Adults're not photogenic? by Jennifer Evans

As she sits in front of me, lovingly cradling her infant, we talk about options for her upcoming session.  We discuss what she envisions her ideal family portrait to look like and how she is thinking of displaying it in her home.  We review potential locations and she tells me about each of her children.  She is excited, but throughout the meeting I notice her fidgeting her hands and the hint of insecurity behind her eyes.  We work out the details and then I ask, "do you have any concerns you wish to bring up?"  The fidgeting stops and I can tell she is struggling with something.... she takes a deep breath and says...

"I love your work, and I'm really excited about this - but I'm not photogenic."

She is not alone.  The majority of my clients come to their consultations with this EXACT concern.  Whether it's about their weight, their nose, their hair...there is something that makes them believe they are unable to look great in a photo. Heck - I share the same insecurities!  Head on over to this blog post where I bear my personal photography fears.

Text Image "I'm Not Photogenic"Can I let you in on a secret?  It's not that you aren't photogenic.  I swear!  You may not believe it, but I can make YOU look just as amazing as the folks in my portfolio!  I'm serious.  My portfolio pictures are of REAL PEOPLE.  They are not models, and many of them had the same worries you.  No - I don't practice magic, I won't perform photoshop plastic surgery and I promise not to put you on the cabbage soup diet before your session.  What I will do is photograph you in a way you've most likely never been photographed before.

Here’s how I do it...

I will LISTEN One of the many reasons I require consultations is to get to know you.  This includes finding out what your hesitations and insecurities are.   When I know up front what you are self-conscious of, I can make a point of diminishing that issue.  Hate your mid section?  I'll use people, props and objects to camouflage it.  Not crazy about your nose...I'll make sure to have you facing forward in many photos.  Self conscious of a double chin?  I have a few tricks up my sleeve that will make that disappear in photos without photoshop or surgery.  Confide in me and let me take the weight off your shoulders by doing what you hire me to do...create amazing imagery!!

We will PLAN I will help you with choosing location, wardrobe, hair and makeup.  I will give you my cell phone so you can send me photos from the store or your closet!  I will plan and customize the session WITH YOU and answer any questions and address your individual concerns.  From posing to props - everything will be strategically planned around your specific needs.

I will PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS Let me worry about where you should place your hands or the angle of the light hitting your face.  I will walk you through subtle posing techniques, show you how to hold your head and make sure your necklace is straight.  I coach you through the nerves and we'll have fun doing it!

I will use my KNOWLEDGE & EXPERIENCE I have been perfecting my craft for quite some time now and all my years of knowledge and experience are at your disposal. I will use it all to create gorgeous portraits for YOU.  From lens choice to posing - you can trust that each and every choice I make will be done with purpose.

I can't tell you the number of times I have had clients in tears at their reveal simply because they actually liked the way they looked in the photographs!

But I don't want you to just believe me blindly.  I mean, I could be lying to you - after all, this is a blog post written by... um...ME!  I'd much rather you head over to Facebook or Google and read what my clients have to say.

Photo collage of Fotoplicity Clients

And you know what?  You don't have anything to lose.  Put your trust in me for ONE session.  I stand behind all of my work with a satisfaction guarantee.  If you come to your Reveal and don't love a single photo I will either offer a reshoot or refund your session fee.  Want to know another secret?  I've NEVER had anyone take advantage of that guarantee!!

So...what do you have to lose?  Schedule a consultation and let's talk!

 [button url=""]I AM Photogenic![/button]

This Couple Is Celebrating Their Two Year Anniversary by Jennifer Evans

This beautiful couple came to me to celebrate their anniversary.  One of the things I loved about these two from the start was their easy-going and fun personalities.  When we met up for our session it turned out to be one of the hottest days in June.  It was sticky hot, but you would never know it from these photos.  The love and connection between these two is palpable.  THIS is why I do what I do.  Capturing interactions and feelings and turning them into artwork, for me and for my clients!  THIS is so much more than snapping photos! Anniversary Session by FotoplicityCouple SessionAnniversary Session by FotoplicityAnniversary Couple

Anniversary Session by Fotoplicity

A Beautiful Maternity Session, East Brunswick New Jersey by Jennifer Evans

This beautiful couple came to me looking to capture this special time in their lives....Maternity Photos by Fotoplicity, NJ While we were planning this maternity session the weather was churning out 40-60 degree days - February was proving to be quite a warm month.  Of course the day of our session Mother Nature decided to throw in typical February weather. I think it was around thirty degrees and even colder by the water where the wind was whipping.  But we were granted a gorgeous setting sun so we pushed through.  In between each of these shots Mom was wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket and Dad must have taken his jacket off and on 15 times!

