By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN When Linda’s Photography of Delano was chosen as the official photographer for the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” project in St. Paul, owner Linda Motzko was excited for the opportunity to help a family in need.
“I literally took the whole week off,” said Motzko, who teamed up with her daughter, Megan, and good friend, Scott Wyberg of Golden Valley.
The home makeover was competed in October, and the show is scheduled to air Sunday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. on ABC.
The reality television series provides home renovations for families all over the nation that have faced hardship of some kind.
All the work is volunteer, and Motzko said she was honored to be able to contribute.
“If we were asked again, we would do it in a heartbeat,” she said.
Motzko photographed the design work, the family, the building process, and other aspects of the project. The photographs have been distributed to newspapers, designers, vendors, government offices, and to everyone who helped with the home makeover project, Motzko said.
“We were a huge part of recording those memories,” she said. “Some of our images have probably gone international.”
The builder, TJB Homes in Blaine, was the company that asked Motzko if she’d be interested in doing the photography work. Two years ago, Linda’s Photography helped with a home makeover project in Plymouth with the same builder.
For the St. Paul project, the home of Sandy Morris and her family was chosen. Morris runs a day care from home and is highly involved in volunteer work in her community. She charges just enough at her day care to support her family, and doesn’t turn children away if their parents don’t have enough money.
“Parents pay what they can afford to pay,” Motzko explained.
Although Morris’s day care was highly successful and sought-after, without the home makeover, it would have been shut down because of the home’s poor structural condition.
The mothers of the children in Morris’s daycare didn’t want to see that happen, so they nominated her home for the makeover.
While crews were demolishing and rebuilding the home, Morris and her children spent the week on vacation.
While doing the photography work, Motzko said she got to know Morris’s extended family, which lives in the same neighborhood.
“We ate lunch with them, and were adopted as part of the family for the week,” Motzko said. The family is originally from Puerto Rico, which was exciting for Motzko, because that is where her own grandfather was born.
“It felt like extended family to me,” she said.
Motzko and her team took photos of each day of the project. She said that the atmosphere and energy during the entire rebuilding process is intense.
“It’s like a beehive of white helmets and blue shirts,” she said. A project of that magnitude takes an incredible amount of planning, coordination, and hard work, she added.
“The best part is watching the framing go up on the house,” she said.
Watching the Morris family come home to their new house was also amazing, she added.
“When they come back, it’s lined up with thousands of people clapping and cheering,” she said. “The first thing you see is their expressions when they see the house,” she said.
Linda’s Photography added professional photos of the day care children and the family to the inside of the Morris’s new house. The large, framed wall hangings are a keepsake for the Morris family.
“That made it really, really exciting and special,” Motzko said.