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White Plains Man Launches Charitable Photo Service

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- After a 40 year photography career, Ken Lax said he has realized childhood years spent  thumbing through family photos wasn’t so unusual. Watching his daughter and clients treat albums as a pictorial history to pass onto younger generations inspired Lax to create a non-profit that creates free photo books for low income families.

“The plan is to spend a week with the family and shoot them as they go about their lives. Then they’ll get a book that documents their lives for future generations,” said the 65-year-old Lax, who has lived in White Plains for 10 years. “People get a sense of their future and their past and who they are in the world by a legacy. These photos can help create a legacy.”

The idea for The Portrait Foundation Inc. came to Lax about a year ago. He began organizing the solo operation out of his Katonah studio about six months ago and is in the middle of designing the first photo book for a White Plains family of four.

“It was really what I envisioned it to be, photographing them at home, photographing them at Salvation Army events, and photographing them at school. It’s really lifestyle pictures as well as portraits,” said Lax. “This first family gave me lots of their own photos that I scanned in as part of montages.”

Lax describes the hardcover books as “coffee table quality books” full of approximately 60 photos. Families who may not be able to afford professional photography services and would benefit from a free photo book have been identified by the Salvation Army White Plains Corp. and the Open Door Family Medical Center.

However, Lax said his next step will be finishing the multi-week process of designing the first book and using the jumbo album to attract funding and support for The Portrait Foundation Inc.

“Fundraising, I’ve never done it before. I don’t really know how to beg for money. But, I’m committed to doing this and I can afford to do it as long as I don’t have to travel all around," said Lax, who primarily photographs weddings and family portraits. "It’s more about networking and expanding the project.”

The Portrait Foundation Inc. is currently financed through the New York Foundation for the Arts, however, Lax said he may later consider incorporating and handling fundraising for the organization in house.

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