Nicole Starr Photography  |  Saratoga Springs baby photographer  |  Down syndrome awareness and advocacy photographer

In 2010, my best friend's son, Zack, was born with Down syndrome.  I'll never forget the night she told me that her brand new baby boy had DS.  Since then, I've watched his family and all of their loved ones embark on an incredible journey of love, acceptance, advocacy & change to open doors for Zack and other little ones like him who are blessed with that extra chromosome.  We count ourselves lucky to love this little boy who shows us every day that we can change the world together.
 

Zack is quite possibly my favorite kid — besides my son, of course!  He loves books, his little sister, and football. He's a whiz on the iPad, and he has the most infectious bubbly laugh that I've ever heard. He calls me "Auntie Gem," and he gives the best hugs. Oh yeah, and he has an extra 21st chromosome.  But Down syndrome is just that: two little words that do nothing to define Zack, his interests, his dreams, or his abilities.

After years with a front row seat witnessing this beautiful story unfold for Zack's family, I wanted to connect with other local families in the Down syndrome community and hear their stories.  I wanted  to showcase their amazing children's personalities, capture the love, and bring their stories to life with the goal of advocating that we're truly more alike than different.  

In 2015 began gifting sessions to our local DS community for National Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October.  I quickly fell in love with these families and the heartwarming stories that they shared with me.  After sharing their stories on my Facebook page and blog, messages flooded in and I realized how many other people's lives were touched simply by reading these stories and seeing these children with their sparkling eyes, shy smiles, and the pure joy shining on their faces.

Shortly after, I was invited to collaborate with the National Down Syndrome Society in NYC for a huge fundraising photoshoot that brought together dozens of individuals with Down syndrome. Our models all dressed as different iconic rockstars, and we had the best time together capturing photos for the annual NDSS gala. A few of these images were even displayed in Times Square, which was such an honor & such a surreal moment all at once! The best part? I got to share that moment with my best friend, the one who’s son got this whole passion project started. (www.wendyzookphotography.com)

Since then I have connected with nonprofits such as Julia’s Way (www.juliasway.org) to help them spread awareness and advocacy through beautiful photographs. A few of these photo shoots have gone viral and brought smiles & joy to so many people around the world! Definitely check out the Three of Hearts session below for an incredible story and beautiful photographs! This passion project has turned into something that I never could have dreamed on my own, and I truly enjoy every second with these amazing individuals and their wonderful families.  

Ready to fall in love with these cuties and their beautiful stories?  Check out their stories below: