Last December was the first time that I participated in Help-Portrait. I still remember that sunny day in Southern California inside a community center where I shared a small studio space with 2 other photographers. We shared our lights, gear, computers, and talent that day to shoot and print over a 100 photos. But it wasn’t about us or the other photographers in the building. It was about the less-fortunate individuals and families whose portraits we provided for free. For many of them, Help-Portrait was a rare chance to have a professional photo taken of themselves and their loved ones.
The stories shared with us and across the nation were numerous. Each portrait had a story behind it:
• A former gang member who never had a photo with his young son.
• An elderly immigrant couple in their twilight years.
• A mom who was murdered after she and her children had their picture taken at a Help-Portrait event, leaving only her memories and that picture for them to remember her by.
• A recent widow and mother of four who just had her first-ever family portrait after we were able to combine the late husband’s photo with hers and her children’s.
Help-Portrait is our opportunity as photographers to use our talents to give back. If you haven’t heard about it before, here is a short video that explains Help Portrait is all about.
After three years, 25,000 photographers, 56 countries, 700 events, and giving away nearly 170,000 portraits to those who are less fortunate, the amazing success of Help-Portrait has never been more evident than it is today. But now more than ever, Help-Portrait founder Jeremy Cowart and his small team of volunteers need your help. The amazing growth of this community means that their time and resources have been stretched to max.
Their ambitious goal is make Help-Portrait a household name like The Salvation Army and United Way. That is why in order to take the community to the next level and develop a better support system, they are asking for your donation of $5 or more.
I know firsthand how wonderful this community is and I think that it is important for us photographers to support a cause like this. I’m looking forward to being a part of the December 8, 2012 Help-Portrait event. In the meantime, I have given back with my donation.
Donating is very easy. All you have to do is go to their Donation Page.
To learn more about Help-Portrait, you can visit the Help-Portrait Home Page.
To get involved as a photographer for the upcoming Dec 8, 2012 event, start at Getting Started Page.
Here is the open-letter from Jeremy Cowart:
Dear Help-Portrait Community—
Today is an unprecedented day in Help-Portrait’s history. Please, take 5 minutes to read through this important email.
After three years, 25,000 photographers, 56 countries, 700 events, and giving away nearly 170,000 portraits to those who are less fortunate, the amazing success of Help-Portrait has never been more evident than it is today.
We’ve all worked hard to make this movement a reality. Countless hours, dollars and emotional investments have been made to ensure that people know that they matter…to you…to us…to the world.
The stories have been numerous…
• Prostitutes have quit decades of prostitution after being loved for a day with no judgment and seeing a portrait that represented who they used to be and who they could be again.
• A mom who was murdered after she and her children had their picture taken at a Help-Portrait event leaves only memories, and a picture for them to remember her by. Pictures that Shelly took, and GAVE away.
• The mother of 4 who had recently lost her husband now has her first-ever family portrait after we were able to combine his photo with hers and her children’s.
The list of stories could go on, and they do. You have your own, no doubt. And while these stories are touching, amazing and nothing short of awe-inspiring, we immediately think of the stories that have yet to be written. The people who have yet to share in the Help-Portrait experience. We, like you, want to do more.
But, we need your help.
When Help-Portrait was just an idea, a small team of people rallied to make it a reality. This launch team put countless hours into making sure that the word was spread, events were booked, stats were captured, press was present, ink and paper were provided, and photographers, assistants, volunteers and makeup artists were present around the world.
Since then, the time and demands on the team have increased significantly. We receive thousands of emails, requests and other unique needs (even legal issues) on a regular basis. Frankly, our core volunteer team is running out of time to give because the demands have exceeded our ability to meet the growing needs of our community.
The team has BIG ideas on how to help you, the community, do events much better and more efficiently while reaching a broader base of less fortunate people. Unfortunately, we simply can’t do it all with our current setup.
So, we need you, to help, Help-Portrait.
The time is now to have our community help make Help-Portrait a household name. That means a focused effort and a small central team to better serve all of our event leaders. By taking this next step we can grow to be a powerful household name like the Red Cross, The Salvation Army, United Way and others.
The only way we can do that is if you, the community, step in.
Presently, there are more than 25,500 people in our community. If each of you donated $5US, we could raise enough funds to hire a small team of people while covering some desperately needed developmental costs for our community and donation management systems. Can we say, “Yeah baby!”
Would you please, take a moment and donate today?
Then, help us spread the word via social media using the hash tag #helpportrait. Need tweet ideas? Click here.
Without you, Help-Portrait would be nothing. So, thank you. I am forever grateful, and humbled to be a part of this movement.
Jeremy & the Help-Portrait team