OAW launches photographer mentorship program


Springfield and St. Louis, Missouri: On Angels’ Wings is pleased to announce that it has launched a mentorship program for photographers interested in volunteering for the organization, but still new to photography.

A large portion of the photo sessions OAW provides are taken in the hospital in low light settings. Flash is prohibited in NICUs because of the negative impact the startle can have on the child under care. And the organization prohibits flash in hospital loss situations due to its invasive nature in such an emotionally vulnerable moment. Thus photographers that volunteer for the organization must have technical skills to accommodate low light environments.

“Reality is, we have high quality standards as an organization because our goal is to provide families with images they will treasure,” says Michelle Cramer, founder and executive director. “For many of these families, the images are all they have of their child, so we make certain the photographer that volunteer for OAW can provide beauty in the darkness.”

Within the photography industry, mentorship programs can cost hundreds of dollars. On Angels’ Wings provides this program free of charge to willing participants, but recognizes that the skills these photographers will acquire through the program will aid them in monetizing their own photography business. Therefore, participants will be required to sign a Mentorship Agreement, committing to complete at least eight sessions for OAW over two years after completing the program in exchange for the learned skills.

Currently, the program provides as single mentor each in Springfield and St. Louis, Missouri, who each work with one mentee at a time in order to provide dedicated attention. The program is an extension of OAW’s Supporting our Network of Area Photographers program (SNAP), which is partially funded through a grant from Hospice Foundation of the Ozarks. 

The mentorship program is only offered to individuals after they’ve applied to volunteer with On Angels’ Wings, and to those whose skill set is right on the cusp of handling the low light settings necessary. Those interested in being a volunteer photographer can apply on the OAW website.

OAW recognizes that it takes a special individual to be willing to serve in these gut-wrenching circumstances. “We want to honor that heart to serve; we’re very grateful for it,” Cramer says. “That’s why we launched this program. We want to help photographers who want to give back but maybe are just getting started in the field to hone their technical skills so that they can meet those quality standards too.”


On Angels’ Wings is a Missouri non-profit organization that seeks to improve the mental health and wellness of families with medically fragile children (regardless of race, ethnicity, class status or orientation) through therapeutic photography and grief recovery services, free of charge. oawphoto.org

Hospice Foundation of the Ozarks is a Missouri non-profit organization that awards grants to organizations which are involved in end-of-life services and education. The Foundation supports hospice, palliative care, advance directives, grief and bereavement services, educational programs and other activities which nurture informed personal choices and respect for diverse cultural identities in the end-of-life experience. hospiceozarks.org

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