Monday, April 24, 2017

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Prom - another chance to give back!

Many years ago, my daughter was going through ongoing treatment at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital for her Crohn's Disease. It was at that time that my wife and I offered to volunteer for their annual prom. And once again this year, I had the honor to photograph this amazing event for them.

If you have followed the blog for a while now, you will likely remember seeing a post from this event each year. Why? Because these kids are just amazing. Each one of them has been in the hospital for treatment, many of them for serious diseases, but they show up to this prom and show just how happy they can be.


This shot was taken using my fish eye lens. I stood really close to the sign so that it would be bigger in the final image. But in the background, you can see the red carpet that was put out for the kids.


This year's theme was masquerade, and the decorations were perfectly suited for the event.


I got to the event about an hour early, to take detail shots and get the lay of the land. I saw these two ladies all dressed up and asked them if we could do a photo.


As the kids arrived, they were checked in by the volunteers.


Just like the previous years, the kids were given corsages and boutonnieres as they entered.


And like the last couple of years, there were 8 of the San Francisco 49er players who volunteered their time to be a part of this year's prom. The 49ers had their photographers and staff on hand for photos as well.


How awesome do these kids look in their clothing, masks and flowers?


The players took turns escorting the kids to the dance area.


The kids really loved mingling with the NFL players, and the players were having a great time too.


In this photo, I took just a small portion of the prize table, but you can see the quality of the give-aways. Again, many of these items were donated by the companies.


You know when you have NFL players in the house, you are going to have a lot of selfies happening. I love this shot of Marcus Ball posing with these two girls. I showed it to Marcus after I took the photo, and he loved it. Using the WiFi feature of the Canon 5D Mark IV, I was able to transfer it directly to my iPhone and then Airdrop it to him right there on the spot. Very cool.


As you can see, the kids were having a lot of fun. (Photographer's note: I was using a combination of the Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 1Dx Mark II cameras, and mostly using the Canon 24-70mm lens and the Canon 16-35mm lens. Like most events, I was using a combination of two Canon 600EX-RT flashes. I had one of them on my camera, with the Magmod MagSphere, and one on a Manfrotto light stand off on the side of the room. You can see the remote flash in the background top of this photo.)


One might think that dancing with all this connected to you would dampen the mood for this young lady, but nope! She had a big smile all night. At one point, she motioned for me to come over to her. She held up her phone, in which she had typed out a couple of song requests. and I made sure that the DJ had that covered.


More fun...



This is one of my favorite photos from the night, showing Pierre Garcon (formerly with the Washington Redskins) partying with the kids. He was out on the dance floor all night with these kids.



As in previous years, I love capturing photos of the hospital staff interacting with the kids.


Everyone is on the dance floor, regardless of wheelchairs, IV poles... As I mentioned, this is one inspiring event to photograph.


Did I mention that there were a lot of selfies happening during this evening? Even the players were having fun capturing the moment.



In a time when there is so much negative press about players in the NFL, it sure was nice to see these guys give everything they had to these kids.



When I teach photography, I always talk about capturing the emotions. Well...as you can see from these photos, these guys were truly enjoying themselves. There is no faking these smiles!




Yes - more selfies...


This photo was taken by Amanda Halbakken. She is an aspiring photographer friend of ours, and she was helping me out for the night. I was teaching her during the event, and she did a great job.


I love this photo with one of the SF 49ers towering above the crowd. Too funny.




I saw this young lady who was using one phone to light herself and the other to capture a photo. I just had to get a shot of that.


I also saw this girl looking intently at her phone. Seeing the glow of light on her pace, I quickly turned off my flash, and grabbed the shot using only the ambient light in the room and from her phone.


It turns out that the two ladies I photographed earlier in the evening, were amazing artists, who decorated the kids.



For all the healthy kids out there who stress about the little details of their prom (shoes, dress, transportation...), I welcome them to look at this photo and realize how fortunate they are.


Towards the end of the evening, they had a drawing and the many of the kids received their prize packs.


At the end of the night, each kid is given a sweatshirt, and they really loved them.


The kids also took home photos of themselves with the 49ers.


At each prom, the hospital has a quiet room where the kids could hang out. In this rooms, they had the body painters, popcorn, and a giant black board where the kids could leave a note. I love their messages. If you read them, you can see how much they appreciate the efforts of the volunteers and hospital staff.


The last dance was a slow song. I jumped up on the stage and took some final photos of the kids. I looked around the room to find the right subjects, and saw these two enjoying that moment. A perfect ending to a great night.


As I do each year, I waited until all the kids had left and the volunteers had a chance to come together.


I would like to personally thank each of these staff members for everything they do. They worked tirelessly to make this evening a success.


And here are all the others who made this possible. Kudos to them!

As I was leaving, Caitlin, my contact at the hospital, said that I better make sure to be available next year, and my answer was "I would not miss it for the world!"


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3 comments:

Unknown said...

Great stuff, Jeff, and I honor your effort and commitment to these kids. I assume many have continuing health problems, but your efforts and those of the volunteers and the 49ers (!) obviously make this event special for those kids. Congrats!

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