April 2011, Ishinomaki, Japan. Miho is overlooking her neighborhood and the remains of the houses. A few weeks earlier, these were the streets and gardens where she played with friends. Photo by Kasper Nybo

Our friends at Halogen TV have a post up today featuring a panel of six humanitarian photographers discussing the role and evolution of the genre. Tony Cece, Gary S. Chapman, Rhys Harper, Douglas Klostermann, Bryan Watt and Kasper Nybo talk about recent innovations and challenges. They answer “How has humanitarian photography evolved over the last 25 years?” “How does humanitarian photography influence society?” and “What role does humanitarian photography play in furthering good causes?”

Here are a few highlights (read the full article here):

  • “I’ve learned that many of the people I encounter in Third World countries don’t want us to feel sorry for them.” -Tony CeCe
  • “It is not a good idea to volunteer for large organizations that have budgets in places for media.” -Gary S. Chapman
  • “I think photojournalism, even at the amateur or hobbyist level, played a huge role in the uprising earlier this year in Egypt.” -Rhys Harper
  • “A big evolution that I see is humanitarian photography now being referred to as an actual genre.” -Kasper Nybo
  • “Every humanitarian photographer, at one time or the other asks himself/herself, ‘Is my photography really making a difference?’” -Chapman
  • “Some Japanese tsunami victims said they felt as if ‘outsiders’ – the media – came and ‘stepped on their hearts.’” -Bryan Watt

What steps should photographers responding to needs take to ensure their work is helping, not hindering?

Posted on Aug 17, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

2011 marks the third year for Help-Portrait. What started as an idea way back in 2008 has grown into an international movement that has had more momentum than we ever expected. We can’t say it enough…thank you!

As we begin to prepare for the December 10, 2011 event, the Help-Portrait team is busy securing new merchandise, sponsors, a new community site and the list could go on. While we work on these things, we need to ask you a favor:

Help us spread the word about Help-Portrait. 

The goal behind H-P is intentionally simple: Find people in need, take, print and deliver their picture. Our focus has been, since day one, to empower the photography community to make a difference with their unique skills. To date, more than 10,500 photographers have participated. This year, we’d love to see that number climb to 25,000. Big jump? Absolutely! But, we believe that you can help us do it.

This number isn’t about you or us. It’s about the people. What we’ve learned is that at our events, a single participating photographer gives away an average of 6 portraits. Multiple that number times 25,000 and together we can give portraits to 150,000 people across the world. The impact will be acute, but epic.

But…we can’t do this without you. 

If everyone of you shared about Help-Portrait on your Facebook wall, the number of people we could reach in one day would be hundreds of thousands. Add Twitter, blogs and Google+ to the mix and my head begins to swirl with the reach YOU can give Help-Portrait.

So, will you join us and help spread the word?


Here’s how.

Sample Facebook/Twitter/Google+

Photographers unite! Join me & 25k photogs as we give back on Dec 10: Give, don’t take pictures. http://bit.ly/hp-2011 #helpportrait

Thanks for being loyal promotors, participants, fans, volunteers and enthusiasts. We would be nothing without you, our faithful community.

Here’s to 150,000 portraits given, not taken, this December!

Kyle Chowning
Executive Director

Posted on Aug 16, 2011  |  Category: In the News, Updates  |  6 Comments
  • meghan meghan

    Photographers is spelled wrong in the template :( But I did spread the news!
    meghan | 16/08/2011 4:10 am

  • RenegadePilgrim RenegadePilgrim

    Tweeted and FB-ed....
    RenegadePilgrim | 16/08/2011 4:28 am

  • Julie Julie

    Hey it should say "find people in need" not "fine people in need" at the top. Will RT!!
    Julie | 16/08/2011 12:03 pm

  • carandavis carandavis

    It's fixed. Thanks!
    carandavis | 16/08/2011 12:36 pm

  • Al Al

    What a great cause,if this was around when i was a child i would have more then my class pics to look back on..Looking forward to helping out
    Al | 15/10/2011 1:49 am

  • Anna Anna

    Can anyone explain how taking a portrait of a child without shoes or a family without food helps them?
    Anna | 09/11/2011 10:32 am

woods photo by cara davis

The current issue of Garden & Gun (Aug./Sept. 2011) includes a feature about Wendell Berry, a prolific American writer who was awarded the National Humanities Medal in March by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Berry, who has more than 50 books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction to his credit, is known for his connection to place – namely a farm in rural Kentucky where he lives and works, not many miles from where he was born. But Berry has traveled the world and influenced many in it over the years with his writing and ideas.

In the article, Berry, now 77, jokes with friends while bird watching about starting the “Slow Communication Movement,” in response to a culture of instant messaging and the “Society for Preservation of Tangibility” – a barb directed at society filled with digital avatars and electronic friends.

