JACKSON, Tenn. – March 31, 2014 – A student photography class at Union University is helping teenagers in foster care find permanent homes through a project for The Heart Gallery of Middle Tennessee.
The Heart Gallery is a national volunteer-based organization that promotes foster children to future adoptive parents through photographs, said Stefanie Edwards, a 2000 Union alumna and marketing director of Tennessee’s Heart Gallery. Photos of foster children eligible for adoption are posted on the Heart Gallery’s website, showcased in exhibits and advertised through media outlets to encourage families to adopt.
Edwards said the Tennessee chapter of The Heart Gallery launched in the fall of 2013 in Nashville, where many Tennessee foster children travel to have their photos taken by volunteer photographers. With the help of Union students, however, The Heart Gallery recently was able to offer its first photo shoot in Jackson for eight West Tennessee foster teens.
Melinda Posey, assistant professor of art, said five students from her Art Photography class participated in the photo project with The Heart Gallery. After undergoing background checks, the student photographers met with the foster teens March 19 on Union’s campus.
The photographers spent about 45 minutes photographing the teens, ranging from 12 to 16 years old, Edwards said. While people normally feel anxious or shy in front a camera, Edwards noted that the photographers helped the teens relax for the photos – resulting in natural-looking shots that the teens loved.
“The photographers had a good time with the kids, and that’s so important – that a photographer relates with the kids,” Edwards said. “The pictures are going to show off their personalities and individual styles, which is important to them.”
Posey added that the project helped students not only develop their photography skills but also serve a worthy cause. As a result, both she and Edwards plan to continue the photography partnership, with the next photo session for The Heart Gallery tentatively scheduled for the fall semester.
“I hope that our students see how using their skill set is a ministry opportunity that is God given,” Posey said. “This is just another way that we can give image to the hands and feet of the Church.”
For more information about The Heart Gallery of Middle Tennessee, visit www.heartgalleryoftn.com.
By Beth Knoll