Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Giving Back With Photography | Help Portrait

Make-up artist, Melissa and me at our Help Portrait event in June.
I have always believed that a simple photograph has the power to make an impact. 

While I wholeheartedly believe that as a portrait and wedding photographer, I am making an impact on my clients lives by helping them to capture fleeting moments, I have also yearned to give back to my community as a whole. Last year, I began volunteering with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which has been one of the most amazing, life-changing things I have done - and has fueled my desire to help more.

Then, a friend of mine messaged me and sent me a link to an article about Help Portrait - a photographic movement whose mission is to simply take a portrait of a person in need, and give it to them.. It’s about more than just giving a photographic print though - it’s about giving hope. 

Anyone can organize or take part in a Help Portrait event - in it’s simplest form, it could be a single person with a camera, taking a portrait of one person. In it’s most complex, it could be a huge event with dozens of photographers, make-up artists, and other volunteers, with refreshments and snacks donated and photos printed on site.

When I learned about Help Portrait, I knew I wanted to organize an event in my local community. I decided that I would like to work with Safe Futures, a New London based non-profit that offers emergency and transitional housing as well as counseling and support services for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence. 

One of the great things about Help Portrait is that you can customize the event to be exactly what you need. Because of privacy constraints at Safe Futures that are in place to protect the residents there, I knew that this would be a smaller scale event with only a single volunteer aside from myself - a make-up artist (who also happens to be my sister, Melissa). In addition to this, I knew I had to print all photos in-house to stay within privacy constraints to keep residents safe. 

I also enlisted support from the community, with baked treats donated by Lucky Girl Bakery, and was able to raise funds for picture frames, photo paper, snacks, drinks and make-up supplies, as well as having the use of a professional quality photo printer.

Our Help Portrait event was held on June 3rd, 2016 and I am so thrilled to say that it went great. We worked with individuals and families, and I can say without a doubt that everyone had a wonderful time. After editing the portraits and printing them, I delivered two framed photos to each individual or family. Although I can’t share the portraits I took, I can share a few behind the scenes shots from the day. 

Thank you so much to all who donated (Jessica at Lucky Girl Bakery, Melissa, my make-up artist, Lisa, who donated the use of her pro-quality printer, and Angie, Dilphia, Eileen, Rosa & Melissa V. who gave monetary donations) as well as the staff at Safe Futures (Annie, Emma, Luanna and Jailyn), who helped me make my vision a reality. I couldn't have done this without each and every one of you.

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