This past weekend I took some time away. Time away from friends, from family and from anything else I could potentially do on a Saturday to volunteer for a great cause called Help Portrait. This the second year I've participated and this year was just as rewarding as the last. Here's how it works:
First, you find someone in need. Take their picture. Print it and give it to them. That's pretty much it. Oh, and you do all of these things in the same day, for free.
This year, we were at a small church called Humanity Baptist Church in Newark. As I rolled up, I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes since I was the first one there. It was 11:00. Shortly after, Jarvis (the organizer for this event) along with several others arrived. I got out to introduce myself and help bring some things in. Once we got setup, people began to arrive and it was already noon. I was on the edit/print station again this year which is a tough spot, especially at the end of the day.
For the participants, they would enter and immediatlely be paired with a greeter which would explain how things work, have them fill out a permission form for using their photos, take them over to a hair/make-up person if they so desired, escort them over to have their pictures taken and then make sure they knew where to go to get their final product (that's where I come in). I would grab the files from the shooter, import them, speak with the family for them to pick one they want to have printed. Once the selection is made, I clean up the image and print it. If the family chose to, we would print a second image for them on matt paper for them to write a message. This is one example shown to the left.
Of course, I'm leaving a few things out. The patience of the families, the good spirits of all that were there and the great feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. One story that stuck out was a family that asked to have their picture taken but couldn't make it to the church where we were setup. So, a few of us went to them. The picture was of a little girl (about 10) that had breathing tube and wasn't expected to live much longer. She gathered with her mother and father for a special family portrait. Very sad but a great example of the power of photography capturing that moment for that family.