At Pathways, A Family’s First Portrait

Photo of Dave Dulaney (above) taken by Will Hayes.

 “Ok, y’all ready?”

Dave Dulaney tells the Pathways Center residents – a family of three — posing in front of a white canvas not to be startled by the camera’s flash. The boy’s young friend, sitting at a nearby table, smiles mischievously.

“Alright, one, two, three.”

The camera flashes, and the friend throws his head back and grabs his heart, pretending the flash has mortally wounded him.

The boy posing for the picture cracks up, and Dave’s camera keeps clicking.

A professional photographer, Dave has been taking photos since he was 16 years old. He’s taken free family portraits at Pathways Center for about 5 years now. His involvement at the center began when he took portraits there for a class project while attending Randolph Community College to get his photography degree. (His first degree was in communications.) School ended; his photography work at Pathways didn’t.

A few minutes pass, and the grandmother gently cajoles the young friend – who has continued to say, “doh!” and clutch his heart with every flash — into waiting outside.

“Then you two can play,” she says.

The camera starts back up again.

“How old are you?” Dave asks the boy, as he readies to now take a picture of just the grandson and grandmother.


“I remember 13. Of course, that was 112 years ago,” Dave jokes.

The camera’s flash goes off one, two, three times.

Dave’s subjects settle into a different pose.

“How many portraits have you had done?” Dave asks as he leans in, camera clicking.

The grandmother says it’s the family’s first one.

That statement might have surprised Dave when he first started volunteering, but it no longer does; he’s heard the same thing from other residents over the years.

For these families, a portrait is so much more than just a captured moment in time, Pathways Center Director Steve Sandercock said.

“A family portrait is very special. During a time of transition, it helps to focus on the joys of family,” Sandercock said. “All kids deserve to be able to have their childhood captured – regardless of their families’ financial situation.”

Portrait done, the duo starts to leave, but the grandmother hangs back for a second.

“Thanks so much for doing this,” she says.

Dave tells her it’s been his pleasure; she and her grandson leave. And Dave readies for his next portrait.