Jeremy says this A MUST SEE TED Talk for all creatives and photographers! (via @JefnJul)
Check out the amazing story of Ruth Gruber, a photographer who documented the exodus of Holocaust survivors to America. This brave woman simply asked, “Why don’t we do something?” and then acted on it. A documentary about her life, called “Ahead of Time” is airing on Showtime throughout this month (click here for air times).
Think Help-Portrait, but with painted portraits instead of digital ones. We loved hearing about what the folks at The Memory Project are doing for kids around the world and wanted to share it with the Help-Portrait Community.
The Memory Project creates keepsakes for children who don’t have so much as a family photo. The Memory Project recruits artists — mostly high school art students — to paint portraits of orphans from around the world. The portraits are then given to the children, in many cases becoming one of their few possessions.
Ben Schumaker started the Memory Project in 2004 as a social work grad student at the University of Wisconsin. It was featured on Katie Couric’s first CBS Evening News broadcast and quickly became a full time job. Since then more than 25,000 portraits have been painted and delivered to children in more than 30 countries.
What gave you the idea to start this project?
Ben Schumaker: I was volunteering at an orphanage in Guatemala in 2003 when a man there pointed out that the kids didn’t have many personal keepsakes to contribute to their sense of self-identity. I had always enjoyed doing portraits in high school, so I thought it could be pretty powerful to get art students involved in making portraits for the kids. From that starting point, it was just a matter of taking one step at a time. Invite a few high schools to make portraits, invite an orphanage to receive portraits, get a few more high schools, another orphanage, and so on.
Why portraits? Can art change the world in a way some other form of aid can’t?
In this case I feel we are using art to add a personal touch that food and medicine can’t. Most of the kids who receive the portraits actually have most of their “basic needs” covered—they have a roof over the heads and are going to school. So for them the portraits are meant simply to make their childhoods a little more personal, a little more colorful. Something they can hang in their lockers. The portraits are meant to be special gifts in the same category as birthday presents, a day at the beach or other things they may remember fondly when looking back at their childhoods.
What kind of change in the life of a child does this effort make?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that getting a portrait changes a child’s life in the same way a heart transplant does, but I have met kids who genuinely seem to value their portraits more than any other items they might own. Some orphanages have told me that their kids started to prop the portraits on their pillows after making their beds. Another orphanage told me that whenever new visitors arrived the kids got their portraits out of their lockers and showed them off. So it’s that type of thing—not a heart transplant that keeps a child alive, but just something that’s made life a little bit more fun.
You run My Class Cares together with your wife to support other projects impacting students. Your work seems to pair American students with kids around the world—why the emphasis on one-on-one connections?
I think the one-on-one connection really makes the project more engaging to everyone involved. For the American art students, I think it’s powerful to know that their gifts are going to specific children rather than a group in general. Likewise, for the kids who receive the portraits, I think it’s meaningful to know that a particular portrait was custom made by one person who cared. Even if the portrait didn’t turn out to be a masterpiece, there’s a heartfelt effort behind it to count for something.
What can we do to support the Memory Project?
Anyone who enjoys creating art is welcome to create portraits for the project. It isn’t necessary to be an art student in a school.
For the non-artists among us, the best way to support the project is to call or e-mail art teachers at a local school to let them know about the project. And of course, like every nonprofit, financial donations are always welcome!
Visit the Memory Project’s website for more on creating portraits and supporting this project.
This interview by Kevin D. Hendricks was first published at HalogenTV.com. Used with permission.
Nashville singer/songwriter Andy Davis (@AndyDavis) is no stranger to the Help-Portrait community. Davis was one of the songwriters that penned the song inspired by H-P titled “I See You” (get the free download from Noisetrade if you haven’t!). When we saw that Davis is raising support for his next album, we wanted to share this with the community to rally behind him and help raise meals for the homeless at the same time!
Andy Davis is asking for funds to record, produce, market and distribute his new album via Kickstarter. If you are not familiar with Kickstarter, it is the largest funding platform for creative projects. Davis is asking for $30,000 to complete a new album by this Spring. So far he has more than 295 backers and needs just over $10,000 to reach his goal. He must reach this goal in less than one week by Thursday, Feb. 24th.