Maternity Photos by Fotoplicity, NJ Despite the cold, I really couldn't have asked for a more perfect session.  In the end you would never know that it was freezing out.  Their love for each other and their baby couldn't be more apparent.

These two reminded me how much I absolutely love photographing expecting parents.  There really is no other time quite like this.  The love, wonder and hope that an unborn child provides is simply amazing and beautiful!

Maternity Photos by Fotoplicity, NJ Maternity Photos by Fotoplicity, NJ Maternity Session by Fotoplicity, NJ Maternity Session by Fotoplicity, NJ Maternity Photos by Fotoplicity, NJ

I'm getting real and 90% of women will on. by Jennifer Evans

I'm going to be honest here - this may be one of the most difficult blog posts I've ever written.  Why?  Because I'm going to share that insecure side of me that I keep deeply hidden.  The only comfort I have is knowing that every other woman in the world shares many of the same insecurities and hides them as deep as I do.  So today, right now, I'm going to do the heavy lifting for all of us. Social Media....

I think most of you will agree that it is both a blessing and a curse.  How great is it that we get to communicate with family, friends and acquaintances near and far on a daily basis?  We get glimpses into their lives that we would not get if social media did not exist.  On the down side, this atmosphere of voyeurism has created a fake perception of reality.

From Instagram to Facebook we are constantly bombarded with everyone's seemingly perfect lives.  Jane just got married to the most amazing guy, Sarah's children are gorgeous and never misbehave, Tara lives a life of luxury traveling the world for her dream job and Christy just lost 25 pounds doing Crossfit and looks ridiculously fantastic.  What we don't see are all the life clips which have been selectively edited out.  Jane went on hundreds of horrific dates for YEARS before finding "the one", Sarah's children whine, cry and throw temper tantrums just like everyone else's, Tara spends 1/2 her life at airports and hotels and is extremely lonely most of the time and Christy has had more downs then ups on her very long health journey.  We don't see this because most folks curate their lives on social media and portray only the news-worthy good.

I GET why people do this - heck, I do it too.  Who wants to know that my morning was shit, I screamed at my kids, had a fight with my husband and am wearing two different colored socks today?

But here is the problem with our social utopia.  When we see these perfect lives day in and day out we start thinking that something is wrong with us and our imperfect lives.  This is especially true when it comes to our self esteem.  Let's be honest - how many selfies do you need to take before you find that perfect one?  The one where you look 10 pounds thinner and your expression is perfect?

Social media may be more of a detriment to us women than fashion magazines ever were. At least with the fashion magazines we could just blame the editors for using only use size 0 models.  We can't do that with social media.  Social media shows us REAL people - one's we know personally!  This increases our need to measure up more so than ever before.

I see it every single day.  Women everywhere are beating themselves up about their physical appearance and non-perfect life.  We are in an ever lasting quest to find the perfect makeup, hairstyle, diet or exercise program to improve our exterior (and therefore our interior) and we are HARD on ourselves.  Really hard.  Unrealistically hard.  Damaging hard.

Here's Where I Get Real....

I am guilty.  I turned 45 this year.  FORTY-FIVE!!!!  I'm at the top of the hill, getting ready for the decent.  Crap.  This year I spent a small fortune on expensive makeup, wrinkle creams and other magical treatments that promise to reverse (or at least hide) the signs of my aging skin and body.  Over the past few years I have successfully gained about 20 extra pounds.  Between the age and weight, I struggle with mirrors every damn day of my life.

