Photographer Putting Young, but Well-Developed Skills to Charitable Work

Dollars for Dogs provides funding for the Anchorage Police Department’s K-9 program
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 15:43
  • Italia Fraize recently donated $800 to Dollars for Dogs. Courtesy photos
  • Chuigaik resident, Italia Fraize aims her sights on photographs for sale to benefit Dollars for Dogs.
  • Italia Fraize displays her photography and other items for sale to benefit anchorage Police Departemnt’s K-9s.

A Chugiak 11-year-old girl is combining her love for dogs serving as canine police officers and an already well-developed eye for what makes a stunning photograph in an effort to bolster financial resources for the Dollars for Dogs, a local non-profit providing funding for the Anchorage Police Department’s K-9 program.

“I want my parents to be safe at work and police dogs save lives,” Italia Fraize said as to why she donated $800 Monday night at the Dollars for Dogs monthly board meeting.

Italia’s parents are Matt and Angie Fraize who have 15 and ten years of experience respectively as APD patrol officers. Angie is currently assigned to the training academy.

Italia’s interest in photography began when her mother brought work home: Angie was practicing her UI (uniform investigation) skills with a camera at home when her young daughter took an interest in being behind the camera selecting the subject matter.

Italia’s grandmother has a cabin on Lowell Point in Seward where the family often escapes to unwind.  Last summer, Italia started taking pictures. Her family had no idea Italia had such an eye for detail. But her hidden talent quickly developed to be sales quality work and in the process, yet another of the family’s passions became more real for Italia: Fundraising.

Being police officers, her parents are involved in many fundraising projects including The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Alaska. The whole family participates in honor of law enforcement’s support of SOA but also for Italia’s younger sister, Gianna, who has Down’s Syndrome.

“Fundraising just comes naturally to Italia, it is in the family,” Angie said.

Italia’s mom wasn’t too surprised that her daughter’s first solo fundraising effort with her photography would be for canine police officers.

Angie and Matt established a website showcasing Italia’s work and offering it for sale to support Dollars for Dogs.

Italia spends a great deal of time interacting with canine police officers that are partners with and part of the family for friends in the APD. One of Angie’s sergeants was on the Dollars for Dogs board and has allowed Italia to hang out with his canine partner.

When Italia was invited to submit a photo for the upcoming First Responder Arts Show at the Kaladi Brothers Coffee in Anchorage in Jan. 2017, Angie wasn’t surprised that Italia wanted the subject to be a canine police officer. Later this week, Italia has her first shoot with a canine, Angie said.

“It should be interesting. We will see how good she is at capturing something that moves that fast,” Angie said.

Italia looks forward to visually documenting the canines she has admired for several years.

“They can do things that humans cannot,” she said as to why she is such a fan of canine police officers. “They sniff out the bad guys and they do a lot of work.”

Someday, Italia might be working alongside a canine.

She loves dogs, she told The Star. She’s talked about becoming a trainer, but said they don’t make much money, she said. To Italia, the idea of becoming a police officer partnered with a canine was the perfect fit of matching her love for dogs with a career field she already has a tremendous amount of exposure to being the daughter of two police officers.

For now, she is expanding her photography offerings.

Last weekend, she found a nest of baby birds at grandmother’s property. And she took a lot of pictures of their gaping mouths begging for food.

“The birds were really great,” Italia said via a cell phone as she was headed in to a gymnastics class Monday afternoon.

Her work is getting noticed. She has a showing in September at the downtown Kaladi Brothers Coffee. Her website already has “sold” markings on several of her current pieces. There are plenty of vivid offerings still available: From a photo of a train on the Alaska Railroad that appears to be emerging from a track of grass, the old abandoned Knik Bridge in its lonely solitude, a sailboat on Resurrection Bay and flowers from Kauai, Italia’s website features variety.

While the photography sales designed to benefit Dollars for Dogs is a new concept for Italia, giving to the charity is not.

Since her ninth birthday, she has opted to celebrate each year’s milestone by asking party-goers to donate to the cause instead of purchasing gifts.

“Around Italia’s 9th birthday, we asked her what she wanted. Instead of presents, she said she wanted friends to donate to Dollars for Dogs,” Angie said. “So for the next two birthdays, that’s what we did – we had a party with fun and cake, and cards with messages about donations inside.”

Italia’s photography is available for sale online at www.italialena.com.

Learn more about Dollars for Dogs online at www.dollarsfordogsalaska.org.

Connect with Amy Armstrong via email at amyarmstrong@gci.net or online at www.facebook.com/pages/Armstrong-Communications-Words-by-Amy-Marie.

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