The awesome thing about this project is that Davis is also partnering with his favorite local Nashville eatery, Baja Burrito, to bring meals to the homeless for every backer he receives. Right now more than 295 meals will be provide from Baja Burrito for the homeless via the Nashville Rescue Mission!
Let’s help Andy Davis reach his goal and bring more meals to the Nashville homeless community.
Like Help-Portrait, many ideas start simply, then strike a chord with audiences online and spread quickly. So it was with yesterday’s Generosity Day.
On Friday, Sasha Dichter (@sashadichter), who is the Director of Business Development at Acumen Fund, a global non-profit venture fund that invests in enterprises that fight poverty in the developing world, posted a blog entry that challenged people to turn Valentine’s Day into an opportunity for greater good.
Inspired by a talk at last week’s Social Media Week New York, the idea was to “reboot” Valentine’s Day as “Generosity Day: one day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone,” he wrote. “Let’s make the day about love, action and human connection – because we can do better than smarmy greeting cards, overpriced roses, and stressed-out couples trying to create romantic meals on the fly.”
The goal was to spend the day saying “yes” to everything that was asked of you – all day long, leading to big and small acts of generosity. Those who participated were encouraged to share their experiences by tweeting and using the hashtag #generosityday.
And for good reason. We’re all in favor of ways to encourage giving back – in big and small ways – and look forward to Generosity Day becoming a yearly tradition. Who’s with us?
You can join www.facebook.com/generosityday for updates.
We saw this post about giving back with flowers today on Design*Sponge and just had to share it with the Help-Portrait Community. We love it when we see others bringing beauty to the community in creative ways. With a similar approach as H-P, Jaime at The Monkey Flower Group in Napa, Calif., launched a fantastic new project called Flowers to Care that provides simple, low-cost flower arrangements to members of the community who wouldn’t otherwise have them.
Read more at Design*Sponge.
Sasha Leahovcenco is a photographer originally from the Republic of Moldova, but who moved to Fresno, Calif., about three years ago. Inspired by Help-Portrait, he traveled to Chukotka, Russia, for a unique opportunity to share the gift of photography with people who live at the literal ends of the earth. Traveling into the very deep Tundra where small tribal groups of reindeer herders live, he stayed photographed them in their everyday life. He calls it “a life-changing experience,” citing his experience at a hospital for children with tuberculosis as “the most memorable.” We talked with Sasha about his experience, his motivation and how everyone can give back with whatever they have in their hands.
How did you get into photography?
It’s interesting, but I never thought I would be a photographer. The only reason I started is because I couldn’t find a job on the campus of the university where I was studying, and the only available position was photographer for the university scrapbook. So I took several pictures send it to my brother-in-law Ross, he edited them and sent me back, and with those pictures I showed up on the interview and presented my portfolio. Next thing I remember, I was sitting reading “DSLR Camera for Dummies.”
What’s your favorite type of work?
I really enjoy photo-journalistic work. For the most time I photograph weddings, and being a wedding photographer allows me to capture a unique story of very important day in life of different couples.
Also, I like editorial work, and this trip allowed me to push myself more in this direction.
How did you learn about Help-Portrait?
I believe first time I heard about Help-Portrait was from my brother-in-law Ross, founder of Flosites, when he started building a new site for H-P.
What about it inspired you to do a similar project?
The whole idea of making someone’s life better even with a such small thing as a photograph was enough for me to step up and try to make a difference.
What brought you to Chukotka, Russia?
Two years ago I became friend with a man who was a missionary in Pevek, Chukotka (northest city in Russia), and he invited me to come and just photograph life of people who live there. And since than I always wanted to come, but never had time and possibility. And last summer I went to Moldova to visit my family, and my friend was also in Moldova at the time. Both of us had busy schedules, yet we still met for about 20 minutes, and once again he invited me to come to Chukotka. I knew next year will be very busy for me, so I decided to come during the winter break. There were a lot of challenges due to my work schedule, financial problems, my car broke down just before the trip, yet I got on the plane and went to Chukotka.
How did you choose the places where you would photograph?
I visited 2 cities, 2 villages, and the Tundra (where I photographed reindeer herders). In total I hosted about 10 different Help-Portrait events.
Prior to the trip I planned some of them ahead with the local people I knew, and some just came right there on the spot, such as event I did in a hospital for kids with tuberculosis.
