I was walking a family to the portrait studio, and the wife asked me if it was photography students who run the shoots. I said “no, they are all professional photographers.” She asked me why they were doing this for free, and I said “because it’s the holidays, and because why not.” She didn’t appear to believe the whole no-catch thing until she walked out with photos in hand.

- Emily Litvak, Volunteer, Help-Portrait Flagstaff, AZ

HP Flagstaff 2013



Posted on Dec 14, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  1 Comment
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At first, I wasn’t quite sure how taking someone’s picture could help them. After a few hours at the event, I understood completely.

Most of the people in the pictures below shared their incredible stories with me. From massive weight loss to overcoming various struggles, each subject was proud of something they’d accomplished. One gentleman was even celebrating his 60th birthday.

The event reminded me why I began taking pictures in the first place. With some lights, camera, and a whole lot of action, a fraction of a second can be preserved and cherished.

-Max Grudzinski, Photographer, Help-Portrait Philadelphia

HP Philadelphia - 1


HP Philadelphia - 2


HP Philadelphia - 3


View more photos and full post on Max’s website.

Posted on Dec 14, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments

I am a high school photography teacher in Queensbury, NY, upstate. I had students volunteer to be part of Help-Portrait at The Open Door Mission in Glens Falls, NY, this was our second year there. As a teacher, the best part is seeing the impact the event has on the students. Several of them were skeptical and worried, understandably, that they would be offering charity to people who may not want it. They quickly realized that this was not the case at all. They had great interaction with the subjects and got great results. I don’t think they will ever forget how it felt to give the portraits to the subjects.

-Anthony Aquino, Queensbury, NY


Posted on Dec 10, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments

Photo Dec 07, 10 45 54 AM

Each December for the last five years, Las Vegas photographers, make-up artists, hair dressers and other generous local businesses head down to the Shannon West Homeless Youth Center to take portraits of the teens residing at the center. It’s the kids special day to forget about life’s hardships in their young lives and to get pampered. One week later the kids have prints and a disk with their images in hand. Thanks & God bless. -Lorenz Crespo, Photographer

There was a young homeless girl, around 15 years old didn’t think I could do anything with her hair….and when I got done with her she flipped and giggled a giggle I’ll never forget!! I added a donut in her hair to create that high bun she says she’s always wanted. She is so beautiful! What touched my heart the most….(and I’m crying again as I write this) is to see the homeless kids look at themselves in the mirror in complete awe. One cried and couldn’t believe it was her…another touched her face so delicately and said, “Wow. this is me.” Another teen said, “You can do anything you want to with me because anything will be better than what I am so far!” The highlight THIS year was when all of these precious sweet souls got up there and danced wiggled jiggled with our DJ and smiled like they had no troubles at all!! -Kimberlie Lombardo, Hair Stylist/Makeup Artist

I was so struck by something I heard one of the kids say on camera. To paraphrase: a young man talked about how blessed he felt to be at Shannon West … that it’s a place of safety as they figure out what it is within them that’s broken and then fix it so they can function out in the rest of the world. My heart broke momentarily with the thoughts of what these kids have survived to get to this point. But then my heart sang with this thought: They might recognize that there are broken places within themselves, but for me, I see the incredible light that sparkles through the cracks of those breaks. These kids are discovering their light again and Help-Portrait in essence provides images that reveal that light over and over again. My hope is that whenever they doubt how special they are, how priceless, how irreplaceable … that they look to these photos and remember the day when EVERYONE saw their light because there was just no hiding it. I pray for the day when their light never has to hide again. -Nancy Good, Photographer

While I was doing makeup on one young man, he was SO excited to get his picture taken. He said “my mom doesn’t have any pictures of me. I can’t wait to send her my picture.” He said, “Can you please make me look less tired for her?” Precious….. -Kathy Sue, Makeup Artist

I grew up here in Las Vegas and I have to start off saying… its not easy being a teen here. With so much overstimulation and drugs abuse on the rise…too got into made some poor choices in my life and school in adolescence. I knew I wanted to live a better life. So with the help of an inspiring supportive mentor, I made a positive choice for myself to succeed and never looked back! I went from falling off track to graduating as valedictorian of my senior class! Some of the kids asked me how I’ve gotten to where I’m at today. It made me think – with great humility – there’s a little piece of us within all of these youths. We all can relate to where they came from or where they want to be! The ability of using our gift and talent to make a once dim lit smile turn on and shine so bright amongst us inspires us! These kids literally were glowing and beaming with love and gratitude! This is truly what reminds me of how beautiful the gift of love and human kindness is! I can hardly wait until next year! -Francesca Lombardo, Makeup Artist

There was this young homeless youth boy who had nothing to do with our event but kept dancing around and joking with everyone. He was scared. All this high end photo equipment, new people with smiling faces setting up stations….AND you want me to put on makeup?! LOL! I kept nudging him, gently supporting him with encouragement…and an hour later…he stood in front of me wearing a new red sweater with a tie and dress pants…and was shaking. I hugged him, looked into his eyes and thanked him for letting us take his photo. You should have seen him! He was jumping into all the photo stations and telling others to join him. He stepped up and stepped into a life-changing experience. You can see the inner strength of this young man captured in his photos. I’m so blessed to be a part of all this! -Denise Marshall, Organizer, Help-Portrait Las Vegas


Posted on Dec 10, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments


Guillaume Desachy, San Francisco, CA:

On Saturday I was part of the +Help-Portrait day and more specifically the one organized by First Exposures in San Francisco, an organization which is helping under-served kids to learn photography. Each kid is a mentee who has a mentor assigned. They meet every Saturday morning and the mentors teach their mentee either film or digital photography.

So, for the edition of Help-Portrait I was part of, the kids were the ones taking pictures and the adults were only here to mentor them ;)

And I gotta tell you, the kids were pretty damn good!

My Saturday was going smoothly, I had been a photo manager in the morning and in the afternoon, I was a runner, showing people the steps to follow to get their portrait taken.

That’s when the precious ladies showed up! They were a multi-generation family of about 8 people.

While registering, we asked them if they wanted their make-up done. Some of them had already some make-up on and some had not. So at first, none of them really wanted to get any make-up. But when I showed them the make-up room, that was a different story!

Princess, the lady sitting in the top-left photo was at first really reticent to have any make-up. But when she saw the amazing job the make-up artists did on her daughter, she just could not resist. She was so funny, admiring herself in the mirror, saying “Oh, I am so beautiful.” They were cracking me up so much!

Then came the hairdresser room, as for the make-up room, nobody wanted to get their hair done at first but in the end they almost all did it!

After about two hours of preparation, they were finally ready to get their portraits taken! And what gorgeous models they were, that was incredible, they were rocking the stage! ;) They were getting more and more posing ideas!

Then, I walked them to the post-processing station and it was a tough choice for them to decide which picture to get printed! In the bottom-right picture, we can see Precious admiring one of her pictures!

And after that, their picture got printed and framed. I cannot describe the amount of pride and joy people had when they were walking away with their photo framed!

And I was also really proud to be part of such a great day! Thanks Jeremy Cowart and Help-Portrait, the Help-Portrait family is incredible!

Posted on Dec 10, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  1 Comment
  • Mohamed Mohamed

    on October 18, 2012 at 6:24 amThanks for your response Jan and sggiestuon on reframing the question. The point behind the question (a variation of which I've used several times this week in great conversations with leaders) is to help a mentee/leader reflect on whether they truly believe, live and lead out of the baseline truth of God's love and acceptance of them. Unfortunately, too many do not. May you be blessed as you invest in others.
    Mohamed | 05/04/2014 11:56 pm

While there were countless smiles in front of the camera, there were just as many behind it.  I was so impressed with all the volunteers–eager to be a part of giving back.  There was an energy in the room–I felt like I was part of something big, something that brought a new kind of joy to those in need.

It’s funny, when you think about those in need, your mind likely goes to the basics–food, shelter, clothing.  But I think today provided something important as well.  Getting your picture taken validates you as a person and captures a moment.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words–so I think it’s appropriate to let some of the pictures tell the story of this amazing event.  Below are just a few of the shots I was able to capture.

Today didn’t cost me anything, but I was honored to be a part of giving someone a priceless memory and was inspired by the number of other volunteers who were willing to look through the lens of kindness and give back.

-Kelly Maroney, Dayton, Ohio





Posted on Dec 10, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments



NPR has a great piece on their homepage today on Help-Portrait day around the world this past weekend, and featuring an event in working-class neighborhood of Shanghai.



Read: “For Working-Class Chinese, ‘Picture Day’ Is A Rare Treat


Posted on Dec 10, 2013  |  Category: In the News, News  |  No Comments

Yvette was camera-shy, no photo in years. Her words “not camera-shy anymore!” Very thankful for her!
-Timothy Lawrence, Harrisburg, PA


Posted on Dec 09, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments

This is the third year that I led this inspiring movement in my country (Colombia), in this case we did 81 portraits for children in need form an institution called “Hogares Club Michín” in Bogotá, in the event participated six photographers (Germán Ruiz, Cristian Rojas, Alexander Gomez, Miguel Angel Monroy, Lisandro Pérez and Luis G. Gomez), five volunteers (Diana Torres, Luis Calixto, Luis Gómez, Leonardo Jimenez, and Enrique Peña), one videographer (Ricardo Rodriguez) and three makeup / hairstyling artists (Jeinmy Fontecha, Camila Gomez and Carine Garcia).

Some of these children told us that they wanted to give the picture to their moms because probably will not see them again in a long time.

At the end of the event the smiles of grateful children was the best gift we can receive :)






























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Posted on Dec 09, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments

Dear Help-Portrait Community,

We did it!

The Annual Help-Portrait day has come and gone. What a day it was! The pictures, stories and reports are pouring in. It’s so fun to see what you all did in recent days, weeks, and for some of you, months.

Due to weather and other circumstances, we know some of you have event dates that are still coming up. Don’t worry, we’re here to root you on and will be awaiting the pictures, stories and counts to add to the global story.


If you lead a group and have completed your event, be sure to submit you stats as soon as you can. We’re updating our global impact story regularly and posting them on Twitter, Facebook and OKDOTHIS.


If you’re anything like me, you’re basking in the stories and moments you experienced. Please take a moment and share those with us. We’d love to hear about the ones that were especially touching to you. Send them to stories@help-portrait.com and don’t forget to include a picture. Please let us know if we’re not allowed to share the story publicly.


Mark your calendars because the next International Help-Portrait day is scheduled for Saturday, 06 December 2014.

Finally, Help-Portrait 2013 is far from over. There are many more stories to be told, pictures to see and reports to be included. We can’t wait to see what you all did!

Talk to you soon,

— Kyle Chowning
Executive Director

#helpportrait on Twitter • Instagram • Facebook • Flickr

Posted on Dec 09, 2013  |  Category: H-P Organizers, H-P Tips, Updates  |  1 Comment
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