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Photographer's portraits of burned homes after Marshall Fire help families heal

Most people lost their treasured photos when the fire burned more than 1,000 homes.

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — When the fire burned homes, most people lost their treasured photos, but a photographer is trying to build back those personal collections to help survivors heal and show off their resilience.

Katy Tartakoff came to Max Petersen's property in Louisville on Wednesday as he sifted through what was left of his home after the Marshall Fire ripped through his neighborhood.

"I think a lot of people think it is a weird idea to have photos on their land that has been destroyed because it was their life," said Tartakoff. "If I can show people some of the beauty within destruction that is great."

She is documenting the strength of the human spirit and helping fire survivors keep a record of a life-changing moment. Petersen wanted to look back on the photos taken by Tartakoff and remember how much he and his fiancé had overcome. 

"Having a symbol of that for yourself is a good token, heirloom, you can keep," he said. "And remember that if there are hard times ahead, I have already been through hard times."

Peterson found one stone dice he gave to his fiancé on an anniversary. They lost nearly everything else to the fire. Finding something though is hope for the couple. 

Credit: Katy Tartakoff
Marshall Fire photography project

"Tired, really tired," he said. "But I am surviving which is good."

Tartakoff has completed several sessions with families so far since the Marshall Fire. She's offering an 8X10 mounted photo from the property and an 8X10 mounted photo in her studio for free.

She is also hosting a fundraising art show on April 30 and May 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to donate 25% of the proceeds to survivors of the Marshall Fire. Ten artists from the Central Park Artists Organization are participating. The show will be at Studio 800 located at 800 E. 19th Ave. in Denver. 

If you would like to have a portrait taken on your burned property, you can call or text Tartakoff at 303-520-9587.

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