Last week I started advertising for a Mother's Day Makeover Session.  In my post I say how as Moms, we need to take time and embrace ourselves.  As a photographer I am constantly boosting women's self esteem by capturing beautiful images of them - images they didn't think were possible....but you rarely catch me on the other side of the lens. Ok, I'll admit - I'm a hypocrite.  As a matter of fact, I typically HIDE from cameras.  Show me a picture of myself and I spiral down the "I'm fat, old & ugly" hole.  It took EVERYTHING I had to suck it up and get the PhotoPass when we went to Disney because I knew that meant I would be in every picture.  EVERY PICTURE!  Ugh.  Ugh.  Ugh.  (In the end I did it, but not for me, for my kids - because that's what Mom's do, suck it up and do it for the kids, right?)HW STUDIO

The truth is, aside from Disney, my family hasn't had formal pictures taken in years.  Want to hear my excuses....  (they may sound familiar)

"I'll take family pictures when I lose the weight." "I don't look good in photos." "I hate seeing how old I look." "I'm afraid I'm going to hate myself more than I already do." "I don't want to see that double chin."

Terrible right?  If I'm not willing to even take family photos, how can I ask women to invest in pictures of just THEM?  Yup, I'm a hypocrite.

Let's play psychologist and analyze this.  I KNOW that I am my own worst enemy.  Sure, I need to lose some weight, but I've always been on the heavier side and that never stopped me before - there has to be something else.  You know what the problem is?  Like so many other Moms I put myself LAST.  Before I had kids I spent more time on myself.  I took the time to blow dry and style my hair every single day.  I took time to apply my makeup nicely.  I spent money on a nice wardrobe and I wore heels. HEELS!  Ha!  I took time to enjoy a paint class, go out with my friends for a drink, had date night with my husband.... And you know what?  I was CONFIDENT.  And that confidence is EVERYTHING.  Nowadays I rarely style my hair, my makeup application is a joke and my everyday wardrobe consists of sneakers, yoga pants, a few pairs of jeans and a handful of comfy shirts and sweatshirts.  The worst thing...I hadn't had a haircut in almost a YEAR!  That's just ridiculous, isn't it?  Last week, after months of procrastinating I finally splurged and got a haircut.  And you know what?  I walked out of that salon feeling like a million bucks.  I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window and actually stopped to take a second look.  I haven't felt that good in a LONG time.  And that was JUST a haircut!

The A-Ha Moment....

The bottom line is that we can feel good about ourselves TODAY.  NOW, if we let ourselves.  We need to stop comparing ourselves and our lives to our friends and family on Social Media.  We need to dedicate that time and energy into ourselves and our own families.  Focus on what makes us happy and not care about what others think or do.  When we do that something magical can happen...

Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready for my work day and blow drying my newly cut hair, I decided to go full out and take the time of doing some detailed makeup. I swear adding a touch of mascara can be face altering!  The hair and makeup inspired me to pull out a pair of my favorite jeans and instead of going for my comfort shirt I put on a camisole and a fitted jacket.  I finished the look with a pair of heels.  I can't remember the last time I wore HEELS.  (By the way, when I say heels, I mean 2" heels - that's my limit).  I grabbed my coffee and walked out the door feeling better than I have in forever.  I had a lighter step and a smile on my face.  I felt CONFIDENT and ready to conquer the day.   And when I got to work, do you know what I did?  I took advantage of my studio set up and faced my fear of the camera and had myself a little Glam Mom Photo shoot.  I mean how can I ask other Moms to dive in if I'm not willing to do it myself, right?

I'll admit, doing a self -photoshoot is not an easy task.  Trying to nail posing on a timer, without seeing yourself is more of a challenge than you would think, but I managed it.  And here are the results.


2017-03-20_0001 2017-03-20_0002

Taking these pictures of myself in this more positive state of mind allowed me to focus on appreciating the things that I DO LIKE about myself instead of focusing on all the things I DON'T LIKE.   I love my hair - I'm 45 and that is my natural color.  My eyes are a pretty cool mix of green and brown and change with what I'm wearing.  Yeah, I need to lose weight, but I don't look half as bad as I beat myself up over.  Most importantly - I realized that if I put a little more energy into myself my whole attitude is better which directly and positively affects my family.  When I'm happy my family is happy.  When I'm confident I'm teaching my kids to be confident.  When I'm happy and confident my husband gets to enjoy the woman he married!  And once I start feeling better about myself I am encouraged to make more positive changes in my life.

