Giving Back

Tis’ the season to give back to your community.

I have chosen Help-Portrait to give back to my community.

“Founded by Celebrity Photographer Jeremy Cowart, Help-Portrait is a community of photographers coming together across the world to use their photography skills to give back to their local community.

In December, photographers around the world will be grabbing their cameras, finding people in need and taking their picture. When the prints are ready, the photographs get delivered.

Yep. It really is that easy.

This is about GIVING the pictures, not taking them. These portraits are not for your portfolio, website, or for sale. Money isn’t involved here. This holiday season, you have the chance to give a family something they may have never had before—a portrait together.

Our mission? Our mission at Help-Portrait is simply to equip and mobilize you, the photography community. We want to make sure you have all the information that you need to successful participate in Help-Portrait on 08 December 2012. We want to help you find other people in your area that are wanting to be part of Help-Portrait or have already begun to plan the event. We want you to have the opportunity to give.” (Copied from the Help-Portrait website

We have had an active outreach to our community through a Community Meal that my church puts on once a month.  We provide a sumptuous meal along with a sack lunch to go for later, clothing from the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle, free haircuts by hair stylists who volunteer their time and products, and free dental care through a dental van that comes every month with volunteer dentists and dental assistants.  Two of my children are dentists and both have volunteered to man this van on different occasions.

I watch Jeremy Cowart at a Help-Portrait event in Seattle and decided I wanted to do that in conjunction with our Community Meal at our church.  I ran by some people and got some help with it.  I asked a local photography group if they could help us out with photographers.  We brought our own printers and provided what ink we needed and also the paper needed to print the portraits.  Photographers bring their own equipment.  One man from the church, Brad Wise, has been a mainstay and huge in organizing and providing an abundance of time, energy and equipment to help and yet he lets others have the opportunity of shooting with studio lights and backgrounds.  We have makeup artists volunteer from businesses such as Mary Kay and Arbonne.  Sometimes they are professional and sometimes just volunteer to do what they can.  It is  well appreciated by the ladies who look so beautiful in their portraits as a result.

We have families and individuals sign up for their portrait and issue them a ticket.  The ladies are given the opportunity to get their make up done and then they are escorted to an available photographer.  After their photograph is taken, the families are escorted back to the waiting area while their pictures are being printed.  We give them a 5 x 7 portrait with permission to have copies made.  We put the portraits in plastic sleeves for safekeeping.

Many of the people have not had a portrait done in many years.  Many of the men have moms or children they want to send their picture too.  Sometimes grandparents meet up with their grandchildren for a portrait that will remain very precious to them.  We love to hear stories of how much the portraits mean to each person.

Not only do we offer free portraits to the homeless, but also too Senior citizens, and families on low income.  We don’t turn away single seniors in our church or anyone else who stops by.  Our first priority is the needy.

While the community meal is going one, we wait.  While we wait we practice on each other and have a lot of fun.  It is a great time to make new friends and for newer photographers to learn how to use studio lighting.

Sack lunches are packed to send with each person after the big meal has been served and they are ready to leave.

Many  children volunteer their time to put together sack lunches.

Children have decorated place mats for the diners.

People serving people.  Lots of teens like to volunteer their time to be servers.

I thought the choice of the table decorations along the free book on the table was a little humorous consider the Thanksgiving season.

We serve an average of 150 people every month.  It is about all our room can hold.  Here they are saying the blessing before eating.

In another room, the photographers are all set up and ready to go–waiting for the meal to be over.

One of our volunteer make-up artists.

This lady is so cute.  She was happy to have her picture taken and when I told her about the free portraits in another room, she didn’t wait–she got right up and got her portrait done.

Our set up.  Backdrops and light in five locations and two make-up artists. We had four printers as well.

Above three images are some of our photographers blessing people.

Brian Morris of Mormingstar Creative Group and his wife Cindy brought their  5 x 7 printer which prints our portraits in a matter of seconds.

Soon we will be ending this year and this blog  and what better way to end something than to give back.  Help-Portrait is a perfect way for photographers to give back.  Take a look at their website to see if there is one going on in your community and if not, there are instructions on the site to guide you in getting started.  No need to make it complicated, start small and build, have everyone take a part in helping with organization and providing needed supplies.  Help-Portrait provides all the know how and paper work you might need.

I personally have been very blessed by participating each year in our even and I hope that it grows and grows each year and we reach out to others in our community.

Joanne Thomas

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About ~ ~ joanne.thomas.photographer~~

I am retired, starting a new career. I love shooting portraits. People are so fun and interesting--I try to bring out there personalities and capture them in images. Children are especially interesting little people, who love to tell you all they know and are so uninhibited. I enjoy shooting weddings to capture all the details and emotions of the day. Between photo sessions I keep shooting --to learn, to experiment--to create art. The industry is ever evolving and I want to give my clients the most exciting and lasting images, full of their love of life expressing their personality.
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