Strong Women, Strong Girls is excited this year to be working with a new photographer who knows from personal experience just how important a relationship with a good mentor can be. Dawn Hartman will be capturing images throughout the year that will show the Strong Women, Strong Girls mentoring process in action.
Dawn Hartman, a University of Pittsburgh graduate, is a sole proprietor of her own business, Dawn Hartman Photography. We are excited to have Dawn with us to help tell our story this year because she understands the importance of a good mentor better than most. Dawn has had a mentor since she was fourteen years old. Her mentor came into her life at a time of great instability, when she was struggling with an unstable home, entering foster care, and changing schools. Dawn was in need of an adult who could provide guidance. Dawn and her mentor were paired together through a program called Mentors for Berks Youth and have had a relationship that has lasted to the present day.
“My mentor has been more consistent than any other parental figure that I’ve had my whole life which is really awesome. She has been there for me through years of tough circumstances spanning before I was put into foster care and well after. She’s been wonderful,” says Dawn. Today, their relationship is as much a friendship as it is a mentoring relationship. “My mentor refers to me as her friend and not her protégé, even though she is in her sixties. She talks to me about her home life and her issues and I am able to provide her with insight that she may not get from people her own age, so it has always been a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Dawn is very enthusiastic about having an opportunity to work for Strong Women, Strong Girls. She likes that the organization works with pre adolescent girls, noting how hard it can be for young girls to be happy and successful with so many negative outside influences. “I also really like that there’s a double component to the program, to say that even mentors need mentors. I think that that is my favorite part of it and I am applying to be a mentor myself. A lot of college kids go through the shock of being in school and being very important and involved and then graduating and being one of many with the same credentials competing for a small number of jobs. It is really important to have someone who is a professional and has been there before to help coach them through it.”
Working with girls and women has been very rewarding for Dawn. She knows there is a great deal of pressure for girls to look a certain way and her goal is to capture what is real and help women be happy and comfortable with who they are. “I want to help women redirect their thinking from hiding their flaws to highlighting their strengths.”
When talking about her future with Strong Women, Strong Girls, Dawn says she is eager to properly represent what the organization does through imagery. “Image is everything, it helps strengthen presence, and I would like to use my skill to help the program do that. I want to make sure the images fit the professionalism of the company, and represent it for what it is.”
Strong Women, Strong Girls is looking forward to working with Dawn this year and can’t wait to see what story she captures next!
By Kelly Loose