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.

Til then!



Posted on Oct 25, 2011  |  Category: H-P Organizers, H-P Tips  |  51 Comments
  • em em

    this is absolutely beautiful. so excited about this.
    em | 25/10/2011 5:00 PM

  • adhit adhit

    i love the idea, that's wonderful thing
    adhit | 25/10/2011 5:06 PM

  • Dan Falvo Dan Falvo

    Love it. !!!
    Dan Falvo | 25/10/2011 5:08 PM

  • Ivona Ivona

    I love this...love everything about it. The mother/daughter photo got to me...
    Ivona | 25/10/2011 5:09 PM

  • victoria mitchell victoria mitchell

    i can not wait to see the action here in Nashville! super pumped :)
    victoria mitchell | 25/10/2011 5:13 PM

  • Dani Dani

    God bless you all
    Dani | 25/10/2011 5:13 PM

  • lise lise

    lise | 25/10/2011 5:17 PM

  • david david

    Great twist to a great project.
    david | 25/10/2011 5:19 PM

  • Eric Eric

    Awesome... what a great way to give back. Can't wait for this year!
    Eric | 25/10/2011 5:19 PM

  • Heather Heather

    What an awesome thing to do! Just made my day seeing this and the good you have done.
    Heather | 25/10/2011 5:19 PM

  • Jack Jack

    This is much more inspirational than thanking the photos and just giving it to them. I love it.
    Jack | 25/10/2011 5:34 PM

  • Erin Erin

    Amazing! How empowering.
    Erin | 25/10/2011 5:34 PM

  • Andre Andre

    This is awesome. Really looking forward to the big day!
    Andre | 25/10/2011 5:40 PM

  • Sohail Khwaja Sohail Khwaja

    most wonderful idea. Kudos.
    Sohail Khwaja | 25/10/2011 5:42 PM

  • jana jana

    amazing. so beautiful and powerful it made me cry. keep up the good work.
    jana | 25/10/2011 5:59 PM

  • Kari Nichols Kari Nichols

    I don't know any of these people, yet can't wait to see the next picture & read the writings of each one of them! You do such important things, and they're all based out of the perfect place in your soul!!! I would love to be a part of this someday soon!
    Kari Nichols | 25/10/2011 6:08 PM

  • Tara Leigh Tara Leigh

    This is incredible. I love their faith! So encouraged by the people in these photos.
    Tara Leigh | 25/10/2011 6:10 PM

  • mightymission mightymission

    mightymission | 25/10/2011 6:10 PM

  • Gail Gail

    The portraits tell part of the story, the messages tell more--wonderful idea!
    Gail | 25/10/2011 6:34 PM

  • Leroy Skalstad Leroy Skalstad

    With all the hardships that come from living on the streets the one thing I remember the most is the loss of individuality. Thanks Jeremy for helping raise awareness that each person is a unique soul. Leroy, Formerly homeless Vietnam veteran .
    Leroy Skalstad | 25/10/2011 6:46 PM

  • Jorge Ivan Jorge Ivan

    I am no longer associated with the photographer who introduced me to your project. I do remember however that there was an agreement with an entity that had agreed to donate 8 X 10 prints. It might have been Wallgreens. Is that still in place? I'm considering offering my services and recruiting make up people and maybe hair stylists but can't afford the printing costs. Please advise. Thank you.
    Jorge Ivan | 25/10/2011 6:49 PM

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    We Could All Take A Lesson From JEREMY - Kari Nichols Photography | 25/10/2011 7:19 PM

  • z. lynn z. lynn

    z. lynn | 25/10/2011 7:44 PM

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    Help Portrait 2011 « Portnoy Media Group | 25/10/2011 7:57 PM

  • Jen May Jen May

    It was definitely an incredible event--looking forward to doing it again on Dec 10th!
    Jen May | 25/10/2011 9:30 PM

  • Stewart Uy Stewart Uy

    For a few years now I"ve been taking portraits of the homeless people i've come across and was able to spend some time with. I love what you're doing here and I praise God for putting into your heart reach out to those who are looked over. I wish I had the materials to allow people to write on their photograph! That idea is genius!!!
    Stewart Uy | 25/10/2011 11:06 PM

