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Sudden Clarity Deanna Roy took the photo that put Austin-area wildfires into perspective. Now she volunteers her skills for local families. by Narissa Johnson, photo by Joel Salcido “We were driving up Loop 360 near Westlake when we saw the skyline of Austin backed by smoke. “It just didn’t seem that was what it could be,” says photographer Deanna Roy. She had just picked up her daughters from a camping trip cut short by the fires of Labor Day weekend. She was glad they were safe, but she hadn’t realized the magnitude of the fires until she took this shot. That evening she posted a version of the photo on her Facebook page. The image resonated with people and within hours media called to seek the rights to use it. Later she wrote on her blog: “People saw it and realized that this wasn’t a small thing. It’s bigger than the city. I think this picture made people realize — they need help.” As a professional photographer, Roy was often hired to take family portraits for holiday cards. So when she heard about the hundreds of families who had evacuated their homes and barely escaped, she realized they’d probably lost everything, including family portraits.

Now she and a group of photographers from around Central Texas are taking new portraits of those families who lost everything in the fires, to help them start to rebuild. “Even though this photo shows the big picture,” Deanna says, “the story is really about individual lives that were changed; and that’s something you can’t see in the picture.” GivingCity The Recapturing Memories Project

Professional photographers from across Texas are volunteering to provide family portrait sessions to those who have lost their homes to wildfires. Photographers will provide the families with a CD of print-ready images to the families at no charge. For those interested in learning how to volunteer or to be matched with a photographer, please visit

Fall 2011


GivingCity Austin Fall 2011  

The guide to doing good in Austin, featuring inspiring stories about volunteers and philanthropy role models like Homeslice Pizza and Will M...