The Walk Away

I encourage you to look within yourself and find that self-confidence that has been buried.  Grab it and bring it out.  Forget what Jane, Christy, Tara and everyone else is doing or what they look like and celebrate YOU, as you are, right now.  Take a little time each day to do something for YOU that will make YOU feel good.  Stop all the negative self-talk and appreciate the positives instead.  And if you're like me, STOP fearing the camera.  Grab your kids and your significant other and strike a pose!

You are worth it.

WARNING: This article may offend your LinkedIn or Website Profile Image... by Jennifer Evans

WARNING:  This article may offend your LinkedIn or Website profile image!

I know, I've all heard me preach about the importance of a good headshot.  I promise, I'm not going to talk about that in this post (although it's true!).  Instead, I'm going to dive into what actually makes a headshot a good one.   After all, if you don't know that, how can you determine if yours needs updating or not?  Believe it or not, just because it was taken by a photographer doesn't mean it's good.

I'm going to admit something somewhat embarrassing.  Sometimes, when I have some time to kill, I go on LinkedIn and browse profiles.  Why?  Because as a photographer I am in constant search of improving my craft and one of the best ways to do that is to look at the work of others and learn from it.  For me, that means learning what to do and learning what not to do.  When it comes to headshots, LinkedIn is chock full of learning opportunities!

Unfortunately, LinkedIn is full of lots and lots of very bad headshots.  Now, when I say BAD, I don't necessarily mean bad portraits.  Actually, I see some very nice professional PORTRAITS of people but just because it's a nice portrait doesn't mean it's a good headshot.  YES, there is a difference - and it's a big one.  Oh, and for the purposes of this article I am not going to cover the use of selfies or random cropped event photographs that people use - those go without saying... those are not headshots and shouldn't be used as such. Period.


  • Good, professional lighting
  • Sharp and in-focus
  • Technically sound photograph
  • Focus on the head (no body)
  • Confident & friendly expression
  • Accurate portrayal of the person & their personality
  • Complimentary posing of the body
  • An image that makes a statement
  • Attention to detail (hair fly aways, straight collars, appropriate clothing choice, skin tones, etc.)


Since I don't want to use random LinkedIn images, I'm going to use some of my own work to demonstrate.  Let's look at these two images.  ArtisticWM


Both of these images are great portraits.  The lighting is good, they are technically sound, images are sharp and they are both shot from the shoulders up.  Both images show a very friendly and happy woman.  But one is a portrait, the other is a HEADSHOT.  So this one is probably obvious....the top one, while a beautiful portrait, is a very BAD HEADSHOT.  Why?  She isn't looking at the camera.  We don't see her eyes.  And while she is obviously happy in the photo, by not looking at the camera we can't really "see" the person.  Eye contact is important for connection - even in a photograph and especially for a headshot.  Another problem with the top image is the editing.  The matte look and low lighting makes this a much more artistic photograph than a business oriented one.  Now let's compare that to the bottom image.  THIS is a good headshot.  Her smile is nice and friendly but the look she is giving exudes nothing but pure confidence.  Her hair is neat, and her makeup is clean.  You can't help but FEEL that this woman knows what she is doing.  This photograph makes a very strong statement and demands your attention.  THAT is EVERYTHING!


What do you think?


I love this photograph!  Technically it is on point.  But is it a good headshot?  No.  Not even close.  This is a glamour or contemporary portrait.   Yes, she looks Ahhhmazing.   She is smiling and she is confident as heck.  But this image should never be used as a professional business headshot.  Why?  Well, to be blunt - it's just a touch too sexy.  She has movement in her hair, the makeup is a touch too glam and the way her lips are poised make it "un-professional".  The confident look is a different kind of confidence than what we want in a headshot.  Although I will say that if this was a creative headshot (for an actress), this would be fine to add to her portfolio.  Acting headshots are very different than business/corporate headshots - but I will not go into that here.   When it comes to a business professional, this shot is not acceptable.

