Farewell KL {A Charity Family Photoshoot at Batu Caves}

This was one of my very favourite Family Photoshoots in Kuala Lumpur so far. Maybe it was one of my all time favourite. It came together just at the last second, a confluence of lucky conicidences brought us together to make these pictures. The Sidaros family was about to leave for a new life in a new country, home packed, and on their last days in KL. They wanted a shoot that captured the feeling of the city, some of the magic of the place, and their memories of their life here.

Not only was this photoshoot at an amazing location, kaleidoscope colourful with joss sticks floating on the air; not only was the family a true delight, warm, loving, and up for anything; not only did they come to me by way of Clare, who had been their long time family photographer, and who had trained them so well, I hardly had to direct at all. All of that is true. And also, it was a charity shoot, and the Sidaros Family was so beyond gracious and generous in supporting my cause. I guess what I mean to say is that sometimes the stars line up in such a way that your track through life intersects with those of others and for a moment there is a flash of knowing, an opening of hearts, and of touching insides, and that expanded feeling that all is as it is meant to be. I’m only sorry that they left KL; I’m only sorry that I didn’t get to know them better.

This family photography gig is a real honour.

A happy family sits on the steps of Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.

A happy family sits on the steps of Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.

A family portrait by Kuala Lumpur Family Photographer Erica Knecht.
A family stands in front of a temple as a worshiper walks by at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.
An abstract double exposure by Kuala Lumpur photographer Erica Knecht.
A man shows off a string of Jasmine in Kuala Lumpur.
Batu Caves in the pre-dawn light by Kuala Lumpur Photographer Erica Knecht
A father embraces his daughter in a family photoshoot by KL photographer Erica Knecht.
A bag of Jasmine near Batu Caves.
Colorful Batu Caves steps in the early morning by Kuala Lumpur photographer Erica Knecht
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A family stands together as their little girl runs towards the camera with an exuberant smile on her face at Batu Caves.
A worshiper descends the steps at Batu Caves.
Paint on the Steps at Batu Caves,
The colorful stairs at Batu Caves, leading up towards the temple by Kuala Lumpur photographer Erica Knecht.
Birds fly over a temple at Batu Caves.
A family with two little girls in front of a temple at Batu Caves.
A mother embraces her daughter on the steps at Batu Caves by Kuala Lumpur family photographer Erica Knecht.
A black and white image of a father embracing his daughter framed by the mother and her daughter.
A mother embraces her daughter in front of the colourful facade of a Hindu Temple by Kuala Lumpur photographer Erica Knecht.
A black and white image of a mother embracing her smiling daughter in Kuala Lumpur by family photographer Erica Knecht.
A black and white image of a mother tickling her daughter by family photographer Erica Knecht in Kuala Lumpur.
A family portrait in front of a colourful temple in Kuala Lumpur.
Two little girls laugh on the colourful steps of Batu Caves.
A family portrait on the steps of Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur by Erica Knecht
A family plays together on the steps of Batu Caves by KL photographer Erica Knecht
A black and white family portrait with a mother and father each embracing a daughter in Kuala Lumpur by Erica Knecht.
A black and white portrait of a father embracing his daughter in Kuala Lumpur.
A mother and a daughter play on the steps of Batu Caves.
Two little girls give each other a big hug on the steps of Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur
A family portrait in black and white in Kuala Lumpur

Shoot for Charity {Charity Family Photoshoots}

A charity photoshoot in Kuala Lumpur by family photographer Erica Knecht.

It’s that time of year again! My birthday month, and time for Shoot for Charity. From now till September 26, I am offering family photoshoots in exchange for a donation to Orbis. Sessions are offered on a pay-what-you-can basis, and 100 percent of the money goes directly to charity. 


While we were on holiday in Switzerland, Lyra got sick. What at first seemed like a innocuous virus took a nasty turn and became a really dangerous infection. Long story short, I took her to the children’s hospital in Bern, probably the best Children’s Hospital in Switzerland, and she got thorough and careful medical care, a quick diagnosis, and a very full recovery. 

