You’d be forgiven for thinking an assignment centered around children with very serious health challenges would, for many reasons, be difficult to get through.
As Terri Glanger found out, however, working with St. Jude and Chili’s proved to be an amazing, ultimately heartwarming experience.
I probably expected a more subdued or quiet energy, but I was so very wrong. St. Jude has a vibrant, bubbling, enthusiastic energy that you really do feel from everyone there. It’s infectious and fills one with a sense of hope and optimism.
Terri’s main point of contact was the creative agency Johnson and Sekin, whose representatives made the two-day shoot a trouble-free endeavor.
They were wonderful, involved, and hands-on in helping to make the kids feel totally comfortable and special. They even helped keep the energy up while I was shooting and get the best out of each child. It felt like a real team effort!
The pitch was basically to capture the kids as authentically as possible and, ideally, with personality and joy so that patrons of Chili’s would see them and relate to them as if they were their own children.
As we’ll discuss in a little bit, getting the kids to show off their personality wasn’t too challenging because of how engaging they were throughout the shoot. The project’s premise was to have the children use the available props and clothing to create outfits that represent what they want to be when they grow up.
The actual photographs were done on a white CYC on location at the amazing studio of St. Jude.
They had several wardrobe choices for each child as well as a table full of props they could pick from to help illustrate their dreams. They also had a cute little light-up sign with each child’s name on it to add that little extra touch of making them feel like a star!
Terri spent much of the shoot hanging out with the kids and learning about their stories and ambitions. Since St. Jude is a world-renowned pediatric hospital, patients like Shaurya come from all over seeking top-tier treatment.
To my knowledge, he and his family are in Memphis all the way from India to get treatment for his acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
He’s a truly special boy. Highly intelligent, articulate, and enthusiastic about life and his future. If I remember correctly, he told us he wanted to be a businessman, a scientist, and a pilot. He also said he’s currently an author and a poet!
The first patient Terri worked with was Avalyn, whose cheerful spirit foreshadowed the project’s uplifting vibes.
Avalyn was the first child we photographed, and she set the tone for a fun and easy shoot! She’s super bright, has a sweet personality, and an adorable smile!
Her dreams range from being a chef to being a superhero. Maybe one day she will find a way to fight crime with delicious macaroons!
One of Terri’s big takeaways from the work was the depth of personality of these young children. In spending quality time with her subjects, Terri got to see all of the characteristics that make these kids so much fun to be around. Take, for example, Maelin-Kate, one of the youngest patients from the assignment.
This little girl is simply precious. She has such an infectious smile and a gentle sweetness about her. But she also surprised us with her spunky side, too. As soon as she warmed up in front of the camera, you could just feel her fun energy. We wanted a big smile, so we asked her if she could give us a fake laugh, mainly because asking someone to fake laugh often causes some real laughter to follow. She certainly delivered! She gave the best fake laugh with so much gusto!
Terri mentioned that, if not for the setting, you might not know that these children are trying to overcome serious health setbacks. Their upbeat dispositions won the day and made it impossible not to smile throughout the shoot. Quincy and Jazzy were no exceptions.
Quincy is so handsome and full of positive energy, strength, and confidence. He had some great poses up the sleeve of his surgeon’s coat!
He definitely charmed us all and really just has a wonderful way about him. You would certainly never know he was battling any health issues.
It was such a treat to meet Jazzy and her family! She had her parents and grandparents there to cheer her on! Jazzy has a gentle and sweet demeanor with a beautiful bright smile and eyes that sparkle! She danced for us solo and with her family in some shots! She even did some air-guitar!
A first-ever trip to St. Jude and Memphis left Terri with lifelong memories and an appreciation for the opportunity to work on this kind of assignment. What could’ve been an emotionally taxing couple of days ended up being the polar opposite, a memory Terri and her collaborators will cherish forever.
I love when it’s a team effort and I feel like the warmth of the whole team made the kids feel as comfortable as any child could walking into a big studio and having a camera pointed at them. They all warmed up really quickly and were truly delightful!
I could not have given my time to a more worthy cause and I feel so grateful to have been part of it.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital:
Strategic Partnerships: Bre Bowen
Associate Director, Integrated Marketing: Jacqueline Rucker
Patient Team: Mallory Box
Patient Team: Lizzy Yatsula
Creative Team: Megan Armstrong
Creative Team: Laura Horn
Chili’s Grill & Bar:
Johnson + Sekin Creative Agency:
Creative Director: Shannon Phillips
Account Director: Sarah Eck
Producer: Rachael Sekin
Associate Creative Director: James Harrison
Account Supervisor: Jessica Tade
Designer: Joanna Tang
Copywriter: Bryce Morgan
To donate to St. Jude, visit stjude.org/donate.
See more of Terri’s work at glanger.com.
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