  • Daralynn Daralynn

    This is awesome!
    Daralynn | 26/10/2011 12:53 AM

  • Branden Harvey Branden Harvey

    I love this.
    Branden Harvey | 26/10/2011 1:16 AM

  • Ivan Boden Ivan Boden

    Ivan Boden | 26/10/2011 2:12 AM

  • Scott Huck (@scotthuckphoto) Scott Huck (@scotthuckphoto)

    this is fantastic! I can't wait to participate again this year!
    Scott Huck (@scotthuckphoto) | 26/10/2011 2:15 AM

  • che roa che roa

    SUPERB! <3
    che roa | 26/10/2011 2:17 AM

  • Kathy Fulton Kathy Fulton

    The BEST!! So inspiring and honest.....beautiful!!
    Kathy Fulton | 26/10/2011 3:44 AM

  • Holly Holly

    Holly | 26/10/2011 4:28 AM

  • Richard Danter Richard Danter

    Richard Danter | 26/10/2011 9:08 AM

  • Teena McMichaelname* Teena McMichaelname*

    LOVE IT !!!!! This is a wonderful idea! Whoever thought this one up deserves a medal. May this help many, mant ppl. And open the eyes of those who can help.message*
    Teena McMichaelname* | 26/10/2011 12:59 PM

  • Mark Bush @ Catchlight Photography Mark Bush @ Catchlight Photography

    I'd love to see this done in Evansville! Count me in!
    Mark Bush @ Catchlight Photography | 26/10/2011 1:10 PM

  • Lilimar Lilimar

    WOW!!! Amazing how much a stranger can teach you if you take the time to listen to their story.
    Lilimar | 26/10/2011 2:48 PM

  • Connie Riley Connie Riley

    GREAT pictures & stories of how GOD is working in their life. Thank you for sharing this. I want to help in DALLAS area, just day and time hasn't worked out. I want to take pictures. Blessings
    Connie Riley | 26/10/2011 3:43 PM

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    Thank You All Who Have Signed-Up! | 26/10/2011 6:32 PM

  • Shannon McFerren Shannon McFerren

    NOW I'm excited! This will touch them, but God will touch me more, I have a feeling.....
    Shannon McFerren | 26/10/2011 8:28 PM

  • Juli L. Juli L.

    This is so wonderful! Thank you to all of you for sharing. What beautiful people! :)
    Juli L. | 26/10/2011 8:40 PM

  • Jenny Hansen Jenny Hansen

    Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! You guys are truly amazing! Such an inspiration!
    Jenny Hansen | 26/10/2011 9:02 PM

  • Matt Carter Matt Carter

    I loved seeing all of these photographs with each person's unique individual touch. Thank you for doing this. I know it's encouraging to not only the subjects of the photos, but also to myself and everyone who sees these images. Thank you for serving and glorifying God the way that you do through Help-Portrait!
    Matt Carter | 27/10/2011 5:57 AM

  • Charlene Chavez Charlene Chavez

    This is great to lift up their spirits and remind them they are people and that they matter no matter what their story is!
    Charlene Chavez | 27/10/2011 5:28 PM

  • ~AR ~AR

    Awesome! Love the idea! The personalization of the portraits is extremely moving! I'm going to talk this over with the other photographers that are doing the event I'm doing the H-P event with this year, and I know we're going to use some of these ideas! Great job! Do you happen to have a PDF of the release you used? Would make good resource material for the event.
    ~AR | 28/10/2011 7:37 PM

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    Happy Monday – Fun Finds #8 « Tuuli Platner Photography | 31/10/2011 8:59 AM

  • Stephanie D Stephanie D

    All of these amazing photos made me cry. I love their stories and the new changes. Can't wait to be part of this amazing event this year!
    Stephanie D | 10/11/2011 9:34 PM

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    […] Help-Portrait 2011 – Friend Jeremy Cowart has created a movement providing free images to those in need. Check out some big changes for the December 2011 event. […]
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