The Nitty Gritty

Ok, now let's get down to the nitty gritty details.  As with anything, it's the details that truly make a difference.  Take a look at the two images below.  There is no denying that both of these are strong headshots.  They portray one very confident professional.  Honestly, either of these would make for a fantastic LinkedIn profile picture, but which one is better and why?DoctorWM copy

Doctor Headshot

I suppose that is kind of a trick question, because without knowing this woman you can't really answer it.  Let me explain - the better image is the one on the bottom.  Why?  Simply because her hair is up.  Why does this matter?  Because when she is at work, she wears her hair up 100% of the time.  It is a true representation of her.  If you run into her on the job, you will see the woman in the bottom picture - not the one in the top picture.  But BOTH images are important for her to have because most professionals have a need to portray different versions of their "brand".   When we took these, I recommended the top image be used for any sort of formal self-promotion she may need (if she needed it for a brochure or such), but the bottom image was the one we both preferred for her online presence.


There is a lot more to a good headshot than you think.  If you are serious about your personal brand it is extremely important that you find a photographer who understands the difference between a portrait and a headshot and can coach you into achieving the strong, friendly and confident look you need to stand out from the rest.  Serious headshot sessions take time and experience.  Remember, just because a photographer takes a nice portrait doesn't mean they can take a effective headshot.  When in the market for a headshot photographer please do your homework.

Here are few tips that should help you:


  • Quality Photographs: Lighting, sharpness, accurate skin tones are extremely important.
  • Consistency: Look at their portfolio.  You want to find someone who can produce the same results time and time again.
  • Professional lighting equipment: Find someone with a professional studio set up.  They need professional lights and understand how to use them to produce excellent results.  One of the biggest "mistakes" I see is a nasty glare in glasses.  This can be avoided if the photographer knows how to work with their lights!
  • Realistic Retouching:  Sure, we all want to look like super models, but a headshot needs to be REAL.  Headshots should NOT look "photoshopped".  It's one thing to remove a blemish and a few undereye circles, another to make someone's skin look like a newborn baby's bottom.  There is no place for that in a good headshot!
  • Accurate Representation:  People should look like themselves!  Expressions should be genuine, not "posed".  It takes a good photographer to eliminate the natural anxiety that most of us feel in front of the camera and instead exude GENUINE confidence and friendliness!
  • Posing: Even though headshots are typically shot from the shoulders up, posing is still important.  You can spot a slump a million miles away.  Stance can affect expression.  A good headshot photographer will work with you to find the right pose that highlights your best features.
  • Creative Headshots vs. Corporate Headshots:  An experienced headshot photographer understands that there is a different headshot need between these two professionals.  Acting headshots require a lot more looks and a large variance of expressions compared to the businessman/woman.
  • Price:  Good headshot photographers aren't charging $50 or less.  It takes a lot of hard work and training to be able to produce consistent, excellent headshots and good photographers charge accordingly.  A reputable headshot photographer typically charges between $150-$300 for an in-depth session with a handful of images including business licensing.  Don't be fooled by the Target $19.99 headshot specials that have you in and out in 10 minutes.  Remember - you get what you pay for.  When it comes to your career, the investment may very well be worth it!

Now that you know what makes a good headshot, why not go and evaluate yours.

I'm not going to apologize if I offended your headshot image because if I did, I know that I did my job and provided you with the information you need to make it better!!

If you are in Central New Jersey and wish to learn about Fotoplicity Headshot Sessions you can contact me HERE.

Mother's Day Makeover - 2017 by Jennifer Evans

Motherhood is beautiful. To your children and your husband, the love, care and courage that it takes to be a mother are treasured and appreciated. However, the reality of a busy life means that us Moms don't often FEEL beautiful.  Let's face it - after cleaning up messes all day long, doing several loads of laundry, preparing and cooking meals and working, most women don't feel they are "glowing".  Instead they just feel exhausted and, well....a mess. This Mother's Day, why not indulge in a fun makeover and photo shoot?

Glam Mom

Only $300!

Includes Hair, Makeup, Photo Shoot & $50 Print Credit!

