Bay Area Proud

East Bay Photographer Captures Precious Memories for Families With Seriously Ill Children

'When the future is uncertain, the present is more valuable than ever and capturing it ... priceless.'

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The Solomon family of Gilroy has their hands full.

Not only do parents Kara and Jeff have three boys under the age of 10, their 3-year-old Bennett has a rare neurological disorder. As a result, he lives with a host of physical challenges.

"We really don't know what the future looks like for him," Kara Solomon said.

For parents in such situations, arranging for a professional family portrait might understandably fall down the list of priorities.

Thankfully, for people like the Solomons, Karen Henrich is there with her camera.

Henrich is the founder of Moment By Moment, a nonprofit that works with Bay Area hospitals, hospices and camps to provide free family portraits to families with seriously ill children.

Last year alone, Henrich and her team of volunteer photographers did photo shoots with more than 750 families. Since founding the nonprofit, Moment By Moment has worked with close to 5,000 families.

“I would say that my biggest joy is being able to enter into a family's life and see a little snippet of their emotions, their interaction, their connection,” Henrich said. “I just want to be sure that I capture that as effectively as possible.”

The idea for her nonprofit, Moment by Moment, came from an experience she shared with a friend 16 years ago.

Henrich was scheduled to take photographs of the friend's newborn son when things took an unexpected, devastating turn. The child was not going to survive.

“He was in transition, he was passing. And to watch the emotions of my friends, it was just unconscionable to think about what they were going through,” she said.

Henrich could have stopped shooting but decided to document the moment, "because what I was seeing was their love and their connection and courage."

Henrich immediately understood the value of such photographs to other families in similar situations. It can be difficult, emotional work, but Henrich has learned how important those pictures are to the families.

“Every day that I'm in the hospital or out in the park or in a family's home, I just feel like that's the place that I'm most alive in terms of what I can provide, photography-wise,” Henrich said.

The Solomons say they are grateful Henrich lends her eye, and her lens, to those who wish to see how they care for their newborns, through photographs.

“Every time I look at them it's just going to make me feel the love that I have for my family and just grateful that we are all together,” Kara Solomon said.

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