News

Photo Contest Leads to Awareness

Date: 01/17/2013

The prize-winning photo, taken by Hannah Lampman.
By Bailey P.

photo by Bailey Pretak
Bailey and Jordan

This summer some of my advanced pointe students and I did a ballet photo shoot. Our photographer was Hannah Lampman, a former dancer at our studio who is now a sophomore in college studying art therapy. We were inspired by the NY Times Bestseller, Dancers Among Us, and discovered that the photographer of that book, Jordan Matter, was holding a photo contest. We submitted several photos and were happy to find that one of our photos was selected as a finalist. Jordan Matter then held an online voting campaign and our photo was the winner!

I never considered that this would be an opportunity for awareness of ichthyosis. I guess it's because I forget I have it most times, haha. During the voting, a comment was posted on the site about my legs. The photographer, a long-time friend, responded to the comment and then I used this as an opportunity to promote FIRST by posting the website on the comment thread.

A few days later, I found another comment and it brought tears to my eyes...

"I love the picture of the girls holding the newspapers best. It was the legs of the beautiful girl on the right that brought me to my decision. Talent is not only portrayed by what is visible, it comes from the heart. I can't see what they look like, but I know they have a passion for the arts...great mystique!"

photo by Bailey Pretak
Bailey and her friend Natalie (right) with Jordan

It was my very own legs, my very own imperfect skin that drew her attention to our picture and caused her to vote for us. I also shared with her about ichthyosis. The prize for the contest was a headshot photo shoot by Jordan Matter. Hannah, as the photographer, was the person to receive

the prize, but she told Jordan to give it to me since it was my idea. Traveling to New York City for headshots by a NY Times Bestselling author/professional photographer is so exciting for me!

I brought my friend Natalie along with me on the trip because she knows how to navigate New York City and I don’t. We arrived in the city a little early so we decided to go to a nearby coffee shop. I walked up to place my order and the barista asked, "Are you Bailey? You're the one who won Jordan's contest?" Imagine my surprise when someone in NYC not only recognized me but knew my name! I was so dumbfounded that Natalie answered for me! It turns out that the barista was the person who had left the slightly negative comment about my skin. After Hannah (our photographer) told her about it and I left the website for FIRST, the barista started doing a lot of research on it. She ended up writing a final paper in college on ichthyosis! How crazy cool is that?! She was so excited to meet me! It never ceases to amaze me how God works. I never even gave it a thought that my skin disorder would be present in the pictures and I never expected this outcome!

photo by Bailey Pretak
Bailey shares information about ichthyosis and FIRST with Jordan

After that excitement we met Jordan. He is such a great guy! I made him a photo book of our ballet photo shoots we did over the summer that were inspired by his work. He loved it so much! And I told him the crazy story from the coffee shop...even he was impressed at how things turned out...influencing people we don't even know. Then he took some headshots of me. He was so great to work with. He really made me feel at ease. He even chose his most favorite place to shoot the pictures. Then he wanted to do a dance picture with me. Just a little bit further down the street was a stand with a bunch of floral bouquets. I stood in a bit of a dance pose with my awesome blue heels smelling a rose and he shot a few pictures. Who knows, maybe I'll end up in a "Dancers Among Us" sequel.

We then went back to Jordan’s studio and he autographed my book. There, I shared with him about my skin disorder and gave him a brochure from FIRST. He was very attentive. He didn't ask many questions but said that he was definitely going to read up on it. He placed the photo book that I made for him on his coffee table right next to his own book. I then talked to his make-up artist about the events at the coffee shop earlier in the day.

It is just amazing how many opportunities for awareness there were from this experience!