APRIL 30th & MAY 7th


We'll start off with a full hair and makeup makeover by Rachel from Rocky's Hair & Makeup.  She'll spend some time not only making you feel amazing, but providing some simple skin care and makeup tips along the way.  When your makeover is finished, Rachel will provide you with a sample product for you to take home with you!


Once Rachel finishes up, Jennifer from Fotoplicity will get your confidence soaring by taking photos of you that are worthy of a magazine cover.  You'll receive wardrobe suggestions BEFORE the session and during the session she'll spend time coaching you through stances and expressions and offer you posing techniques that you can use whenever a camera is present.  Most images will be taken from the waist up, however there may be a few 3/4 or full body.  If you booked back to back sessions with a friend or family member we'll be sure to get a few photographs of the two of you together.


Hairstyling, makeup & a 20-30 minute model photo shoot.  Hair & makeup tips from Rachel along with a product sample and posing techniques from Jennifer.  Once the session is over, Jennifer will choose the best 5-8 images from your session, expertly retouch them and place them into an online proofing gallery for you to view.  You will be given a $50.00 print credit and a complimentary web-resolution magazine cover (shown above) for social media sharing. You will be able to purchase digitals, prints and products directly from the online gallery.

Sessions are $300 per person.  Sessions are restricted to clients 16 years of age and older.  


Before you even start, I'm going to stop you.  DO NOT talk yourself out of this.  So what if you have 10-30 pounds to lose - so what if you just had a baby - and don't even convince yourself that you are not photogenic.  Let me tell you something - with the right makeup, hair and photographer we will melt your insecurities away!

Sample Makeover This Mom just had a baby 8 weeks prior when she came in for her makeover.....who would've known?

Book With A Friend, Sister or Mom! If you book with friend, sister or Mom we will take some photos of you together!


Choose the date and time you want.  

NOTE:  There are two spots for each time to accommodate those who are booking with a friend or family member.  The actual makeovers will happen consecutively but we do invite you to enjoy each other's company while waiting.  You will have an opportunity to take photographs together.

A Pine Barrens Enchanted Maternity Photo Session by Jennifer Evans

Introducing Enchanted Maternity Photo Sessions!

If you follow me, you are probably familiar with my Enchanted Photo Sessions for children, but what you may not know is that I offer these magical photo sessions for Maternity Clients too!

This Enchanted Maternity Photo Session was done in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.  Originally scheduled for 4pm, we had to move the session up because of a heavy thunderstorm that was in the forecast.  While noon-day photo sessions are not ideal, they are doable if the location and lighting is right. Thankfully, we lucked out with both!

For this specific session we shot in two different locations.  One with an empty road and beautiful lake and the other with a gorgeous stream.  Between the gorgeous locations, the beautiful family and the stunning dress I couldn't be happier with the final images.

Maternity Photo Session by Fotoplicity in New Jersey Family by the lake, portraits by FotoplicityMaternity Photo Session by Fotoplicity in New Jersey Maternity Photo Session by Fotoplicity in New Jersey Maternity Photo Session by Fotoplicity in New Jersey Maternity Photo Session by Fotoplicity in New Jersey Enchanted Maternity Photo Session by Fotoplicity in New Jersey Enchanted Maternity Photo Session by Fotoplicity in New Jersey

Are you interested in learning more about an Enchanted Maternity Session?  Please fill out my CONTACT FORM.

49 Years & Counting! by Jennifer Evans

Married 49 yearsThe longly-weds know

That it isn't about the Golden Anniversary at all,

but about all the unremarkable years

that Hallmark doesn't even make a card for.

It's about the 2nd anniversary when they were surprised

to find they cared for each other more than last year.

And the 4th, when both kids had chickenpox

and she threw her shoe at him for no real reason.

And the 6th when he accidentally got drunk on the way

home from work because being a husband and a father

was so damned hard.

It's about the 11th, 12th and 13th years when

they discovered they could survive crisis.

And the 22nd anniversary when they looked

at each other across the empty nest, and found it good.

It's about the 37th year when she finally

decided she could never change him

And the 38th when he decided

a little change wasn't that bad.

