Jennifer Marvin is a little surprised the idea didn’t come to her sooner.
In the wake of last year’s Camp Fire, Marvin filled her car with supplies and drove from her home in the East Bay to Paradise to hand them out to the victims of California’s biggest and deadliest wildfire ever. So, she clearly was a woman who wanted to help.
Still, it wasn’t until Marvin saw a story about Paradise High School students returning to the closed school’s still-standing football stadium for a graduation ceremony that it dawned on her she could help another way: with her talent.
Marvin, an Oakland-based professional portrait photographer, called the school and asked a question. “Did anyone get senior portraits?”
The answer was, mostly, no.
Marvin immediately began making preparations and recently returned to Paradise to take senior portraits, for free, for any graduates willing to sit for her.
“I just feel like they deserve it, [to have] some uplifting memories to think back on,” she said. “It's horrible what happened. I can't help everybody but I want to.”
Once the school approved of her idea, Marvin took all of her equipment and drove up to Paradise to meet the students affected by the wildfires.
One by one, she spent 15 minutes with each student and their families at the school’s still in-tact football stadium.
Some students brought their graduation cap and gown, posing for Marvin as she took shots of them at different angles and spots along the field.
For the graduating seniors who lost so much at Paradise, Marvin said she wanted to give them a chance to experience one of the activities they missed out on.
“I want to put a smile on their face so it's really not a big deal,” she said. “This is what I do, I just want to help I really do.”
As the kids from Paradise High School move on to new experiences, Marvin said she made sure they left with some uplifting memories from their senior year.
“When they get their new house, that'll be on the mantle and everything,” she said. “All their old photos are gone, so this is the first of many for their new beginning so that's pretty crazy.”