I was recently given the honor of working with a great friend, on a beautiful project. He’s currently in the beginning stages of creating a photo book compiled of people with cleft-lip &/or cleft-pallet. He began shooting his first entries for ‘1in700’ here in Los Angeles, before he decided that Denver would be the next stop. Fortunately, I was able to tag along and help capture some amazing behind the scenes footage.
Not only has this project moved me in ways I can’t describe, it has further educated me beyond what I little I already knew. I am 100% supportive & dedicated to helping bring light to something that isn’t as taboo or uncommon as most people think. Did you know that approximately 1 in 700 babies are born with cleft worldwide? Did you also know that there has yet to be a confirmed genetic reason that causes this abnormality. This is beyond a third-world country epidemic, lack of nutrients, or neglectful pregnancies, everyday children everywhere are born with this genetic anomaly. The most important factor to understand is that “it just happens”.
Aren’t we all different in some way, shape, or form? There are absolutely no two people who are the same, even identical twins have something that separates them as individuals. No matter where you were born, what you look like, or who you love, nothing should stop you from living your life fearlessly. Loving yourself is a lesson that i’m sure at some point, we all had to learn. From some people, it comes more naturally & for others including myself, it takes time and alot of effort to change the way I thought about myself. Now imagine having to learn that lesson with a visible reminder, showing you everyday that you’re different. If you ask me now.. being different is COOL! The problem about being yourself and staying original as a child, is not only the fact that they’re more susceptible to believe what the other children and adults tell them about themselves without question; but the media & overall outside influence only confirms & makes it harder. This is why 1in700 is so dear to my heart; we get to celebrate beautiful people & their great stories from around the world. Our mission is to raise awareness for a cause in-which we hope to further help educate others & make creating a dialogue easier for everyone involved.
Denver couldn’t have been a better kick-off to this project. Not only was I super excited to explore a new place i’ve never been, I was even more excited to meet all of these great people we had lined up. I had no idea what we were walking into, but when I was told the interview slots were filled up in less than 24 hours, I was beside myself. It made me so happy to know that even though we had never been to this place or met anyone, these people were more than willing to be apart of this journey with us. We stayed at the amazing Castle Marne -Bed & Breakfast in the Capitol Hill area. Not only was the experience to-die for, but everyone who worked behind the scenes (owners & others) were so accommodating to our project. We even had the local Channel 9 news make there way over, to do a feature on Zack & the project as well as the first Denver feature and 1in700 team-member Michelle Tonnachio and her precious babygirl Willow. During the next few days, I had the honor of meeting the most joyous, enlightening, and dedicated parents & kids. I met strong & admirable mothers & fathers who gave you no question about what unconditional love entails; children who wear smiles bigger than you can put in a frame. All of this, emanating from people who have or are currently dealing with some type of fight on a daily basis… just like the rest of us.
Head over to 1in700.com to check out the official entry photos & to read more about each of the illuminating smiles behind them!
Until then, check out these ‘behind the scenes’ photos our our Denver round-up.
Joshua & Ezekiel
Berg & Grady
Carson & Jon Jon
Stay tuned for part 2!