Kamloops photographers link up for by-donation grad photoshoots to benefit B.C. Wildlife Park - InfoNews

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Kamloops photographers link up for by-donation grad photoshoots to benefit B.C. Wildlife Park

Socially-distanced group shoots are available, and grads are encouraged to participate even if they didn't already buy formal wear. Here, Olivia Busenius (left) is pictured with her friend Jessica Coyle. Photographer Angela Busenius has been given consent from Coyle's parents to share this photo for publication.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Angela Busenius
April 29, 2020 - 7:30 AM

It was difficult for Angela Busenius to see her daughter disappointed about missing her high school prom this year and she decided to do something about it.

Though COVID-19 has nixed the traditional celebrations for high school students nearly everywhere, Busenius is part of a project aiming to bring some normalcy to students left without a prom.

“Being a parent of a grad, you see first hand the impact that this is having on them... You see how sad it’s making them and how big of an impact missing this right of passage will have for them,” Busenius says. “We just wanted to offer them something to smile, something to get their dress or their suit on… I hope it’s something to help them be excited about moving forward in this part of their life.”

Busenius and nine other photographers signed up to be a part of a project that offers by-donation photoshoots for grads who can’t go to prom. The sessions will include five professionally finished photos, and all proceeds go to the B.C. Wildlife Park, which is struggling due to a pandemic-related closure.

“We really value the B.C. Wildlife Park and want to try support not only the local business but also try to support the rehab of the animals, because that’s a huge program,” Busenius says.

Jessie Simons had her
Jessie Simons had her "prom" photos taken by Angela Busenius. Busenius has been given consent from Simons' parents to share this photo for publication.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Angela Busenius

The idea for the project came about from Busenius’ close friend Bonnie Scheller, who also has a daughter who should be going to prom this year.

Scheller is a hobby photographer and got the idea after seeing the by-donation family front-porch photoshoots, and is now organizing the sessions between grads and the ten professional photographers who have volunteered their services for free.

“Some people have said, ‘we’d like pictures with our son and their grad dates,’ so we’ll meet at a park and the parents will be there with the students and everyone will keep their distance,” Scheller says. “We’ve had lots of ideas, one in the front, one in the background, one reaching over but not touching.”

Scheller says no grad will be turned down, regardless of their family’s economic status, and it’s not just teenagers who can use this service.

“We also have people from (Thompson Rivers University) reaching out to us and saying they don’t have an opportunity to take part in their grad ceremonies, so we’re trying to get creative with nurses and vet technicians and whoever else is calling us for this,” Scheller says.

If you want to support this project, you can donate formal wear or consider sponsoring a photoshoot. Students who don't have their prom attire can wear whatever they like, or be matched with a local who will donate a dress or suit for the project. For those who wish to help the B.C. Wildlife Park while supporting a grad, they can sponsor a photoshoot.

To book a photoshoot or support a grad, send Scheller an email.

Busenius was inspired to help with the photography project after seeing her daughter, Olivia Busenius (pictured), upset about missing her prom.
Busenius was inspired to help with the photography project after seeing her daughter, Olivia Busenius (pictured), upset about missing her prom.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Angela Busenius

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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