Senior portraits are treasured images that forever “capture” a cherished moment in time – graduating from high school. But with schools closed due to COVID-19, the “lens” of opportunity to take these prized photos seemed “shut.” But a local photographer teamed up with a local non-profit to “snap” the coveted photos for more than 50 seniors and their family members.
Under sunny skies and with Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill Park as his backdrop, professional photographer Kyle Pompey, owner of Nice Shot Media House, Inc. took photos of seniors from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and other areas.
The free photo shoot took place on Saturday, May 30, 2020, and seniors were joined by their families. The event was organized by Maryland MENTOR, the statewide affiliate of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership in Maryland. The mission of Maryland MENTOR is to increase both the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships.
Sadiq Ali is the executive director of Maryland MENTOR.
“With COVID-19, we saw the lack of senior celebrations,” said Ali. “We saw this as a great opportunity to support young people and families. Our Maryland Mentor team came together with Kyle. We planned out the free photo shoot to be able to commemorate the moment.”
He added, “We were also inspired by a number of virtual celebrations and gatherings happening around the country. We thought Baltimore would be the perfect place to do something like this. With so much negativity, it was an opportunity to put positivity in the air and to celebrate our young people’s achievements.”
Ali talked about the event’s planning.
“We had to take safety into consideration,” said Ali. “Obviously, there is still a pandemic affecting us and other areas around the country and world. We laid out a plan to make sure we had plenty of space for people to line-up, followed social distancing guidelines, and made sure everyone had a mask.”
According to Ali, the event was publicized utilizing social media. Participants registered on Eventbrite.
“Word of mouth also helped a great deal,” said Ali. “Most of the graduates came from Baltimore City and Baltimore County. But we had some who registered who reside in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. There was also a family from Caroll County. The word definitely got out across the state.”
He added, “It was an amazing event. It was beautiful, and the feedback we got made it all worthwhile. Maryland Mentor is a non-profit whose mission is to increase the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships and to close the mentoring gap. We see ourselves as a movement builder for the movement of mentoring. As a result of our work, we are able to work with hundreds of mentoring programs across Maryland and to host gatherings and events just like the free photo shoot.”
Ali touted Pompey’s talents.
“Kyle has been a great supporter of Maryland Mentor over the years,” said Ali. “I have personally worked with him on a number of projects over the years. He’s known for having a beautiful eye for the camera, and is a youth advocate. He was the perfect partner for an event like this.”
Pompey said the free photo shoot presented another bridgeway to supporting youth.
“I am willing to do anything for the kids,” said Pompey who is also a city charter schoolteacher. “I have been doing photography for a while, and I’m at a point in my career where I want to give back to youth. I want to be able to say I invested my time into them, and was a part of their village. They needed some celebration.”
Pompey said he will be 40 in July, and started taking photos when he was 27.
“I was driving down the Eastern Shore and saw an eagle’s nest floating along on shallow water. I wanted to take that photo. That’s what sparked my interest. I brought a camera from a friend, and that snowballed into what I am doing now. I like to catch moments as I see them.”
Pompey said the graduates are able to access their photos by going online.
“Some of the graduates brought colorful smoke bombs,” said Pompey reflecting back on the picture-perfect day. “I also took photos of a couple of twins. The photo shoot was interesting and fun. I really enjoyed myself.”
For more information visit http://www.marylandmentor.net/