Local photographer Audra Nicole and local charity Operation Lotus joined forces recently to help local resident Alyza Finstein after she recovered from surgery to have a brain tumor removed.

These unique portraits, which became quite a trend in the spring and summer of 2020, raised $350 for Operation Lotus to help Alyza Finstein.

In addition, Brandon photographer Howie Mac offered porch portraits to benefit local charity ECHO. Howie Mac is still offering porch portraits. To learn more, visit www.howiemacphoto.com/distancing-sessions.

Originally printed May 2020.

They say “Every picture tells a story,” and last month, when the world was in turmoil dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, one photographer used pictures to help a local family while telling many other stories.

FishHawk resident Audra Nicole wears many hats. She’s a mom of three, a business coach, photographer and the host of the ‘Mompreneur Marketing Podcast.’

Nicole wanted to do something to create happiness and give back to people during these stressful times.

After messages from her friends about the growing trend of Safer-at-Home porch portraits, Nicole decided it was the perfect way to use her skills. She quickly made the decision to give half of the proceeds she made to a local charity.

“I could give families an opportunity to come together and do something silly, fun or just get a cute family photo for a very affordable price; from a minimum of 6 feet away, of course,” Nicole said.

Shortly after deciding to offer the pictures, Nicole heard about the Finstein family, Starling residents whose daughter, Alyza, had to have surgery to have a brain tumor removed. Operation Lotus, a nonprofit whose mission is to restore hope for people who have experienced a loss or tragedy, was collecting money to help the family.

“It’s surreal. First, to be living through what I call a nightmare is just crazy, but having everyone from our community and Operation Lotus supporting us is just unbelievable,” Jayme Finstein said.

Josh Finstein is extremely thankful for all the help his family is receiving during this very challenging time.

“I have been blown away by how quickly an organization like Operation Lotus is able to mobilize,” Josh Finstein said, “I feel like I could say ‘Thank you’ a million times and it would never be enough.”

For more information, visit www.audranicolephotography.com.

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Libby Hopkins
Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.