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Stafford photographer encourages young people to be part of the political process with her "Get Out and Vote" project
Sisters Kristen and Linnea Musselman arm wrestle over their differing political views.
BROOKE DANIELS PHOTOGRAPHY
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By CATHY DYSON
Brooke Daniels didn't want other young people to blow off their first Election Day like she did.
She was a student at Auburn University in Alabama when she turned 18 and was eligible to vote. She didn't think it was worth her time to drive 2 hours home to Atlanta.
"I realized how silly that was, and I've voted in every election since," said Daniels, now 33 and the mother of two. "I see how important it is, not just to vote, but to know the issues and to have a sense of which candidate offers the best future for you and your family."
In her quest to help other young people avoid the mistake she made, Daniels turned to her camera. "That's my answer for everything," she said.
She's a photographer who lives in Stafford County and specializes in senior-class portraits and glamour shots. Through Facebook, she put out a casting call of sorts, asking first-time voters, ages 18 to 23, if they'd like to be involved in her "Get Out and Vote" project.
The deal was that she would do creative, cutting-edge portraits of the young people, making them look like the Statue of Liberty or a model for a military recruiting poster. Then, after the young people cast their ballots--and sent photos of themselves with their "I Voted" buttons--she would give them the free full-size digital images of themselves.
The models already have posted smaller images from the photo shoot on their Facebook pages, and their enthusiasm has created a ripple effect that Daniels didn't expect.
"Every day, I've been receiving new messages from first-time voters in Virginia who I don't know personally," Daniels said in an email. "It's incredible to see how these images have traveled via Facebook and are reaching more and more people."
'MY DUTY AS A CITIZEN'
For the last couple of years, Lauren Pinkston has "wanted to vote so bad," she couldn't stand it. When she finally turned 18, she was excited to have a say "in the election and my government and my life and everything."
Being included in Daniels' photo shoot was icing on the cake.