Saturday, January 5, 2013

Guest Blogger Meg: On {Quiet} Generosity

Hey there!

While Mere and Dale are busy with the newest addition to the Benfield family, baby Cece (can we get a YAY! Or a crowd wave or something?!). I’d just like to put out into the world that I cannot wait to see who Cece becomes, she has the coolest parents and sweetest/most stylish older sis she could ask for. I have the honor of doing a guest post on this blog. I go way back with the Benfields; Dale was my High School journalism teacher, took my oldest sister’s senior photos when he was first doing photography professionally, which of course led to my senior photos (I’ve never felt like more of a rockstar), they shot my recent nuptials and if you’re an avid reader of this blog you know Dale, Mere, and I are close friends because of this crazy thing I do called Art Feeds.

I think that it’s pretty evident that Dale and Mere are incredible artists just by scrolling up and down this page. Since I’m hijacking the blog for a day and there’s nothing Dale can do about it (muahahah!) I’d like to talk a little bit about how that incredible talent they both have translates to their insides and their amazing hearts. I read some C.S Lewis this morning that made me think of the Benfields. I’m going to tell you a little story about why they are so special.

“Already the new men are dotted here and there. Their voices and faces are different from ours stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin where most of us leave off… They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but need you less. They will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from.” –C.S Lewis on Godly people and generosity.

In 2010, one year into Art Feeds' existence, we had a really wild year. We were up for this huge voting grant. I reached out to Dale, knowing he had grown a huge following with his fabulous blog and asked if he could promote for the grant. He did me about a million better, he responded with not only a “Yes!” but also a “Can I make you a video and take some photos of Art Feeds in action as well?” I was so floored by his generosity. The first ever “good” photos of our programs in the classroom were taken by Dale, he captured a moment I will never forget when one of our autistic students lost inhibitions and danced freely. I was so floored to have this world class photographer in our classroom, documenting our work with the kids when I know how valuable his time is. That is the thing about the Benfields: although their time is crazy valuable, they are generous in giving it in away that doesn’t make you feel like you’re a burden. They don’t draw attention to what they are giving. They are always making time; I’m always wondering where it comes from.

Now fast forward a little to January 2011. I decided to take a leap of faith and expand our programs to Ghana to children rescued from slavery. Dale and Mere made a considerable donation to Art Feeds in the interim, I was gushing thank yous upon thank yous in an email and said something along the lines of “I would love to have you go to Ghana with us to take photos some day! I’ll call you when our budget grows about a 1000 times bigger!” Although I was joking, this was the truth. All children are beautiful, but these specific Ghanaian children who have overcome such tragedy with grace and redemption have a special kind of vibrancy and beauty I hoped could be captured by someone like Dale.

If you’ve followed the blog for a few years, you’ve probably seen those beautiful Ghanaian children. Let me tell you this: our budget did not grow x 1000.

Here’s how it happened: Dale emailed me back and said basically (I’m paraphrasing here) that he’d love to go to Ghana, that in fact, his birthday was coming up and he thought going to Africa would be the perfect Birthday present to himself. He said it so unassuming, like he was actually giving something to himself rather than to me, Art Feeds and the children we work with. He did come, paid his own plane ticket and stay, brought his equipment and gave us the most amazing pictures of the children we love so much.

The rest is really history with a whole bunch of adventures in Ghana strung together in-between. To be honest, that is only a portion of the generosity the Benfields have shown me. I could guest blog until Cece turns 5 on the gifts of time and talents they’ve given. That’s just the generosity I know of to me personally. I don’t know what they have done for the myriad of clients and friends they have. This is because they aren’t boastful. They give with humility- quietly in the true spirit of generosity. Expecting nothing in return. When I think I’m being kind to them, they are actually being kind to me (However, Art Feeds did send a girl dressed in a large pink Africa costume to his front porch singing “Africa” by Toto, but that’s another story, and Dale certainly didn’t travel to Ghana in exchange for that).

I felt compelled to tell you this story so you know the people behind the lens and on the other side of these beautiful photos. When you share your business, family, special moments, events, engagements and more with Benfield Photography, there are not only treasured memories captured, but wonderful, generous and kind people sharing your big moment with you.

Thanks for hanging on as I gush a little about some of my favorite people.
Love you Dale, Mere, Ellie and Cece!

Oh, and to all of you readers, you should definitely book Dale, Mere and Lauren for your Wedding, Engagement and Secret Session (duh).


1 comment:

  1. Meg, you described them perfectly! Your love for them and your friendship shines through in your words. Hope to see more "guest" blogs from you.


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