gloomy weather we have had here in Chicago for my lack of motivation.  Seriously…we have gone DAYS without sun!  I need sun apparently…cropped-black-ground-logo.pngSo, let’s catch up!  I did post about my new logo. (my one and only post that is)  That has led to a frantic ordering of new business cards, revamping websites and reworking promotional materials.  And, speaking of promotions, if you belong to any of the Facebook groups that I am on, you will know that I also ran some pretty great promotions to start off the new year.  I love giving away photo sessions….it makes me so happy.  I have set big goals this year for making sure that I give back to the many people who have supported me and so far…so good!img_9591I have also been changing things around in my house.  The typical New Year’s purge has happened….my studio has now turned into a prop closet and photography equipment storage center…and we are in the middle of redoing my daughter’s bedroom with an updated style more reflective of her growing up…mixed feelings on that one.  She is my toughest customer…it took 6 paint samples for us to finally agree on one.  The winter weather and post holiday blahs don’t lend themselves to too many photo sessions but we did have a nice warm day where I was able to visit one of my favorite clients and do a little lifestyle session with them. img_9371 I am excited that more and more people are requesting this cool photo documentary style. Stay tuned for a whole post devoted to this increasingly popular style of photography.  If I could do all Lifestyle sessions for my clients….I think I would.  They are very authentic and real and give a snapshot of what your life is like in this moment.  What an amazing gift to give your children some day…the ability to capture your memories.  So watch for another post devoted to that subject coming soon…kim-engagement-collageI am also adding a whole section to my website devoted to products.  I recently ordered a few items for myself so that I could see how my photography translated to the products that I would like to offer.  From metal prints to photo books to photo collages….there will be so many great items to choose from.  The photo collages are fun and can be customized with more than just photos.  They can be printed in any size and are ready for framing.  You choose your photos and other items and I put them together.  So much fun!jayda-collageAt the moment,  I am frantically working on the dance decorations for my daughter’s last Daddy Daughter Dance in elementary school.  Here is a photo from last year’s dance…img_9120  The part of me that singlehandedly creates these things every year is happy to say goodbye to this huge undertaking.  But, the part of me that can’t believe that my baby will be in middle school next year is not quite so happy.img_8106This winter has not been the best for nice snowy photo sessions.  I captured this photo of Ella on the one day that we had some white snow.  While I am enjoying the warmer winter…my clients who wanted pretty snow photos have been disappointed.  Maybe we will get a bit more snow yet….

I am pleased to say that my calendar is filling up with photo session bookings for the upcoming seasons.  If you want to guarantee yourself a spot in either Spring, Summer or Fall, please be sure to drop me a note soon.  No specific dates yet….I will wait to see how the weather pans out this year…but once you are on my list I guarantee you a spot!  Check out my website for more information at…

Becci Hethcoat Photography

Happy February!!