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Monica Baer Shares Inspiration, Hope

Monica Baer’s photography captures the essence of light and life and often brings a smile to your face.

Now facing metastatic stage four breast cancer spread to her bones and liver, this 30-year cancer survivor sees each photo in her newly co-authored book, Each Moment We’re Alive (self-published, May 2012), as part of her legacy.

Baer produced the book with her artistic sister and good friend, musician Debra Lynn Alt. Now, they’re working quickly to spread its message of hope while directing a portion of sale proceeds to cancer research and support.

The 77-page book is a photographic and musical journey. Baer selected 36 gorgeous photographs to juxtapose against stark white pages, which carry along the lyrics to the book’s title song, “Each Moment We’re Alive.” About five years ago, Alt, a singer-songwriter (and former Branford resident) penned the lyrics for Baer with co-writer Jeff Fuller.

At the time, Baer was Survivor’s Committee chairperson for the American Cancer Society’s North Branford Relay for Life. For its fifth and final year in town, Baer asked Alt to write and perform a song for survivors. The song’s powerful lyrics were moving at the time, but resonate even more now, within the book.

“The synergy of the photos and music is like a miracle. It was not planned,” Alt says.

Underscored by a pink ribbon-turned music clef, the song lyrics unfold line by line, page by page, opposite photos selected by Baer with photo notes below. From sharing the triumph of finally catching an osprey delivering a freshly caught fish to its nesting young to the wonder of a hummingbird painstakingly caught mid-flight in Baer’s backyard, the joyful jump of Baer’s daughter on a Scottish hillside, or simply the awe-inspiring beauty of rolling hills painted with autumn’s palette, “Baer’s descriptions are her reflections of each moment in time,” says Alt, who performs the title song on the book’s accompanying CD.

“I hope to leave this as a legacy,” says Baer. “It’s very important to get this out, to see people reading it, enjoying it, appreciating it. It would make me feel really good to feel I’ve touched the world. Everything I do, I do to give back to the world and make it a better place, and to share my vision of how I see the world with other people.”

A published, award-winning photographer (most recently, two of her images were hung in the San Diego Museum of Natural History’s Ordover Gallery), Baer has a wide circle of friends who’ve been privy to her unique way of looking at life. She also feels blessed to share her life with her husband, Ken, and daughter, Lindsay, 23.

A well-known local Hebrew and religious school teacher, Baer decided in 2005 to fully embrace her dream to pursue her love of wildlife photography.

“To me, the world is filled with so many opportunities to see beautiful images, to see hope. When I have my camera with me, there are so many images I want to capture and to share. Two people can look at the same thing-one person can see everything, and the other, nothing. I’m a person who sees something in everything.”

Finding beauty and joy in the every day is another message Baer sends through Each Moment We’re Alive.

“Some of my most successful images I’ve had were in my own backyard. You don’t have to travel that far to capture the things in the world that motivate and inspire. I want people to smile when they look at my images. I want to motivate and inspire them,” she says. “I want to make them happy.”

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