By Shannon Anastasio
On Saturday, Dec. 2, photographer Tanya Paugh of Chasing Smiles Photography took on the role of Santa’s helper, sharing her talent with the community. In the spirit of giving, Paugh recently embarked on a heartwarming mission to spread joy and capture precious moments for families.
Paugh’s journey began seven years ago when her first grandchild arrived, inspiring her to channel her passion for photography into creating lasting memories for others. Although she currently takes photos for fun, she is hoping to make it her career someday.
Operating under the philosophy of “Chasing Smiles,” Paugh wanted to extend a helping hand to her neighbors, especially during a year that brought unprecedented challenges to many. Being a part of several Facebook groups, she found a platform to connect with her community and offer a unique gift that goes beyond material possessions.
Despite facing financial constraints of her own, Paugh decided to give the gift of photography by providing free photo sessions for families. What started as an intention to assist up to five families quickly grew to include an astounding 19 families. Her generous spirit and love for capturing genuine moments led Paugh to share her talent with a broader audience.
Announcing her initiative on social media, Paugh received an overwhelming response when 20 families eagerly signed up for the opportunity to have their special moments frozen in time by Chasing Smiles Photography. Despite the initial plan of limiting the sessions, she couldn’t turn anyone away, demonstrating her commitment to making a difference in as many lives as possible.
Paugh encouraged families to dress in festive reds and greens, embracing the holiday spirit. She welcomed them to bring their own props and decorations, fostering a personalized and meaningful photo session. With a promise of delivering edited copies through Facebook Messenger, Paugh aimed to provide not just a service but cherished memories that families could hold dear.
“Photography is not just a hobby; it’s a dream career,” Paugh said, adding that she was passionate about capturing the essence of each family’s unique style, whether it’s in parks, beaches or the comfort of their homes.
Paugh emphasized the importance of permission, ensuring that families were comfortable with their photos being shared and requesting them to tag her if they chose to do so.
Acknowledging the collaborative effort that made this initiative possible, Paugh expressed her gratitude to Shani Ramkumar for offering her yard as a picturesque setting. She also thanked Sasha Johnson and her 12-year-old son Jasper, who played an integral role in assisting throughout the day, with Jasper even taking on the role of the Grinch. Their dedication and support, despite the sweltering heat, contributed to the success of the project.
Paugh meticulously planned the day, providing times and names for each family and urging them to be punctual. The result was a seamlessly organized photo shoot, with no issues or delays. Even with the largest family of eight members, Paugh and her team worked efficiently, ensuring that every family left with heartwarming memories captured through her lens.
The overwhelming response and the touching stories shared by the families underscored the impact of this initiative. In a year marked by uncertainties, she succeeded in bringing smiles to faces and spreading the joy of the holiday season — a reminder that even in difficult times, a simple gesture can make a significant difference in someone’s life.
As Paugh navigates her own challenges, her dedication to brightening the lives of others shines through. In the midst of personal struggles, she found solace and fulfillment in the stories she heard and the moments she captured. This holiday season, Tanya Paugh and Chasing Smiles Photography truly embody the spirit of giving, proving that a camera, coupled with a generous heart, has the power to create lasting memories and bring communities together.
For more information about Chasing Smiles Photography, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (561) 679-6561 to set up a fun shoot for your family in the future.