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Andy Pestana & Sarah Hawkins

Over the past few years, Californians have been faced with numerous catastrophic events, worst among them the fires that have swept the state.

Though faced with terrible trauma, others have come together to support the people and families who have lost their homes and livelihoods to the infernos. People have offered up living spaces, meals, animal care, donations of time and money, and now, in Vacaville, an opportunity to start their treasured memories fresh.

Kristina Claudio, owner of photography business Highlights & Shadows, is offering free photo shoots to those affected by the fires.

“I had many friends and relatives who were evacuated by the fires and saw first-hand the kind of devastation they caused,” said Claudio. “My church always encourages us to think creatively about how to be a light. Even though a couple of months has already passed, there's no time limit in being a light to others. It might be an uncommon way of helping others, but I believe it is still something meaningful.

According to Claudio, it is important for communities to band together to help people in these situations.

“In church, I learned that you are the light of the world, and a city on a hill cannot be hidden. Just like that, an individual can be a light in many different ways, but having the community band together is a much bigger light that can shine to those who need it.”

Craig Pearson, a friend and fellow churchgoer of Claudio, appreciates her selfless efforts, as he himself was almost a victim of the fires that have swept through parts of the state.

“I have close friends who have been evacuated, and others who have lost their homes - I was very nearly evacuated when the fires came within a mile of my home,” he said. I think (offering the photos) is a great idea that will hopefully bring some peace and solace to the affected families. Memories are impossible to replace, but this offers a sort of an opportunity to chronicle the start of something new. When everyone is already feeling isolated because of COVID, there is much more of a need for communities to come together.”

With her enthusiasm and her church behind her, Claudio is looking forward to helping these families with their loss.

“Photography has always been my passion, and I've always wanted to use my passion for something that can contribute to the community,” she said. “My church, San Francisco Zion Church, has been doing a good amount of volunteering in our local community, and I realized it needed to be highlighted. I picked up a camera and began to cover it and other good work and volunteering in the communities around Northern California. The best part of my work is seeing the smiles and the people being helped — knowing that those smiles will be captured eternally.”

For more information or to request a photo session, visit highlightsnshadows.com or follow Claudio on social media at www.instagram.com/highlights.n.shadows or www.facebook.com/highlightsnshadows.official.