It's about the 46th anniversary when they both

bought cards, and forgot to give them to each other.

But most of all it's about the end of the 49th year

when they discovered you don't have to be old

to have your 50th anniversary.

married 49 years, photos by Fotoplicity, Central NJI have to tell you that this session was quite possibly the cutest couple session I've ever done.  These two classy folks met in Europe many years ago, fell in love and never looked back.  They are in their 49th year of marriage and this session was a gift from their daughter in celebration Dad's 80th birthday. Happy Birthday Geoffrey! married 49 years, photos by Fotoplicity, Central NJ married 49 years, photos by Fotoplicity, Central NJ married 49 years, photos by Fotoplicity, Central NJmarried 49 years, photos by Fotoplicity, Central NJ married 49 years, photos by Fotoplicity, Central NJmarried 49 years, photos by Fotoplicity, Central NJ married 49 years, photos by Fotoplicity, Central NJmarried 49 years, photos by Fotoplicity, Central NJmarried 49 years, photos by Fotoplicity, Central NJ

Autism Awareness Day - Sharing Some Special Stories by Jennifer Evans

Autism Awareness Day Have you noticed a lot of people wearing BLUE today?  That's because people, businesses and landmarks are donning the color all around the world to raise awareness.  Today (April 2, 2016) marks the eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day.  Autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events.

This year I had the opportunity to get involved in one of these amazing projects.  The Stories of Autism Project is a network of professional photographers with the mission is to increase awareness, acceptance, and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorders through fine art portraits and stories.

Several months ago I was contacted by Maria McQuay, one of the coaches of the Jersey Hammerheads (a swim team for children with autism).  She asked if I would be interested in participating in this project by photographing her son Michael as well as the team.

I'm proud to be one of the 17 photographers who donated their time and talent to the project this year.  Here are the photos and stories that are featured in the project. [columns] [column6]

Michael was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was 6. Michael is 19 years old and he is currently attending MiddlesexCounty College as a Liberal Arts major. He hopes to achieve an Associates Degree.
Michael is such an amazing young man and an inspiration to so many. When he was first diagnosed we were not given any hope that he would flourish the way he has. We never gave up on our son! We knew we had to advocate for him and more importantly educate ourselves regarding what he was entitled to. Michael is more than his diagnosis.
Autism is just a part of who he is! He is a son,grandson, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, animal lover and aSpecial Olympics National Gold Medal winner in swimming. He has always loved swimming and we were fortunate to begin our ownSpecial Olympics swim team called the Jersey Hammerheads which he is a part of. He wanted to continue swimming so he tried out for atypical swim team called Rutgers Scarlet and he made the team! He has been doing really well and all of the coaches at Scarlet are great with Michael!
As I stated before, Michael has a passion for animals. Last summer he was given a great opportunity to work at the Turtle BackZoo in West Orange, NJ. This is where Michael is most comfortable besides the water. He loved working at the petting zoo feeding and taking care of all the farm animals. He hopes to return this summer.
We were so grateful he had this opportunity to show people that despite having a disABILITY he can succeed and contribute to society.All of our children need to be given an opportunity to show what they can do!
Maria, mother of Michael East Brunswick, NJ

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Jersey HammerheadsSpecial Olympics Swim Team
The Jersey Hammerheads is a swim team for the Special Olympics of NJ.The unique thing about this team is that 97% of the athletes have an Autism SpectrumDisorder. Although these amazing athletes have a disability it does not hinder them from wanting to participate in sports and be part of team. They all work very hard at practices to be the best that they can be despite their disability.
Special Olympics of NJ has given ourathletes an opportunity to display how talented and committed they are. As one of the four coaches for this team I can truly say we are all so proud of every member of. They all work hard and they never give up. But more importantly they support one another. The true meaning of sportsmanship! What really matters is that they are all having fun and they are part of a team. Our athletes matter and should be included not excluded because of their disABILITY!
Go Hammerheads! East Brunswick, NJ

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If you have a moment, I encourage you to visit the Stories of Autism website, there are some truly amazing stories to read!  Oh, and if you aren't already, wear something blue today!