Photography and photojournalism in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

Telling a story: A school’s fight against cancer

Although they aren’t scenic like the Gorge waterfalls I’ve come to love, photographing the faces of people has always been fascinating to me because of the memorable expressions or emotion. The photo above is a case in point. Taken during a fundraising assembly at Wilsonville, Ore., High School, it shows two girls who are donating their hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit group that uses those donations to craft custom wigs for cancer patients, especially children. When I first saw the image above, I knew at once I would be using it for my assignment for the Wilsonville Spokesman newspaper. The girl, senior Hayley Bird of Wilsonville, was definitely not used to having a foot of hair lopped off in one go, and it clearly showed. The combination of shock and joy was magnetic even as I released the shutter.

In a similar vein, chemistry teacher Jim O’Connell, right, volunteered to allow students to shave his head once they met a pre-determined fundraising goal of $4,000, to be donated to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Ore. It didn’t take long to reach that mark, resulting in a string of students taking their turn to carve chunks out of what used to be a perfectly respectable haircut. Sharing the same sense of shock and joy, I caught O’Connell laughing almost to himself as a student gleefully whacks away with the clippers. A successful photograph shares with the viewer a story. And to me, both these images richly fulfill that goal.

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