Introducing the vision for the 2011 Help-Portrait event on 10 December 2011. Founder, Jeremy Cowart, explains how we’re doing things a little different this year.
First, welcome to the 505 new members that have joined within the past 10 days. We’re honored that you’re a part of our community and the international movement of Help-Portrait.
Leaders—I need your help.
We’ve been using this community site for the past two years of Help-Portrait and we’re running into a problem: the groups are out of date and inconsistently titled, making it difficult for new members to find groups and get plugged in. Here’s where you come in:
1. Please update the title of your group to the following format: City, State/Providence, Country – 2011
Here are the instructions on how to make that change:
- Go to group home page
- > Options
- > Edit Group
- Make change to group name
- > Save
If the group you are using no longer has an active owner or admin, please email us at email@example.com and send us a link to your group along with the name of the new leader. We will make that change for you.
2. If you are leading a group, we need to hear from you TODAY!
Please take a moment to fill out this form so we can contact you for potential local press opportunities, donation processes, and other miscellaneous needs.
Finally, we realize that many of you aren’t using the community site as your group gathering place. In the best interest of new members, please be sure your group is registered on the community site so that new members can easily find you.
Thanks again for all that you are doing to help make this years Help-Portrait the best yet.
Check out this inspiring guest post at digital-photography-school.com. A traffic accident left Shaun bound to a wheelchair. As part of his therapy, he was encouraged to take up a creative hobby.
Photography has become an emotional outlet for Shaun in the past six months. He talks about the challenges and benefits he’s receiving from it, and has some advice for able-bodied photographers as well.
“My photos are not as technically brilliant as many of your authors – but that’s not what photography is about for me,” he writes. “For me it is a part of getting well and celebrating life, something I never thought I’d do again.”
We recently announced some big changes to Help-Portrait. 1. We’re going to start showing the photos if the subjects want us to. 2. We’re going to have them draw and write on their actual photos and tell their stories. 3. We’re going to hand the cameras over and let them do some shooting.
I’m so excited to show you what this looks like, finally.
I ran a small Help-Portrait event Sunday in downtown Los Angeles at what’s known as “The toughest block in the U.S.” We were at the Union Rescue Mission at Skid Row. I’m new to LA and had no idea what to expect. But I was excited about trying all our new ideas this year: showing the photos, telling the stories ON the photos, having people sign model releases, handing the camera over, etc…
Here’s how each went:
Handing the camera over: Easy. No-brainer. They loved it. I had several people telling me about how they had wanted to be a photographer in the past but had to give up due to their situation. Their eyes lit up when I told them that they could be the photographer this time. It was a big deal and made me really excited to hand over my camera…
Showing their photos: Every single person happily signed a model release. (We’re absolutely okay if someone doesn’t want to. We will always respect and honor those wishes.) But each person was almost giddy at the idea of their photo being splashed on our website and on the Internet. In fact, some of them asked me to “promise” them it would go online. They asked for our web address and wanted to know when they could see themselves on the Internet (we’re working on a solution to that right now). Just like the photos themselves, this is also something we take for granted: having our photos online. It’s very special for someone to have a nice picture online that they can send to relatives, etc., especially in time for the holidays. This new direction was a big hit.
The stories on the photos. I printed at least two pictures of every image – one for them and one for us. For our picture, they wrote something ON the photo. I told them to write anything. Literally anything. Whatever the day meant to them, or whatever they wanted to say to the world or about themselves. This was their chance to speak their minds. I don’t have to explain how powerful this was. You can see for yourselves below.
With all these new additions, it made it very clear that this year is going to be more special than ever. I cannot WAIT to see the stories and photos that emerge from your events in a few weeks.
From the beginning of our movement nearly three years ago, photographers and volunteers around the world have embraced the Help-Portrait ethos: that is giving, not taking photos. 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. And you all have gotten that – really gotten that – since day one. It’s been amazing to see such a generous spirit permeate these events around the world.
Because of that, countless stories have emerged. From families who have never had their portrait made together, to mothers and daughters reconciling, to rehabilitated men starting a new life symbolized with a picture …. Help-Portrait is rife with stories of hope. The stories that Help-Portrait events generate make up the most magical and meaningful part of this movement. And we’ve neglected to tell them. Until now.
(I, Jeremy, as the founder of this movement, felt it was best to not show the photos. I didn’t want this movement to be about photography. But I underestimated you and the rest of the community. You all instantly caught on to the spirit of Help-Portrait and I’m so grateful for that. But now I’m realizing just how much we’ve kept the world from seeing and experiencing. This year, I want to let them in our little secret.)