How long were you there?
I was there for a month.
Were you alone? What did you bring with you?
No, I came with another five people who were organizing different events and social projects for kids, teenagers and youth.
I could bring only limited amount of stuff due to weight limits of Russian airports. I had warm clothes, as the temperature there were getting down to -45F. And my photo equipment – couple of camera bodies, couple of lenses, flashes, stands, umbrellas, portables printer and lots of photo paper.
Tell us about some of the people you met. Had they been photographed before?
I met a lot of different people; those who’ve been photographed before, those who haven’t been photographed, and those who barely knew anything about photos.
What do you think what you did meant to them?
If I would choose one word to say, it would be “memory.” More than that – “good memories.” And let me explain why. Eight months during the year – it’s winter there. More than that half of this time, people don’t see sun, because its just don’t raise up. People are just depressed.
Sights that you would think would never happen is part of the daily life everyday and everywhere in Chukotka. And when I was photographing them, that was the moment when they actually could smile and forget all their troubles and problems in life and feel happy for a minute, and I would capture that on a photo, which they will cherish, I believe for the rest their life.
What did it mean to you?
Maybe some people would look at the photos, and say that it’s not that big of a deal. But for me, as a photographer, that’s how I can give back and serve people. And as someone said: “We have not lived today if we hadn’t made even something for those who will never be able to pay us back.”
On your site you say I believe this life is not about what we can get, but what we can give. In what ways can photography give back?
I don’t think photography in general can give back. But it’s life as photographers that we live, which can give back. I believe every person on this planet is talented in one way or another, and this talent is not just for us, but also that’s how we can serve and give back to the people around us. And each of us need to ask what you’ve got in your hands. I’ve got a camera, and with that camera I can give back and serve others.
For more photos from the trip, visit sashaleahovcenco.com.
We wanted to share some of the great stories published by the media about 2010 Help-Portrait. We’re appreciative of all the coverage and get especially excited to see local coverage featuring the volunteers on the frontlines making this event happen. Did you post about 2010 H-P on your blog? Give us a link in the comments!
Zachary Levi interview (Fox 11 LA)
Baltimore-area photographers donate time for free portrait day (The Baltimore Sun – front page)
Help Portrait brings smiles and something to remember (Seattle KING5)
Help-Protrait to be Held This Weekend (PASTE Magazine)
Help-Portrait Knows Value of a Picture (The Tennessean)
Less Fortunate Step in Front of the Camera (CTV – Canada)
Volunteers give Deployed Something to Hold Onto (WDTV – Ohio)
Help-Portrait Event Offers Free Family Photos (WSMV Ch 4 Nashville)
Omaha photo project returning Saturday (Omaha World Herald)
Photographers offer public free portraits in New Haven (New Haven Register)
Photographers donate time, portraits for homeless youth (Las Vegas Sun)
Dec. 2nd Story w/ Shannon (WSMV Ch 4 Nashville)
Help Portrait offers portraits for needy (News-Leader Springfield News)
HELP PORTRAIT VANCOUVER – DEC 4th 2010 (Beyond Robson – Vancouver)
A photo shoot for people on the Downtown Eastside (News1130 – Vancouver)
Free portraits at RIFA today (Jackson Sun)
Photographers aim to help homeless (The Reflector – South Carolina)
Shooting to help this holiday season (Abbostford times.com – Canada)
The Story Behind Help-Portrait (Relevant Magazine)
Giving the Gift of Portraits (Good Morning Texas)
Help-Portrait Seattle (Examiner.com Seattle)
Beauty in eye of a loving lens (Maribyronog Weekly)
Free Photo Sessions Light People Up (Montreal Gazette)
Free Portraits for York area disaster victims (York Dispatch)
Local photographers give Madison families lots to smile about (WKOW Madison, WI)
Photos: Help-Portrait visits Main and Hastings (Vancouver Sun)
Local photographers help needy smile (Fox 11 Green Bay, WI)
Free Family Portraits (ABC Dayton OH)
Portraits – an unexpected gift (News and Observer – Raleigh, NC)
Help-Portrait Hits Downtown Eastside (The Province – Canada)
Families Receive Free Portraits (NWAonline)
Warm Fuzzies to be Delivered by Help-Portrait 2010 (VolumeOne – Wisconsin)
