By Kim Gharrity, 10-Year Volunteer
If a picture really is worth a thousand words, then Michael Moschogianis has gifted Hammer volumes-worth of text this past year with his wonderful photography. Retired from having his own portrait studio, Michael was looking for a way to make a creative contribution with his photography when he attended a volunteer fair last year at the Mall of America. He went from booth to booth selectively looking for nonprofit organizations that were of interest to him, offering his services and contact information.
Hammer enthusiastically reached out to him, and the rest they say, is history. Over the past year, Michael has taken pictures at more than a dozen Hammer events including: the Annual Meeting, sports banquets, the Family Day Picnic, and Reach for Ralph. He is most comfortable being given complete latitude to find and portray the story to tell, and when you look at his pictures, you immediately see how well he has been able to capture these moments. His photos convey an experience or event with such incredible warmth and tenderness. Though much of this sensibility can be attributed to Michael’s unique vision as a photographer, he also has a special affinity for the Hammer community. Michael had a younger brother Marc, with Down syndrome. He took loving care of his brother in his home until Marc passed away last winter.
Hammer is one of several social service agencies to which Michael donates his services. Among others, he also takes pictures for Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and the Hopkins Education Foundation. As rewarding as these are, Hammer remains his favorite! “The things that keep me coming back,” he said, “are the employees, the work they do and the people they support. The staff is thirsty, savvy and sharp as a tack. The work of the organization speaks for itself. And, the individuals served are the purest people on the planet – no guile, no subtext, absolutely a joy to be around!”
Currently, Michael is working with Communication Specialist Devin Harrington to illustrate personal stories of three individuals Hammer supports in independent living, apartment programs. These stories, along with Michael’s photographs, will go in a larger report for the state of Minnesota’s Olmstead Implementation Plan Office. State legislators, industry experts and a federal judge will be just some of the readers of this report due mid-December.
Well-known portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz once said: “Photography is not something you retire from.” Hammer is very much hoping Michael feels the same way. When asked which of his photographs was his all-time favorite, he playfully replied, “The one I’m going to take tomorrow!”