Photographer ‘clicks for a cause’

top-story-photographerLeanne Haddad has a soft spot for kids who’ve had a rough go of it.

When a family career change didn’t give her the time to work regularly with at-risk children, she turned her attention to helping them in other ways.

Haddad now runs her own photography studio, Clicks for a Cause, and donates 100 percent of the sitting fees to three area non-profits — the Make a Wish Foundation of Wisconsin, CASA of Brown County (Court Appointed Special Services) and Community Partnership for Children.

The 2005 UW-Green Bay Human Development and Psychology graduate says it is the perfect fit for her current lifestyle and roles as mother, grandmother, spouse, business owner and community advocate.

“I have been taking pictures since I was eight, and was encouraged through the years to open my own business. After my husband, Mike, became president and CEO of Schreiber Foods, I stopped working due to increased responsibilities that accompany his work, but continued working with children in need on a volunteer basis, while still caring for my family and pursuing my passion and hobby of photography.

“Opening a photography business was something I had dreamed about but had never seriously considered until later in life when our children were grown, and we moved into a home that had a detached garage that had great potential as a studio space.”

She and her husband transformed that garage into a two-story studio with natural light. It was at this point, Haddad recalls, that she began to reconsider her preferred return on investment from a full-time photography business.

“I struggled with the thought of marking up prints and doing all the work to make a profit when I felt that we were already very blessed, in so many ways. Then I realized, it doesn’t have to be a for-profit business. I run it as a business, but I donate all fees to the three non-profits. The photo client chooses one of the non-profits, and writes a check out to them, instead of me, for the session fee. I send in the check to the organization with a donation letter from Clicks for a Cause.”

Haddad selected the agencies because of her close history with them.

“Mike and I are longtime ‘wish granters,’ with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which we became familiar with after our niece was granted a wish through the foundation before she passed away at the age of nine. I have been a longtime advocate for CASA, which serves a population that really needs help. These are the children who are abused or neglected and taken out of the home because of it.”

Haddad also served on the United Way’s Community Impact Council for Families and Children, and has been actively following the progress that the CPC has made in the area. All three organizations help children in need in different ways.

The couple has been generous to UW-Green Bay as well, having recently established the Leanne and Michael Haddad Annual Scholarship and the Annual Scholarship for Human Development.

Through the years, Haddad has worked in Head Start and Early Head Start programs both in Maine, where she grew up, and in Green Bay, with Family Services.

“When I worked with these children, I often thought that the couple of hours they spent with me were possibly some of their only good hours in a day. Serving them, giving them that, was what made me happy. These children struggle so much, it’s nice to be that person that can put a smile on their face, and let them know they are important.”

Just through word-of-mouth marketing and a Facebook site, Clicks for a Cause has raised a significant amount of money for organizations that remain close to her heart.

“I have been pleasantly surprised,” she said. “Often times I have been referred by friends of friends, and that is a nice way to work, because we have common ground coming into the shoot. It has been nice to meet a family for the first time at their newborn’s first session and form a nice friendship over the year as they continue to return every few months for updated pictures.”

And leaving a career in psychology or human development behind? Haddad says that very often she draws upon her undergraduate experience to guide her in a specific work situation.

“At nearly every photo session I think about some of those lessons at UW-Green Bay… I go back to classes such as Infancy and Early Childhood class with Illene Cupit, and think about the baby’s development in relation to the photo shoot. Or I think about the positive effect of reassuring the parents, especially first-time parents, that every child is different, that their baby is doing exactly what he should be doing at that stage in life. Every child is different. Even the challenging ones have their great moments. I love to capture those, and I love to hear from the parents when they see their photos from the session and are so excited to show them off to family and friends. I feel like I’m capturing a moment in time for these parents, so they can look back at the pictures and say, ‘Yes, I remember when he was 18 months old and we chased him through the yard, and got those great smiles and fits of laughter from him!’ Kids grow up so fast, it’s great to have those memories preserved.”

Haddad’s favorite clients are infants to children five-years old. Perhaps because her favorite model is her grandson, Vincent (pictured), who has “has had had a camera in his face since birth!” You can see Haddad’s work by searching “Clicks for a Cause” on Facebook.