His witty take on the pitfalls of ever-advancing technology are rooted in a career known for its contributions to the subjects of conservation and land stewardship.

His writing studio features no electricity, but a large window that overlooks the river and allows natural light to flow in as he writes lines like this recent one from a recent poem:

It is a room as timely as the body
As frail, to shelter love’s eternal work,
Always unfinished, here at water’s edge,
The work of beauty, faith, and gratitude
Eternally alive in time.

The feature writer commented on Berry’s work: “In tumultuous and uncertain times, it is worth being reminded that these fine things – beauty, faith, gratitude – still lurk eternally beneath history’s dark veneer, and that an artist working alone in a room beside a river may catch a glimpse of them and render them into a lyric poem, a short story, or an essay.”

To that list I’d add “a photograph.”

Do you have spaces in your life that reconnect you to beauty, faith and gratitude?

Posted on Jul 28, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

eudora welty photographs

There’s a fantastic photo book published in 1993 featuring the work of Eudora Welty – mostly known for her fiction. (Her first published short story was “Death of a Traveling Salesman” in 1936.) Eudora Welty Photographs shows how she documented life in the South during the Great Depression.

The introduction of the book features an interview with Welty in her home in Jackson, Miss., in 1989 and serves as a retrospect of her career. There are some interesting insights when it comes to storytelling and photography:

Welty was a self-described “shy” person who took “daring” photographs. When asked what the circumstances surrounded the images she captured and published in her book One Time, One Place, she said: “I was never questioned, or avoided. There was no self-consciousness on either side. I just spoke to persons on the street and said, ‘Do you mind if I take this picture?’ And they didn’t care. There was no sense of violation of anything on either side. I don’t think it existed; I know it didn’t in my attitude, or in theirs. All of that unself-consciousness is gone now. There is no such relationship between a photographer and a subject possible any longer.”

When asked why, she explained, “Everybody is just so media-conscious. Maybe it’s television. Everybody thinks of pictures as publicity or – I don’t know. I wouldn’t be interested in doing such a book today, even if it were possible. Because it would assume a different motive and produce a different effect.”

(Keep in mind her comments were in 1989 – and sound like they could have been spoken today.)

Welty said she never posed people or imposed upon them with her photographs. She took a handful of shots and went on her way. “My pictures were made in sympathy, not exploitation. If I had felt that way, I would not have taken the pictures.”

Many of her subjects had never had a picture taken of themselves, and had never owned one. This is what she said about those: “They had so little, an a photograph meant something. And they really were delighted. It didn’t matter that it showed them in their patched, torn clothes. They wanted the picture. They were delighted at the evidence of themselves here – a picture was something they could hold.” (emphasis added)

Welty said her images constituted a statement of reality. “It wasn’t needed for me to say, ‘Look what a bad thing.’ Or, ‘Look how these people are facing it, facing up to it, meeting it, hoping as well as enduring it.’”

The photos spoke for themselves.

“I wasn’t trying to say anything about myself in the pictures of people. I was trying to say everything about them, and my taking them was the medium. The photographs are saying what I saw. I was just the instrument, whatever you want to call it.”

Click here to see a slideshow of Welty’s photographs from The New York Times.

Posted on Jul 18, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

What’s your biggest fear?

What’s your greatest dream?

These are the two questions Help-Portrait founder Jeremy Cowart and a group of friends asked while on a road trip across the country.

“The result was magical,” writes author Donald Miller on his blog.

“The greatest stories are lived in the desert,” Miller writes. “The great lives are lived in the places we most fear.” Click here to read more from his post.

Visit fearsvsdreams.com to read some of the responses. You can leave yours here or tweet them with the hashtag #FearsVsDreams.

Posted on Jul 11, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  2 Comments
  • ryan ryan

    Fear: Never to discover my true purpose. Dream: To discover my true purpose.
    ryan | 11/07/2011 9:35 pm

  • Emily McIntyre Emily McIntyre

    Fear: that the rapture will happen before I can live my life to save people by God's love. And losing my love. And also my dad dying an alchoholic and never getting his faith back and as a result going to hell... Dream: saving the world and maing sure the whole world hears about the Lord. And also saving my dad. Persuing a career in music. And who could forget, marrying the love of my life. --sorry if its too long...
    Emily McIntyre | 22/07/2011 6:30 am

relevant magazine jeremy cowartHelp-Portrait and its founder, Jeremy Cowart, are highlighted in the current issue of RELEVANT magazine (July/August 2011). In the interview, Cowart talks about why Help-Portrait came about, plus: Christians and art, giving back, and what it takes to create a good image today.

“It’s a unique, special opportunity to be in front of the camera,” Cowart said of his work with Help-Portrait. “Photography really is an amazing thing: to use this box to capture a smile, to capture a moment. For that moment to live on forever is a pretty cool thing.”

