If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the photos Lindsey Natzic- Villatoro takes are worth a thousand prayers. With a passion for working with people, Lindsey deeply invests in her subjects by getting to know their stories— even the gut wrenching, hopeless ones. Love Song Photography, a God-given ministry, started just four short years ago in search of her niche.
Love Song Photography: Pictures With A Purpose
“I needed a job with people,” says Lindsey. “And not just a job surrounding myself with people, but a job where I could help people in a meaningful and creative way. Maybe in a perfect world, I would be a doctor, but school just really wasn’t my thing.”
So in 2011, Lindsey strapped on her $200 borrowed camera and started a photography business. That same year a dear friend’s husband, German, was diagnosed with cancer. Lindsey felt compelled to step in. As an honor to German, she gave the gift of visual memories to her friend—she photographed German’s last days.
She began taking photos of the stages of his diagnosis, freezing time in a shutter for the family. She captured memories throughout his chemo treatments, with his newborn baby, their last family portrait and final moments in the hospital with his wife and son.
“German will always be special to me,” says Lindsey. “For he is who opened up my heart to create priceless moments for others.”
And with that, the fire was lit. Though Lindsey still did the sessions you would ordinarily expect from a photographer, she knew she needed to combine her gift of photography with her ability to easily interact with people in exceptionally difficult seasons of life. Thanks to her experience with German, Lindsey’s Forever Loved sessions were born.
Capturing the beauty found at the end of a person’s life takes a fragile balance of love and compassion. “I work with people in very unique and delicate circumstances to help them establish memories that will last a lifetime,” says Lindsey.
The Forever Loved sessions spread like wildfire. Not only were these sessions a gift of memories for the families, they were completely free of charge. Lindsey and her husband were funding the sessions—about fifteen a month. Her regular family, newborn and event photography profits were the backing for her newfound love.
“My passion is to capture memories for people in a meaningful way, even if those memories are painful,” Lindsey explains.
But Lindsey wanted to do more.
The Love Song Community
Lindsey realized the impact community can have when she photographed the story of an 11-year old whose father was dying of pancreatic cancer.
Josie Zetz wanted to create memories with her dad before he died—memories she knew she would never get to make with him. Like her wedding day.
So Lindsey threw Josie a mock wedding, where she would get to walk down the aisle with her father. Lindsey’s goal was to lock that moment in time so Josie could play that clip when she does get married in the coming years.
Josie’s tear-jerking story—and a few accompanying photos—went viral. It showed up on on ABC News, The Huffington Post and even People magazine. After photographing Josie and her dad, Lindsey opened her Love Song Photography Facebook page to the public in 2014.
Soon after, a stillbirth story she posted garnered 91 million views. Lindsey realized she had found a soft spot in the hearts of her readers.
Lindsey continued sharing stories on the Love Song Facebook page so supporters could follow her clients’ stories. Like the story of Ashley, who was pregnant when she was diagnosed with cancer after an MRI revealed a tumor in her thigh. She had surgery to remove the tumor, but because of the risk to her unborn baby, Ashley refused chemo.
As Lindsey shared updates and photographs with her readers, she rallied the Love Song Facebook community to pray for Ashley, and pray, pray, pray they did. Literally thousands of encouraging words and commitments to pray for the family came through the online community.
Ashley gave birth to a healthy baby girl, but her condition worsened. As it became clear Ashley’s days were few, Lindsey was there with love and support for her family. She provided Ashley’s family with priceless photographs that became a time capsule of memories.
But Ashley’s story is just one of many about the unique and powerful community. Each client’s story shared on the Love Song Facebook page receives the same overwhelming love, encouragement and prayer.
“I was taught that where two or more are gathered together, God is there,” says Lindsey. “Whatever religion you are, when a situation hits the fan, we tend to pray. Prayer is the universal language.”
Team Love Song
Love Song specializes in keepsake photos with two unique sessions—Forever Loved Sessions and Loved and Lost Sessions. Forever Loved Sessions freeze moments in time so families can remember their loved one’s last days. Lindsey also offers Loved and Lost sessions, which feature unique and artistic arrangements of photographs and personal items of a loved one who has already passed. Love Song exists not merely to photograph clients, but to befriend them.
“Our relationship does not stop with a photo shoot; we walk along with (our clients) on their journey. Because it becomes personal, we do our best to grant wishes, put on memorable events and even help make Christmases special.”
Driven by that passion and compassion, Lindsey took a leap of faith in October 2015.
“I decided God had a bigger plan for me, and I opened a nonprofit, Love Song Foundation,” she explains.
Love Song Foundation is a 501-(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Foundation exists to underwrite the special photo sessions and assist clients in need by raising awareness and funds. From July 2014-July 2015, over a half-million dollars were raised via social media for families in need. Stories of Lindsey’s clients were often featured in local news and even internationally.
The goal in sharing client’s stories is to invite the Love Song Community to support the clients. Those who lean into these stories become a member of Team Love Song, whether it results in sharing monetarily or voicing prayers and words of encouragement. To make it official, you can buy a Team Love Song shirt; all proceeds go toward funding the Love Song Foundation.
This year, Lindsey ran a campaign called Love Defines Us. We are excited to report she met her goal, and due to overwhelming demand, she is planning to run a last chance campaign in January. But donations are always a welcome blessing throughout the year.
Speaking of blessings, discovering this diamond in the rough has truly been a Godsend to me personally, more than just writing Lindsey’s story. I’ve seen Lindsey’s genuine love for her clients rub off on those who follow the stories. Because of her willingness to love sick and dying people, if only for a short time, we get to see love, grace and sacrifice in action.
How do I know this? Because I am now a part of that priceless praying community.