Help-PortraitThis past Saturday, the first Saturday in Dec., I had the opportunity to work with a group of people doing something that I think is amazing. In the big scheme of world politics, global warming, acid rain, disappearing rain forests, and tense international relations, it's probably not a big deal. But to the individuals who took part in this event, both the service providers and the clients, it was a very big deal.
Have you heard the parable that goes something like this: One day a man was walking along the beach when he came upon another man who was methodically picking up starfish from the sand and tossing them, one by one, back into the ocean. There were thousands of starfish washed up on the beach. The first man said, "Why are you doing that? There are so many starfish that you can't really make a difference." The second man looked at him, bent down, picked one up and tossed it into the ocean. He then turned to the first man and said, "It made a difference to that one".
That's what I felt like on Sat. Here's the deal. Quoted from the website, "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." (italics & underline, mine).
The local organizer set up the studio in Cohoes, NY at the Good Ground Family Church. There were 8 photographers, probably about 15 assistants, and a myriad of other helpers. All of our time was donated. A company donated the use of the pipe and black drape that created the individual "mini-studios", and a lab in Tennessee is donating all the prints.
People are notified about the portrait sessions through helping organizations. They sign up for a time, they come in to get their portrait made and in a week or two they return to get their prints. Some of these people have never had their portraits made, some haven't for a long time. Most of them couldn't begin to afford to pay for such a service.
It was awesome. I'm already looking forward to next year--not that I want the year to rush by, of course.
Something I found very interesting. When I was running my business and photographing groups and families, I would encourage them to consider their clothing choices--hoping they would dress in a coordinated fashion. The clients were paying me money to create these portraits. Most of the time they would complain that they couldn't get their family to agree to dress nicely--and some of the clothing combinations that I saw were truly scary.
Saturday, I'd say that half of the families that arrived for their "free" portrait, came in looking great.
hmmmm, what's up with that?