You can view the article in the online digital issue on page 26.

Posted on Jul 04, 2011  |  Category: H-P Organizers, In the News  |  1 Comment
  • Joe Dugan Joe Dugan

    Hi My name is Joe Dugan I am the Director of the Peanut Butter Gang ? Hospitality Too Soup Kitchen located at St Anne's Church in Brentwood, N Y I was informed that you are interested in taking photos at our soup kitchen I would like to learn more about this project my home phone #631 482 8538
    Joe Dugan | 12/10/2011 7:41 pm

Name: Ana Rita Ramos
Role: Co-organizer of the event
Date: 25-26 June 2011 
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

How the event came about: We wanted to organize a volunteer event that had related to what we stand for Ginkgo, the magazine where I work, particularly in this European Year of Volunteering.

How many people served: 65

Highlight from the day: 65 people have gone through a transformation process to realize human potential. 40 volunteers, including hairdressers, makeup artists, photographers and journalists, dedicated to corpor and soul of the event. The results were extraordinary!

What you learned: The pictures that came out of this initiative have endless stories, stories of hardship and hope, we all can review.

What you’d do differently next time: Next I think will be best to do the event only one day, but in a larger physical space, involving even more people!

Are there plans for a future event? Yes, Joining to Help-Portrait on the 10th of December!

Photographer Ahmad Kavousian was one of the few photographers invited by Gingko to participate in Help-Portrait: Libson. He also shared his experience with us:

“I have an ongoing visual research about street people’s life in north America that started in 2004 in Vancouver British Columbia, and now I expand it farther to Europe after moving to Portugal in 2010.

“The location [of the event] was in Lisbon, Portugal, in a poor neighborhood with many social residences. Many street people were attending, probably 20-30 – I have to say we don’t have a big population of homeless here :) that explains why 20-30 is a big number. There were many makeup artists, hair dressers, photographers and journalists for doing the work, lots of food and drink also available for them.

“Sponsors prepared lots of dresses and shoes for them to put on for the photoshoot and take it with them afterward. They were so happy, cheerful and so funny. There was a huge difference in their behavior before and after makeup, that’s how many bystanders realized that the big difference between us and them is nothing more than a clean look. I am sure when they were walking back in street with their new look, nobody could say if they are a homeless or an engineer. They’ve planned to do it again soon.”

Have you recently held a Help-Portrait event? Share the behind-the-scenes with us.

Posted on Jun 30, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments
Refugees in Tanzania

Refugee children in Tanzania at a facility run by the International Rescue Committee; Photo by Donna Morris for the IRC

There are 36 million refugees who live in camps worldwide. Half of them are children.

Today is World Refugee Day, and we stand in solidarity, but also in action.

Here are a variety of ways you make a difference in the lives of those who are forced to flee their homelands due to persecution, conflict or violence: “12 Actions for World Refugee Day.”

Posted on Jun 20, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

Emma is a relatively new email marketing company with a team committed to giving back, sustainability and innovation. Inc. magazine recently named Emma one of the 50 best small company workplaces, and it’s no surprise. Here’s a look at some of the causes they support.

  • Planting five trees for every new customer. (That’s 20,000 trees a year.)
  • Good Works” accounts. (They set up every agency with a free account that can be used for whatever deserving charity they choose.)
  • Funding loans to small businesses through Kiva. (Each month, a revolving group of Emma staffers peruses the Kiva site and decides how to distribute Emma’s monthly contribution. )
  • Funding classroom projects through DonorsChoose.org. (Emma staffers pick a handful of projects each month. They’ve helped more than 10,000 students in 27 states.)
  • Giving away 25 Emma accounts every year (through the annual Emma 25 initiative awards, benefitting small, deserving nonprofits that our customers nominate).

Help-Portrait is the beneficiary of one of those awards this year, and we’re honored to be chosen and named among 24 other amazing nonprofits. Help-Portrait was given a free account and we were able to work directly with one of Emma’s designers, Taylor Schena, to develop a custom email stationery.


Interested in signing up for our newsletter? Fill out the form below be signed up to receive our communications.

Thanks for your work, Taylor, and to Emma for the honor. We appreciate what you’ve done for us, but also your commitment to give back and make a positive difference while doing business.

Posted on Jun 14, 2011  |  Category: H-P Tips  |  No Comments

From the just-for-fun department, here is a photo gallery featuring Brooklyn, N.Y., in the summer of 1974. It’s a collection of beautiful and nostalgic vintage photos by photographer Danny Lyon, who spent two months snapping pictures of the everyday life in the borough.

brooklyn summer 1974
Three boys and ” A Train” graffiti in Brooklyn’s Lynch Park. Image by Danny Lyon / National Archives and Records Administration

See all 42 images: www.businessinsider.com

Posted on Jun 12, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments