A Thousand Words
From a young age, Katie Norris, B.S.F.C.S. ’08, could always be found with a camera. By 2009, Norris had started her own professional photography business. After receiving a phone call from fellow Baylor alumna Kara Wilkerson, B.A. ’05, M.S.Ed. ’10, Norris felt called to begin a nonprofit organization, Fotolanthropy, that would serve families through photography and film.
“I found the courage to start this dream after receiving a phone call from a young Baylor mother,” Norris said. “She called me in tears and said, ‘You don’t know me, but someone said that you could help. My son has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and I would love to have some photographs to be taken of him.’ My world stopped. We all hope to know our calling in life, and I received a literal call that forever changed my life. We served this hurting family, and that was the beginning of Fotolanthropy.”
A few years later, Norris was interviewing Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne about his recovery and life after losing portions of both arms and legs as a result of an IED. Mills is one of just five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive their injuries. Norris’ experience with Mills inspired her to tell his story through a feature documentary. Travis: A Soldier’s Story toured the country and ended up on Netflix, AppleTV and Amazon Prime Video, and it won awards.
Norris’ company has shared 26 different inspiring stories, including two award-winning feature documentaries. Fotolanthropy’s latest feature documentary 7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story — the story of Chris Norton, who took seven years to walk his bride seven yards down the aisle after a life-altering football tackle at age 18 — was recently released Feb. 23, available for streaming through AppleTV and Amazon Prime Video.
Norris has remained very connected to the Baylor Family throughout her career, telling stories of Baylor alums. Her team at Fotolanthropy currently includes four Baylor alumni and has included three others in the past 10 years. Norris was awarded Young Alumna of the Year for 2014, an honor given to a graduate age 40 or younger who has demonstrated remarkable achievement in the previous year.
“Baylor is such a one-of-a-kind community. At Baylor, I was encouraged to pursue my calling and friends and professors poured into me. I left with an instilled sense of purpose and a commitment to find and follow the unique path for my life,” Norris said.