RED SWEATER PHOTOGRAPHY is a business started by myself, Ellen Swalley, in 2014. The picture on the left is of me and an orphan in Addis, Ethiopia. I've always had a strong pull to do mission work in Africa, and in 2009, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Ethiopia for a month with a group called Mocha Club. At this particular orphanage, some of the kids running around were wearing red sweaters. I asked one of our translators why some of the kids had red sweaters on and others didn't. After he inquired of an orphanage worker (who didn't speak English), he told me that if a child was wearing a red sweater, it meant they had been given a bath. There were so many kids in the orphanage, that the sweaters were how they remembered which one had gotten a bath or not. It was a way for the workers to keep track of the kids. I was broken over this, as I couldn't imagine living in a situation where the person caring for me didn't know if I was given a basic thing, like a bath.
This trip to Ethiopia is also where I had the privilege to serve alongside a professional photographer, and watch her every move (in a non-creepy way). Seeing the pictures she took was inspiring. I've always had an interest in photography, but it was truly elevated during that trip, and then really kicked into gear a few years later when I had my first baby, and realized all I wanted to do was take pictures of her all day long cause she was so stinkin' cute. I decided that I not only wanted to take pictures of her, but anyone else that would let me, as there is something completely beautiful about capturing everyday moments and telling a story through them. When coming up with a name for my business, the vision of those orphans running around in red sweaters always stayed with me, in particular this little guy in the picture, as he was drawn to me, and I, him. If I had my way I would have smuggled him home with me! I have a huge heart for adoption, and always have. My trip to Africa, as well as other mission trips where I've worked with orphans have only fueled the fire that was already a part of me. Adoption is a beautiful picture of what God, in His great love for us, has done in our lives. He has adopted us as His own. My husband and I intend to adopt within the next few years, and a portion of the funds generated by RED SWEATER PHOTOGRAPHY will go towards our personal adoption funds, as well as to adoption ministries we support.