For days I lay with my sick little girl in hospital, our world expanding not much further than the foot of our bed, and I watched helicopters come and go, knowing that the children in them were likely much sicker than my little one. I felt gratitude swell beneath my ribs, immense thankfulness that I could just take my kid to the hospital, without a second thought to the expense, the competency or honesty of the doctors, or my ability to access and understand the system. I felt in my knees and my guts how lucky we are, how unjust it is that we have access to this, where  most other’s don’t.

I thought more about her eyes, her condition, the many surgeries she’s had, how much she’s gone through, how much we’ve gone through together. I thought about how at our list visit to the opthamologist, right before we left to Europe, he had told us that one eye the optical nerve had regenerated. Which is not something that is supposed to happen. But did. And it’s like a miracle bestowed upon us by top ranked specialists and  world class medical care. Again, a train of gratitude, and a deep sorrowful knowing that most kids who are born with eye disease can not even dream of such miracles.

And so, like I do every year, I’m donating my time and skill to raise money to help stop preventable blindness in people, just like my little girl, who have eye disease. 

I’m running a charity drive in support of Orbis, a global organization that brings sight-saving treatment to people in the developing world while also training local doctors to provide better care. They have this really cool flying hospital, aka an airplane with an operating theater inside, in which they preform sight saving surgeries in parts of the world where people need it most.

 

THE DETAILS

I’m offering family photography charity sessions between now and 23 September. Make a donation to Orbis, pay what you can (my suggestion is my usual rate for a family session 1680 MYR, but I’m happy for any reasonable donation! Really. No pressure. If you want to participate but can’t afford that, pay what you can.) And I’ll do a full family shoot for you.

If you’re interested, get in touch and we’ll work out a date. I’m asking that clients make a donation directly to Orbis, so that it’s 100 percent transparent and clear where the money goes. You can donate here on this page. Then, you just send me the email receipt, and you’re booked! 

For examples of my work, please go here to my portfolio, and for some recent sessions, here, and for some charity sessions see here and here

 

A BIT MORE ABOUT BLINDNESS AND WHY IT MATTERS

Imagine if you were living in an isolated, rural community in Malaysia, without many means, and with little political capital. Imagine if the joy of welcoming a new baby was then dampened by fear and worry as you noticed something not quite right with your child’s eyes. Imagine where you’d be able to find good help (nowhere?) Imagine what prospects that child would have for schooling (few?) and what their life might look like as an adult (pretty limited?) Now, imagine you were that mother or that father, really think, how would that feel? And what would it feel like to know that a medical intervention could save your child’s sight? 

I can tell you about the last part. It feels like your heart chest bursting wide open and your heart swelling with gratitude, hope, and your eyes stinging with tears every time you thought about it. 

Do you know that 40 or 45 million people in the world are blind (as defined by being unable to walk unassisted?) And most of those people live in sub-saharan Africa, India, and China. That’s 45 million people, mothers, fathers, children, lovers, friends, neighbors, people with stories and dreams and families and sorrows and hopes and love in their hearts. And that for most of these people, their dreams and ambitions are not releasable, snuffed out as their field of vision begins to close. Their lives are shrunk down to the circumference of the care and support they receive from their family and community.

What’s amazing though, is that about 80 percent of blindness is avoidable. Eighty percent! That means that so much can be done! And so many of these stories could go on to have a wider, and more fulfilling arc.

That’s why, out of all the amazing causes out there, I love to support Orbis. I know what good work they can do, and how much of an impact they can have on an individual, on a family, even a community. And I invite you to join me in giving the gift of sight to people who deserve it every bit as much as my little one does. 

Ten on Ten {October}

Is all I ever do here play catch up? I kinda think so. But in the spirit of eternal optimism, let me proclaim THIS TIME I'M GONNA STAY ON TOP OF MY BLOG. Because I like blogging. Regardless of if anyone ever reads my sentimental internet claptrap. And so, with that, I present the ELEVENTH of October, because another eternal truth about me is that I can never meet a deadline. Just ask my kid's kindergarten teacher at drop off time.

 

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05:45 // Woke up by this squawker.

05:55 // Diaper change and costume change.

06:43 // Breakfast face in the mirror.

08:41 // School run in a taxi.

