I was incredibly honored to receive a call from a producer at ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition asking me to shoot portraits for six people whose lives would forever change when Ty Pennington shouted “Gooooooood Morning, Almquist Family!” The trademark bullhorn surprise happened early today, in the small town of Phelan. And when I finally met the family, and their eldest daughter told me that their prayers had been answered, I couldn’t help but realize that on this day, I was part of something truly magical.

Day 1 of this seven-day shoot involved hundreds of production people and trailers, along with several thousand tons of rural-road dirt (which is currently embedded into every part of my being). It also served as a mini-photographer convention (if you can call a 10-minute visit a convention). The great Bruce Dorn drove all the way from Arizona to photograph the family’s wildlife. And to my utter surprise, my friends Victor Sizemore and Julie Hill were also on site, as they were documenting the events for the construction company.

Much of the day was spent waiting for small windows of opportunity, as the wildlife presented numerous technical and logistical challenges. But the family’s four beautiful children were an absolute delight to shoot, even though I only managed a few minutes with them in between the filming of segments. Images are not allowed to be shown prior to the episode’s air date, so I have no visuals to share with you. But believe me when I tell you that this generous and lovely family truly deserves this wonderful gift. They have spent their lives giving to others (I’ll post more about them closer to the air date), so it’s great to see their lives change in such a wonderful way.

I’ve always loved this show, and have cried numerous times while watching deserving families walk through their new homes. I’m so happy that I was able to be one of the hundreds of people who donate to each and every episode, and that I was able to create something that will hang in this family’s new home. I don’t yet know when the episode will air, but I will be sure to post about it before it does. A big thank you to my colleagues Yoshi Morimoto and Corey Nickols for accompanying me on this long, dusty shoot in the dirt. Corey, thanks for the mohawk. Yoshi, thanks for the Pho.

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