This prom is for all the kids who can not attend their school proms, usually due to them having low immune systems or other limiting factors. They may be currently in the hospital for treatment, or it is possible that they were treated and are in remission. Either way, it is a chance for these kids who face very difficult challenges to forget about those difficulties and have a great night of fun. My own daughter has been treated at UCSF, for her Crohn's Disease, and is a testament to their quality of care. They take great care of her, and I try to reciprocate with what I do best!
It is pretty amazing the way that so many of the hospital staff and other volunteers pitch in to convert a small auditorium into a prom venue.
I took this first shot to show the room before all the kids arrived.
Most everything is donated for this event, from the outfits to the corsages. I took this shot straight over the table to show the abundance of donated flowers.
I asked one of the volunteers to hold up a bouquet so that I could get a detail shot of the flowers with all the others diffused in the background.
For the second year in a row, a bunch of the San Francisco 49ers participated in the prom, taking turns escorting the kids into the dance.
The kids are always so excited to meet the players and have their pictures taken with them.
This young man even brought a notebook for autographs.
There is a lot of negative press about players in the NFL, but it is moments like this when my faith in them is restored.
The parents are not allowed to enter the prom. Just the kids and the support staff. I heard numerous parents who worried about their kids being "left alone", but the hospital had plenty of staff members to stay with those that needed additional support.
I just love the spirit of these kids. Even though many of them are in wheelchairs, connected to IV poles or connected to other devices, they have huge smiles and no problem hitting the dance floor.
One young man was attending the prom while connected to his IV pole. I was walking by and saw that the nurses had decorated it to make it more festive. I pointed the camera up to photograph just that, figuring that this told the story as much as any other image I was capturing.
Outside the dance area, they had body painters, and the kids loved it. They also had numerous photo booths and a "chill out room".
Heck...they were having fun in any room.
I shot all of the photos with the Canon 1DX and Canon 5D Mark III. I mainly used the Canon 24-70mm lens, but occasionally used the Canon 16-35mm lens to get wide angle shots like this.
Some of the kids on the dance floor having a great time.
Just like last year, the 49ers came in and joined in on the dancing. Look at the reactions of the kids surrounding them. Priceless!
The 49ers had their staff photographers / videographers on site. The team photographer (Terrell Lloyd, who is a good friend) shot photos of all the kids with the players and had them printed by the time they left the dance.
DiAndre Campbell (Wide Receiver) was having as much fun as the kids, interacting and busting moves out on the dance floor.
At many events like this, when I feel that I have "shot out" an exhaustive amount of dance photos, I try shooting differently. In this case, I broke out the fish eye lens to get a different look.
I really like the way that the fish eye lens shows the wider scene...
...but having the 24-70mm lens to get in a little closer to get these types of reactions.
I guess there is never a better time for these kids to take selfies with their new NFL friends.
I really do believe that the challenges these kids face early in their lives make them stronger people in the long run. They show maturity beyond their years and appreciate things that many of us take for granted. Hopefully you look at these kids and they inspire you as much as they do me.
And I look forward to photographing next year's prom!
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