Heart Gallery NYC photo shoot at Bronx Museum

Celebrated celebrity photographer Paul Aresu (l.) photographs a 16-year-old girl named Jasmine during a Heart Gallery NYC photo shoot at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on Tuesday, April 10.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Five foster kids eligible for adoption were photographed by some of the city’s leading celebrity photographers in hopes of increasing their chances of finding a permanent family.

Heart Gallery NYC, in conjunction with the Catholic Guardian Society and Home Bureau, held a professional photo shoot for the children at the Bronx Museum of the Arts at 1040 Grand Concourse on Tuesday, April 10.

The children were photographed by celebrity photographers Paul Aresu and David Yellen, award-winning photographer Fiona Aboud, and Wai Ng, said Heart Gallery NYC executive director Laurie Sherman Graff.

The photos will be enlarged to poster size and used in a campaign to attract potential adoptive parents at outreach events held in public places, including the Concourse Plaza Shopping Center and Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Graff said.

“It acts as a way to attract the public, who see the posters and then who come to the information table we set up at these locations,” Graff said.

“Often, when they see the display, they ask if the children are models, and they are surprised when they are told that they are real children who can be adopted.”

The professional photo shoot is just another way to hook potential adoptive parents, who must go through 30 hours of classes, Graff stated. Bronx Museum of the Arts and Heart Gallery NYC both receive funding grants from the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, and were encouraged to collaborate by the fund, Graff said.

Heart Gallery NYC holds approximately 10 to 20 photo shoots per year with foster kids who become part of the campaign to find safe and suitable homes, Graff said.

Heart Gallery NYC has been in existence since 2006, with the first Heart Gallery being founded in New Mexico in 2001, Graff stated.

The borough is especially needy when it comes to adoptive parents, said Wallace Seay of the Catholic Guardian Society and Home Bureau, who estimates that 55% of all of the children his agency places in foster care come from the Bronx.

High-quality photography can help make the case for potential parents, who often times catch the “fever” and become hooked on adopting, Seay said.

“This is something that has been tried throughout the years, and it is really the only way to go for a child who is waiting for a home,” Seay said.

One of the children being photographed at the event, who can only be identified as Daquan, said that he hoped the bright smile he put on during the photo shoot might lead to him finding a new home.

The experience is especially rewarding for the photographers.

“I have a child who is 14, and I could just imagine how a kid without a home could find it devastating,” Ng stated.

If he learned that one of his photos helped find a family for one of the children, it would be like planting a seed and watching it flower, Ng stated.

For more information about Heart Gallery NYC and about the training programs at Catholic Guardian Society and Home Bureau, call (212) 965-8699 or visit www.heartgallerynyc.org.

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