A Florida wedding photographer is helping Hurricane Ian victims restore their precious damaged photographs. For two decades, Krista Kowalczyk has been capturing people’s most special moments on wedding days and during family vacations on Sanibel and Captiva Islands in Southwest Florida. But after the area was devastated by Hurricane Ian last month, her business all dried up. "I have weddings that are scheduled for next summer and their venue is not there anymore," she explains. "On an average week, I'd photograph 10 or so families on the beach, and all of those have been canceled."
But now Krista has figured out a way to use her expertise to help her neighbors who’ve lost nearly everything from the storm. While helping to clean up an elderly neighbor’s home that was severely flooded, she came across some water damaged photographs, some dating back more than 150 years, and she saw an opportunity to use her skills to help save people’s precious memories. The next day, Krista and her photography assistant started going door to door asking people if they needed help salvaging their photos damaged by the hurricane. "People were very appreciative just to have somebody come up to their house and say, 'How can I help you,'" she says.
Word spread about Krista’s work to restore damaged photos and she started getting more and more requests to help and an overwhelming number of offers from other professionals across the country to help her in her mission. Now every surface in Krista’s home is covered with photos set out to dry. She’s doing what she can to help as many people as possible and has even added a how-to section on her website on saving flood damaged pictures. Krista is glad she’s been able to do something positive for her neighbors during this difficult time. "It's been a happy distraction to know that I have been helping people as opposed to just sitting there and fretting over what is happening."