08:43 // Share bikes make my world go round. They are ubiquitous in Shanghai: they cost about 20 cents a half hour; you can find them anywhere; they take you everywhere; you pay for them with your phone; and they are so easy to use. I wish all cities had such a great system. 

09:53 // A rainy day as seen from my office.

12:41 // Crammed as much work into a short time as I was able, then went out to find an ATM before heading home for some reason which now escapes me, and I guess that's why I should not wait four months to write these things.

14:46 // Post nap.

15:19 // On my way to meet Lyra's surgeon who happened to be in Shanghai for a couple of days. 

16:42 // I feel so acutely aware of our good fortune to have such good people supporting us as we navigate Lyra's condition. 

17:22 // Helping me make dinner

Down to The River {Shoot for Charity}

My first shoot for my charity project in partnership with Orbis International took place right in own neighbourhood. Each year I donate one month of work to a Charity project. And this year I'm working with Orbis, International, an organisation that brings sight-saving treatment to people in the developing world.

I connected with some neighbours, the kind you chat with on playground; the kind you admire but don't yet know why; the kind you wish you knew better. The brief was the kind I like best: capture us here in our home and in our neighbourhood and help us remember this time and this place, our boy's first home as we prepare to leave China behind.

We met at home, while Baby O was waiting for Daddy to come home. We chatted and played as we waited. I learned to say a few words in Czech. We talked about life, our families, our difficulties, and the the beautiful ways that living outside your passport country can stretch and change you. We talked about Lyra and how she's doing, and how lucky we are to get the treatment we do. We got to see each other and realize that it would have been better to know each other like this months earlier. 

And then Daddy came home. And it was all tickles and cuddles and jumping on the sofa. We got ready to go outside, the heat of the day was starting to soften. We walked down past the river, to their favourite bakery and got ice cream. Then we ran up the pathway and watched the boats. We saw a man playing the flute, and remarked that in China there is so much life in public spaces, and yes, we'll miss that. We did what is normal on a Friday evening, we became part of our neighbourhood and participated in the act of living. 

Thanks lovely people, thanks so much for participating in this project with me. Thanks for donating to Orbis, and giving the gift of sight. Thanks for giving the gift of sight. Thanks for helping another beautiful soul to be able to see their neighbours and be able to walk down to their river and watch their boats and participate in their own community. This is a gift that changes lives.

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Shoot for Charity

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Many of you may know that our tiny daughter Lyra was born with secondary congenital glaucoma. Glaucoma is pretty serious in children. It’s not the same run-of-the-mill laser fix as it is in adults. It's complicated. And it holds the real likeihood of robing young ones of the chance to witness the beauty in the physical world.

The time around her diagnosis and initial treatment was this strange phantasmagoria of intense heartache and deep gratitude. I was balanced on this poignant knife edge: deep sorrow for all my girl might miss; and then on the other intense gratefulness for all the opportunities we had. A burst of cherry blossoms, falling like snow, and sorrow would well in my chest. The arm of a stranger, reaching to help me carry our stroller down the subway stairs, and the the profound understanding that there is no greater beauty than that what is found by loving one another.

One narrative that kept replaying in my mind was the imagined story of my daughter had she been born to a different family with fewer means in a different country without access to excellent medical care. We could give our daughter the very best care available. She is being seen by some of the leading specialists in her disease. And even if all medical interventions fail, she’ll have every opportunity available to her. But what about a child born in rural China? This condition would almost certainly spell blindness and a life of restriction and limitation.

Every year, around my birthday I donate my time and my work to charity. This year, I’m supporting Orbis, an origination that works to treat preventable blindness caused by conditions such as my daughter’s in some of the poorest regions of the world. Orbis brings a flying hospital to those in need, and perform sight-saving surgeries for children who would otherwise certainly go blind. 

I’m offering family sessions in exchange for a donation to Orbis. Make a donation in lieu of my session fee, I suggest 3000 RMB, but I’ll happily accept any generous donation. And we’ll create a beautiful gallery of images of you and your family. I have four sessions available between now and the end of September. Don't wait!

Get in touch. You can contact me here, my email is ericaknecht@gmail.com. Or on WeChat at erica_knecht.