All Eyes Photo Blog (Tampa Bay & St. Petersburg Times)
Photographers Show Poor, Homeless In Different Light (KETV ABC Omaha)
Help-Portrait: Photographers zoom in on city’s less fortunate (West Island Gazette – Canada)
Snap happy: Cork photographers offer to recapture smiles with free portraits (Irish Examiner – Cork)
Families cherish chance for photo of loved ones (Leader-Telegram – Eau-Claire, WI)
Einmal aussehen wie ein Star (Frankfurt Neue Presse – Germany)
Photographer offers free portraits for families (KSFY ABC Sioux Falls)
Photographers to offer free portrait service (Vietnam News)
Many received a gift that keeps on giving (WSAV Savannah, GA)
Pro photographers offer a deal (The Register-Mail Galesburg, IL)
Photos: Smile and say ‘cheese’ (Deseret News – Salt Lake City)
Photos capture new lives for those in need (Roanoke Times)
Restoring dignity — one picture at a time (The Salt Lake Tribune)
Photographers Shoot to Help Neighbors in Need (WHSV Harrisburg, VA)
Photographers, stylists to do free portraits for those in need (SouthEast Missourian)
Local Photographers Taking Part In “National Day Of Photography” (KKTV CBS Colorado)
UNC photo club gives free family portraits to the needy (Greeley Tribune)
Photographers Donate Time For Family Pictures (KTXS Abilene TX)
Families get red-carpet photo treatment (Colorado Springs Gazette)
‘This Is Our First Family Photo’ (AbqJournal – New Mexico)
International Story (TORINO, Italy)
Family portraits capture hope (UNM Daily Lobo – New Mexico)
A Portrait of Giving (Hamilton Spectator)
Pros share photographic gifts (The North Bay Nugget – Canada)
Lights, Camera…Magic! (Bay Today – Canada)
Help-Portrait Charity (Fox 13 Salt Lake)
We caught up with Help-Portrait Central Florida‘s Alonzo DeJesus at one of their December 2010 events in Orlando. In this vlog, Alonzo shares his passion for Help-Portrait, this vision of his local chapter and why everyone should become part of this movement in 2011. He also relates a story about a young woman who received a makeover and portrait at one of their events the night before. The story embodies the heart behind Help-Portrait: giving love, value and hope to people often overlooked by society.
Related link: “What’s Your Help-Portrait Story?“
Christine Elizabeth is a photographer in Omaha, NE, and serves as Help-Portrait’s Social Media Manager. She’s done a great job spreading the word about Help-Portrait, and today she shares a sweet story about friends of hers who are doing unique things to give back the community and give some special kids positive attention in her hometown in Nebraska.
I am blessed to be surrounded by people who understand the spirit of Help-Portrait and who are excited to serve others in their own way. One little girl recently organized her very own event at one of our Help-Portrait 2010 Omaha venues!
One of the amazing things, as we wrap up Help-Portrait 2010, is to see that the desire to serve others is present all year round. I was so excited to hear how one little girl organized her very own event because, as her mother, Angela Poor, said, “She wanted to show some love.” Angela was a team leader at one of our Help-Portrait 2010 Omaha venues, and her daughter is following right along in her footsteps.
Presley Poor is 9 years old, and is already finding ways to make her ideas turn into realities so that she can bless other kids. She had the idea to have a pizza party and paint T-shirts with the children from a local emergency shelter, Omaha’s Lydia House, and she asked relatives and passed out flyers until she had the resources to make it happen. She raised money for T-shirts and art supplies, and talked to a local store about donating cupcakes. Greg, her father helped out by donating the pizza. Angela said that many of the children were wearing their T-shirts by the end of the day, and it seemed that they had a great time.
Even at her young age, Presley is excited about helping other people and making them feel special. She already raised funds two other times with a lemonade stand for another local shelter, and friendship bracelets, which raised money for a girl with cancer. She has her next event planned out, and is already organizing a trip to the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo for the children from the Lydia House. She is already looking for volunteers and donations to help her rent limousines, and provide sack lunches and even some money for souvenirs.
You can see the local news story here.
We’re happy to use this blog as a platform to share how others are giving and serving. Have someone we should talk about? Let us know!