Behind the Scenes at a Photo Shoot

It was a typical summer’s day in the South—with heat and humidity that felt like a sauna. But the temperature didn’t hold us back. Today, it was all hands on deck for the SC Heart Gallery photo shoot in Falls Park in downtown Greenville, SC.


Staff and volunteers showed up early to set out coolers of bottled water and juice and boxes cookies and chips for the children to enjoy during their time with us. Several volunteer photographers prepared their equipment and scouted various locations throughout the park where they would soon be photographing children. Likewise, our videographer set up under a tent in a quiet area away from the noise of the rest of the group.


One at a time, the children and their caseworkers began to arrive. Some were a little nervous, while others were just excited about the experience. It was obvious that each child had worn their favorite outfit; they wanted to look their best for the potential adoptive families who would be seeing these photographs.


Each child was assigned a photographer and a staff member to ask questions about their likes and preferences; their answers would be used in a profile to accompany their photos. What do they want to be when they grow up? What is their favorite subject in school? Who is their role model?


Before long, we were in full swing. The photographers hardly got a break—as soon as one session finished up, they started off with another child. Each child who was photographed was also interviewed on camera, capturing footage that would be used to create his or her own individual video. By 2pm, everyone was exhausted from the heat but—at the same time—uplifted and encouraged by the children we had met.


In total, 18 children participated in that SC Heart Gallery photo shoot in Greenville. This number is in addition to 94 children who were photographed and 70 who were videotaped by the Heart Gallery from January to June this year. The photos and videos captured during these sessions are gateways to adoption for these children—keys to permanent placement with a family of their own.


For the opportunity to serve children in this way is truly a blessing.


The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.


A Hidden Hero: Michael Haley

We have the pleasure of meeting some pretty incredible people through our work–people who stand up on behalf of children in South Carolina who don’t have families of their own. This month the SC Heart Gallery Foundation blog is dedicated to these “hidden heroes”. Though we know there are hundreds out there, we will be identifying jut a few of them each week.


To kick off this series, we’ll start with South Carolina’s First Gentleman, Michael Haley.


Photo courtesy of Associated Press


As someone who was adopted at the age of 5, Mr. Haley knows what a loving family can mean for a child. He graciously served as a spokesperson for the “Open Your Hearts, Open Your Doors” campaign to support the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery and its Foundation.


“I love the South Carolina Heart Gallery because of everything it embodies and gives back to the state. It’s everything that came to fruition in my life: security, stability, organization, and a loving home,” Mr. Haley said in a promotional video last year.


“I believe that we can find a permanent home for all of our South Carolina children waiting for adoption; I don’t think that goal is far out of reach.


“Opening your door to a child and providing them a loving, caring, permanent home is one of the greatest gifts that you can give. I would tell any family that is looking to adopt that these kids are our future; they are part of us, they are part of South Carolina, and we can make a difference in each of their lives. It made a difference in my life.”


The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.


Meet SC Heart Gallery Foundation Board Member: Catherine Ryan

HeadshotCatherine Ryan is a freelance writer and consultant; she also works as a content strategist with Engenius Web in Greenville, SC. With over six years of experience in marketing and fundraising—primarily working with non-profits—her background includes editorial and promotional content generation, publication management, direct mail, and PR.


Born and raised in South Carolina, Catherine studied marketing at Clemson University. Following graduation, she spent a short time in Nashville before moving to Australia with her Aussie husband. During part of her time overseas, she was the Communications Manager for Compassion Australia, a holistic child development organization that works with children in poverty. Catherine and her husband moved back to South Carolina in late 2012, where they enjoy spending time outdoors with their chocolate Labrador, Baxter.


Catherine uses her communications background to benefit children in foster care through the South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation. She is passionate about empowering children with avenues to speak up and be heard.


“We live in a society where children are often overlooked and undervalued,” Catherine says. “That’s why the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation is so important. Through photographs and even videos, we provide a channel for children in foster care to be seen and heard, which allows them to connect with prospective adoptive families. We are empowering these children with a platform and a voice.”