I told you I would explain what Help Portrait was, and so I shall.
Help Portrait is a movement of photographers and other volunteers coming together to freely give professional portraits to those who could otherwise not afford them. This video explains it well:
I think it’s easy to take photos for granted. Most of us have so many pictures of ourselves growing up, and most families have at least one digital camera to use (if not one for every person) to document our lives.
But what if we didn’t? What if we had no documentation of who we are right now to bring into the future? To prove that we were here and that someone, somewhere cared enough to preserve the memory of who are?
There are so many people who find themselves in that reality. People who can’t afford to get a professional photograph taken of themselves or of their family. But these people have worth, and they deserve to be remembered just as much as the next person. So to show them that we see their worth, that we care, photographers all over the world get together once a year, set up equipment, and invite the community in for free photography.
They get a cd with all of their digital images, and they get an 8×10 print of their choosing from the photo session. We frame it and deliver it to them. All for free.
Make-up artists, photographers, and volunteers (with people skills and/or organizational skills, especially) gather once a year, all on the same day, and we have Help Portrait.
I wasn’t able to be a part of it last year, though I really wanted to do it. This year, I didn’t want to miss my chance. On December 4th, I got up at 5:30 in the morning and drove to the “Loganville” location (it was really in Lawrenceville) for Help Portrait. I could only stay until about 1:30 (had a wedding that afternoon to attend), but it was really cool to be there for time I could.
You won’t see any photos of the families, because one of the rules of HP is that you respect their privacy by not posting their portraits online.
But I can tell you this: If you help out in anyway at Help Portrait, you will leave with a warm fuzzy feeling. You know you’re helping people get something they really want to receive, and all you really have to do is give your time. And your energy. I was worn out after I left. Maybe because I had to chase a kid who didn’t want to pose back inside from the parking lot where he ran to escape us. His poor mama. He was one of four kids she had with her.
That’s Marcus, above. He was the photographer I chose to assist. Originally, I was set to be a main photographer, but I saw what all the others were bringing to the table and asked to be made second shooter. I didn’t have the expertise or the equipment that these others had, so I’m glad that switch was made! Marcus taught me a LOT about lighting that day. Probably because I kept asking him questions, the way a two-year-old follows you around and says, “What’s that?” “What’s it do?” “Why?” For some reason he put up with me. Thank you, Marcus!
I actually met a lot of awesome people that day- volunteers and photographers alike. Everyone was super friendly and fun to spend time with. I feel like I left with a new group of friends and peers in photography.
I came to Help Portrait to give, and I left with a lot of gained knowledge and new friendships. Funny how that always happens.
I’m not telling you about Help Portrait because I’m so awesome and giving and kind, and you should all be impressed with me. I’m not. I didn’t even stay the whole time. I’m telling you because no matter what experience you have with photography, you can volunteer with Help Portrait next year.
You can be a greeter (signing people in, keeping things running smoothly), a runner (taking families and their SD card full of photos back and forth), a photographer, a second shooter (honestly, you’ll do more of helping pose and making a fool of yourself to get kids smiling than photographing, but it’s fun!), or you could be an editor (making sure all the photos look great and get to the right families), etc. You can do people’s hair and/or makeup to help them feel pretty, or you can just be there with a smile, making sure everyone has what they need and filling in wherever you’re needed.
Or, if time is of short supply, you could just give.
They need money to help supply the frames that the pictures are put in after the shoot. Restaurants donate food for the volunteers’ lunch, printing companies supply the 8×10’s, and someone has to get the cds also.
If you want to see some of the great people I connected with at HP, here are their links:
Joel Taylor (no relation to Marcus)
Wes Brawner – Funny story about Wes. He saw my blog and asked if I used WordPress. I do. He asked what theme. I said, “Standard.” He got excited and high-fived me. I got excited and asked how he knew about Standard Theme. Turns out he was one of the beta testers for it. And his wife is a photographer (didn’t get to meet her because she was home with their three chil’rens), and he said he put her blog together with Standard. Who knew? I was very proud to be married to a member of 8BIT, the team that sells Standard Theme and helped me make that connection. Here’s his wife, Ashley’s, blog. She has some great photos!
That’s just a handful of the people that I had the pleasure of meeting. I really had fun getting to know them all.
And just in case you were wondering, this is NOT just a thing going on in Georgia. It’s all over. This year alone, there were 7,015 volunteers plus 3,559 photographers in 47 states in the US and 46 countries all over the world. There were 54,526 portraits given out (each represents a different family or individual that had a photo session).
You take a photo, but you give so much more. You give back worth, love, and acceptance to each individual.
So now you know. Next year. December 3rd, 2011. Help Portrait. Be there!