Life through a lens

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A Queenstown photographer has a plan for “paying it forward” to help out families like her own.

Mandy Keep’s elder son Max, eight, was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome at 15 months.

The rare genetic condition causes heart defects, developmental delays and other conditions.

Before moving to Queenstown in 2015, the English-born mother of two boys lived in the United States for 12 years, where Max’s condition inspired her to do community photo projects.

The first, in 2012, was ‘Peace Baby’, for which she positioned 38 newborn babies into a peace symbol and photographed it.

“It took two months to plan, five minutes to take the picture.”

She says she got into photography after Max was born, when she was less than impressed by the results of a professional photo shoot for him at a mall.

It has become her calling, and she now wants to deploy her skills to help local families.

“Because I have a son with unique challenges, I want to work with families who can’t afford $500-$600 photo shoots.”

She’s offering a free, all-inclusive photo shoot each month for a child or family.

Her goal’s to empower those families with new community connections, all while giving her the opportunity to meet like-minded people.

She also has plans for fundraising photo shoots for community organisations like Happiness House, Jigsaw and The Salvation Army.

Painting is her other love. She takes weekly art lessons, and explores her favourite themes of children, music and spirituality.

She’s also painting local scenes, and is building up a portfolio of works she would eventually like to publicly exhibit.

To contact Mandy, email her at mandykeepphotos@gmail.com

ed@scene.co.nz