On that note, we have three big announcements to share. (Please keep in mind that these are simply ideas and options for your event, and by no means mandatory to be an official Help-Portrait event.)
1. This year, for the first time, we’re going to allow for the photos to be shown, if our subjects want them to be.
Now before you get too panicked, hear us out.
Simply put, we’ve been hiding the magic of Help-Portrait. We’ve kept more than 100,000 portraits and 100,000 stories all to ourselves. Now imagine how our movement would grow if we shared these photos and stories? The movement spreading = more lives being impacted. That’s our singular goal.
And of course, if anyone does not want their photo shown for any reason, we will completely honor that request and keep the portraits private. In addition, portraits will never be sold or used to make a profit.
We’ve seen in years past that many people WANT to tell their story and share their photos. For the first time, they’ve seen themselves in a new light. They’re proud and WANT to let the world know how far they’ve come. We want to allow them to do that!
We’ll follow up with complete details about how to share the photos in the coming days. One requirement is that they must have the Help-Portrait watermark in the bottom right corner before posting or sharing. We’ll give you everything you need.
But let’s not just post pictures on the Internet, let’s truly make this a party and celebrate these stories of hope, reconciliation and reunited families!
2. This year, let’s let our subjects take the photos!
That’s right. Put your camera on a tripod or just simply hand over your camera. Let a child take a photo of his mother or vice versa. Let a former gang member take photo of his friends. Let a sick child take a portrait of her friend. Let them take a photo of YOU, the photographer, for fun. Let’s encourage creativity and let our subjects discover the pure joy of photography, and let’s encourage them in their gifts. This isn’t about us anyway, right? So why do we need to take the photos? Let’s be the teachers, not the photographers, this year.
3. What if instead of just filing people through the line and having their portrait made, we invite them to stick around and tell their story ON their actual photo?
This is a new vision for the actual portraits that we’re excited to tell you about.
Imagine doing a Google Image search of Help-Portrait and seeing thousands of portraits pop up and each photo has a simple story told on it by the person in the photo. Just a couple lines… “Reunited mother and daughter after 30 years of separation”… or “This portrait represents the new me and where I’m going”… or “I’m going to beat this cancer.”
Or maybe the photo just has a simple drawing on it or something funny. Maybe the subject wants to draw bunny ears on themselves or their favorite number of their favorite athlete.
What we’re saying is: What if Help-Portrait now becomes an art project?
Kids can use stickers, glue, glitter – whatever inspires them. Markers, pens, paper … words, phrases, stories … there are no parameters here. Just bring your art supplies and provide them with whatever you can. We believe that the portraits will transform into works of art that reflect their subject.
There are a couple ways of going about this:
And of course, they don’t HAVE to do the art project. If they just want their portrait as usual, that’s okay with us as well.
Whew. So that’s it! Big changes huh? We couldn’t be more excited. It’s a new direction but the principle remains the same: This isn’t about us. Let this truly be a collaboration between the stylists, photographers, volunteers and the beautiful people we’re serving that day. Let’s break the walls down. Let’s pull out all the stops and make this a year that changed everything.
-The Help-Portrait Team
Just 12 women have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in history. But this year three women will share the honor. Arab Spring activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen (left), Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee (right) and Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (center) were named by the Norwegian Nobel Committee “for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.
“We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.”
I think we can all think of one person to add to this today.
Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)
H-P founder Jeremy Cowart recently did a fine art video for POTSC, and we thought you’d like to see it and learn more about this incredible group.
This film is what People of the Second Chance is all about: the beauty of radical grace in the midst of evil and darkness.
If you’d like to learn more about the movement, click here and check POTSC out on Twitter and Facebook. POTSC also invite you to take the conversation (and video) to your own blog, and let the world know how the video made you feel. Submit links to your blog below the video, and be a part of the bigger conversation!
In this new PSA from ONE, Bono, George Clooney, Jessica Alba, Idris Elba and more unite behind a new campaign to help focus the world’s attention again on the famine and food crisis in the Horn of Africa.
Sign this petition to send U.S. Congress this message:
The famine in Somalia has killed 30,000 children in 3 months. In 2011 we have the opportunity to make famine a thing of the past. Lives are in your hands. Please fully fund Feed the Future and help break the cycle of famine for good.