Reminder: Help Portrait, 12/10/11

From Help-Portrait Los Angeles

Received the following press release from Help-Portrait, which I’m reproducing verbatim. If your photo charity/portrait charity has an upcoming event and you’d like to get the word out, please contact me at — PB





Nashville, Tn –October 27, 2011— This December 10, photographers around the world will gather for the third annual Help-Portrait event. In 2009, Help-Portrait began as an idea that transformed into a movement in just three months.  The idea behind Help-Portrait is simple: 1. Find someone in need 2. Take their portrait 3. Print their portrait and 4. Deliver their portrait. In the last two years, more than 101,000 portraits have been given by 10,000 photographers and 12,000 volunteers. Help-Portrait is now a global movement in more than 1,000 locations in 54 countries.

This year, Help-Portrait founder Jeremy Cowart announced new elements to make Help-Portrait a more hands-on experience for those being photographed.  From the beginning of the Help-Portrait movement nearly three years ago, photographers and volunteers have embraced the Help-Portrait ethos: that is giving, not taking photos. However, this year Help-Portrait is encouraging the photographers to share the photos of those subjects who want to tell their story to a wider audience.

“As the founder of this movement, I felt it was best to not show the photos,” shares Cowart.  “I didn’t want this movement to be about photography. But I underestimated our community – they all instantly caught on to the spirit of Help-Portrait. But now I’m realizing just how much we’ve kept the world from seeing and experiencing what we get to see each year. Now I want to let everyone in our little secret by sharing the photos of those who want to tell their stories to the world.”

Another addition to this year’s event will involve a personalized element. Those photographed will have the opportunity to draw and write on their photos to tell their stories. This provides an avenue for their voice to be heard. See the examples of the photos taken at a recent Help-Portrait event with Cowart at the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

“We believe that the portraits will transform into works of art that reflect their subject,” states Cowart who saw this first hand last week in LA.

In  addition, the Help-Portrait team is encouraging photographers to hand the cameras  over to the subjects and do their own shooting through the lens giving  them a unique opportunity to be behind the camera. It’s never been about  the photographer or his skills or what he has to offer. It’s always  been about connecting with and giving back to the subject.  For more  information on Help-Portrait visit, .

Celebrity  photographer Jeremy Cowart formed Help-Portrait, a non-profit  organization, in 2009 as he contemplated using his skills and expertise  to give back to those who may not have the opportunity for a  professional photo.  The idea is that a photographer has the unique  ability to help someone smile, laugh and return their dignity.  It is a  movement, a shift in photography.  The rapid growth of this organization  is a perfect example of Social Media use for good as the community  shares ideas and stories through the channels of Twitter, Facebook,  YouTube and blogging. Help-Portrait has partnered in the past with  corporations including Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image, creativeLIVE,  Chick-fil-A and Flosites, which created Help-Portrait’s website and  online community.

From  Bangalore, India to Ghana, Africa, the language of Help-Portrait crosses cultural and socio-economic barriers. Even Hollywood has gotten  in the act. In 2010, A-list actors Zachary Levi and Yvette Nicole Brown  volunteered at a Help-Portrait event in Los Angeles and participated in a  live webcast. The online live stream of the main event day from the  creativeLIVE studio in Seattle featured hosts including Help-Portrait founder  Jeremy Cowart, another high-profile photographer Chase Jarvis and Help-Portrait volunteer staff member Annie Downs.

Cowart began full-time photography in 2005 and has traveled to six continents with his talent.  He’s photographed Imogen Heap, Sting, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Carrie Underwood and more. He’s also worked with entertainment clients ABC, E!, Fox, A&E, FX, The Style Network, CMT and others.

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Twitter @help_portrait

POSTSCRIPT: H-P has also released the following video for the 2011 event:

Charity Profile: Help-Portrait



Help-Portrait was founded in 2008 by photographer Jeremy Cowart. In just a few short years, the organization’s presence has ballooned; what started out as a small handful of participants now involves groups and individuals from all points on the map, including the United States, the UK, Brazil, and many other places. Their mission, as they describe it:

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.

And by the way, we don’t want to see your photos. 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.

As with any good mission statement, the above can be condensed to a handful of no-nonsense bullet points:
1. Find someone in need
2. Take their portrait
3. Print their portrait
4. Deliver their portrait

Predictably enough, some photographers have griped about all of this (usually they’re the same ones who spend more time on discussion forums bitching over their manufacturer of choice not updating their favorite camera yet, so they’re jumping ship to (insert name of other manufacturer), wondering whether the time, money, skills and photos could be put to better use. There’s a video at the end of this post that explains the organization and their mission pretty well, but in the meantime, let me say this: if someone’s living in poverty, or just barely making it, one of the last things they’re going to spend money on is having photos done. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not really a vital need. I’ll grant that. But the service provided here — and simultaneously, some part of its genius — is that it gives families and individuals the opportunity to get their portrait done professionally when they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance. Since family portraits are a big thing for some of us, it becomes easy to see why a simple click of the shutter can give someone not just a photo, but also a reminder that they count.

Notice that there’s nothing here that states you have to be a professional, though plenty of professional photographers do donate their time and services. You don’t even have to be a photographer to get involved. Each site typically requires not only photographers, but also people to help with lighting, makeup, general tasks and errands, and people whose job is primarily to look after the needs of those photographed during the shoot. In short: not a pro? No problem. Not even a photographer? They’ll likely find a spot for you, as well.

You can find Help-Portrait in a few places on the web. You can, for instance, follow them on Facebook (your local chapter may also have a presence there), or on Twitter. The real goldmine of information and resources, however, is the organization’s main site, From there, you can find information on the 2011 event (which takes place less than a month from now), read their Mission Statement, a robust Community section,  a blog, and — perhaps most importantly, information on getting started.

Postscript: Here’s a video posted by Help-Portrait that explains, in their own words, what they’re doing: