We began the Help-Portrait blog with the goal to provide updates, tips & tricks about planning your event and to share the stories that come from them.

But now we’re thinking it’s high time to just open up this platform to you, the Help-Portrait community. Below is information about becoming a contributor to this blog. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with the HP community. We couldn’t do this without you!

help_portrait100-27Help-Portrait exists because of you.

Lives are touched, impacted and changed around the world because each of you care deeply about using what you have in your hand to give back.

The stories recorded on our blog show that taking just a little time out to offer someone hope and to show them their worth can change a person’s entire outlook.

And as volunteers, you all know this isn’t a one-way street. Each of us who have participated in a Help-Portrait event have received far more than we’ve given.

To that end, we want to continue sharing the stories and also ways to do what we do better on our blog. We’re inviting the Help-Portrait community to lend their voice to the Help-Portrait blog.

  • Do you have a story and photo you can share?
  • Do you have a perspective on volunteering?
  • Do you know a great organization or work flow tip?
  • Can you help a first-timer learn what to expect at an event?

Your perspective is invaluable. Help us deepen what we offer on this website by submitting a post. Your name, group location and community link will be shared. Here are the guidelines to give you a framework:

    • Posts must be at least 300 words (400-600 preferred).


  • Posts may appear elsewhere but should be catered to the Help-Portrait audience.
  • Images should be formatted 570 pixels wide.
  • Posts can be memories & stories from Help-Portrait events, tips & tricks on hosting an event, or photography pointers.


Submit your blog post below. Posts may be edited for length, grammar and tone. You’ll be notified when your story is posted if you include links to your social media outlets.

Posted on Feb 13, 2013  |  Category: Contributors, Submit a Story  |  No Comments

Rachel Chalhoub, West Palm Beach, FL, USA:

This has been my second time working on Help-Portrait. My former
co-worker, Jamilah Newcomer, introduced me to the program when she was
still a teacher with me. I got the opportunity to work as a photo editor
my first time around. It was such a rewarding experience that I wanted to
be a part of the next one for sure. A few months ago Jamilah emailed me
and asked if I’d be interested in helping out again. This time she needed
someone to help document the day and asked if I wouldn’t mind creating a
short video of the event.

On December 8th I got the chance to work with Jamilah and many other
generous photographers and volunteers on Help-Portrait at the local
child/family services center. Getting to interact with the kids and have
them light up at the sight of my camera was an amazing experience. They all
were amazed at the equipment I was using and wanted to know what I was
filming for. When they found out they definitely ‘hammed’ it up for me.
But my favorite moments were those true genuine feelings of pride that I
caught on film. When each kid saw their photo completed, they were so
proud of their families. It was something they could hold and show that
they were a family, and I felt so honored to share that day with them.

As a full-time educator, I see how important families are in a child’s
life. And to be able to give something to them to strengthen that bond is
something I wish I could do every day.

Posted on Feb 12, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments

Jason and Sandy Edelstein, Chosen 300 Location, Philadelphia, USA:

The 300 Location was one of 7 Help-Portrait locations in Philadelphia.  Around 20 volunteers helped provide photographs for 128 people.  What was so special about this event was that we really brought the next generation of charitable photographers along.

My son Jason has grown up with a camera in his hand and face (literally as I’m a Philly based photographer).  He had 3 of his friends, who are all very interested in photography as well as being very charitable kids used to giving back every opportunity they have, come along with us to this year’s Help- Portrait. It was incredible to see four 16 & 17 year-old kids completely blown away by how great it felt to do something for someone else. Teenagers are typically portrayed as selfish but these kids truly got it, and I do believe the experience changed each of them.

We have decided as a group to go back to the shelter as often as possible and volunteer to deliver dinners to the people of the shelter. Just another way Help Portrait is impacting people, but in this case it’s the next generation and that in my opinion is where real change can happen, they are after all our future.

This week Jason brought up a good point, and one I hadn’t thought about before. He said, ” what’s so incredible about Help-Portrait is that you get to see immediately how you have impacted someone else’s life. With other charity and volunteer efforts you might never get the chance to see how your time, money, or efforts impacted someone. With Help-Portrait the reward is instant. The second you show them their picture, you see their eyes light up, and you can tell that they now feel valued and important. You know right away that you have impacted someone’s life for the better.”

Pictured here are Jason and his three friends:


In addition to helping out, Jason also did the filming, audio, and editing for this video.  Please take the time to watch the video and hear some of the other ways this Help-Portrait event has impacted our community.

Help Portrait Philadelphia 2012 at Chosen 300 from JPEVisual on Vimeo.

Connect: HP Philadelphia

Posted on Feb 11, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  3 Comments
  • Ashley Ashley

    Awesome:) what a great experience for everyone <3
    Ashley | 12/02/2013 2:24 AM

  • Shandai Jenkins Shandai Jenkins

    This was an outstanding video. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share the experience with Help Portrait. Our guests look forward to help portrait each year. Our doors are always open to Help Portrait. Thanks for serving. Shandai Jenkins Sr. Vice President/ Co-founder
    Shandai Jenkins | 16/02/2013 12:31 PM

  • Jim Denham Jim Denham

    Wow, really well done! Just proves that the benefits of giving are for both parties involved! Great stuff!
    Jim Denham | 18/02/2013 4:22 PM

Paul Wheatley, Santa Paula, CA, USA:

In December I joined my friends, Dana, Steve, Valea & Hunter in doing our first Help-Portrait event at a retirement home in Santa Paula, CA. If you’re not familiar with Help-Portrait, please check out their website HERE. We gathered photographers, make-up/hair stylists, printers and helpers to capture, style and hand-deliver beautiful photographs to people who don’t have this kind of opportunity. It’s just a small way for artists to pass on something nice to others.

This experience was truly amazing though and left me feeling very touched. I felt like I took a little piece of everyone home with me. Their stories were incredible and everyone was so open and kind. I learned so much about everyone.  I felt like I made tons of new friends. Hundreds of photos taken and over 50 8″X10″ prints, hand -selected, retouched and delivered to everyone.

One of my favorite memories was of a woman I photographed named Loris. Loris lives in the retirement home but is truly one of the most energetic people I’ve ever met. We were having a great conversation during our shoot when she mentioned she had recently started taking up the drums. I was shocked. When her session ended she jumped up, headed to her room and returned with her electronic drum set in hand! She gave me my very own private concert right there on the set–it was AWESOME!! Loris was one of MANY that day that truly rocked my socks off.

So, cheers to everyone who helped make this day so special and I can’t wait for more of these events in 2013!

Connect with us here!

























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

David Castillo, Tijuana Baja California, México

We photographed a group of 22 seniors, ranging in ages from 65 to 88 years old, some feel weak, others tired and others felt forgotten and alone. They cast aside all that and made a long trip to our rendezvous site, so enthusiastic and happy about their photograph. Being able to make them so happy with a portrait was the most impactful part of the event.

One person said that in her 67 years, there were not that many meaningful moments in her life…. But this was definitely one of the best!

Another person said, “Thank you for this gift, and doing this for us, as for many of us are all alone, and seldom have someone doing things for us… God bless you and keep you!”

The joy in the faces of those who are elderly and feel forgotten and really appreciate a portrait even before they were photographed is what made this, for all of us, unequivocal!Hp_dcp_dc_2517_s_2400

Connect with us on our Facebook.


Posted on Feb 08, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  3 Comments
  • Zoe Alexander Zoe Alexander

    It is fantastic to see how the act of bringing people together to share a common experience such as a group portrait has a profound impact on their lives. They now share a common bond other than being a group of seniors.
    Zoe Alexander | 09/02/2013 11:04 AM

  • Amparo Amparo

    para nosotros también fue una experiencia maravillosa y lo volveremos hacer!!
    Amparo | 09/02/2013 6:34 PM

  • Kendra Kendra

    Que bueno!! Gracias por tu participación. Nosotoros estamos emocionados que ustedes sean parte de este movimiento!
    Kendra | 10/02/2013 4:43 PM

Mark Walczak, Chicago, Illinois, USA:

For the second consecutive year, I had the pleasure of coordinating a Help-Portrait event at The Moody Church in Chicago.  This year brought greater involvement from Jim Porett and Bryan Dockett – two local photographers who worked at other sites in the past, but were able to focus their attention on Moody in 2012.  We had the privilege of serving families that were involved in the church’s Angel Tree program.  Every year, hundreds of children receive Christmas gifts that are purchased by church-goers on behalf of their parent who is incarcerated.  When it came time to distribute the gifts, the families were invited to Moody for a huge party with food and entertainment.  Before making their way to the festivities, families were given the opportunity to have group and individual portraits taken.  Every family left with three things: an 8×10 family photo, a bundle of 4×6 individual prints, and a USB flash drive that contained the digital files.  A separate 4×6 family shot was also printed, and mailed to the parent in prison.

This year, we made tremendous improvements on our workflow from last year, and I think it’s worth sharing: we decided to do all of our printing in a second room adjacent to our photo bays.  This allowed our photographers and assistants to focus on interacting with clients and giving them the best experience possible.  Our print volunteers were then able to concentrate on organizing and finishing the final product before giving it to the folks we were serving.  This made our main workspace more open and gave a calmer, more welcoming feeling for our clients.  You can download our workflow documents here: http://db.tt/YJpp7TX7

The biggest surprise of the day came when we finally tallied up the photos and discovered that we printed approximately 500 pictures and served 95 families!  We were projecting to only help 50-75 groups, but our clients were excited and energized from their experience last year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, which supplied about thirty volunteers as well as all of the supplies for our hair and makeup department.  They were incredibly helpful, professional, and organized.  Best of all, they were experts at showing our clients the love and care that we desired to impart.

On behalf of all of the Chicago volunteers, I would like to thank Jeremy, Kyle and the entire Help-Portrait team for inspiring fellow artists to greatness, service, and community.

Help-Portrait Chicago 2012 | The Moody Church from Help-Portrait Chicago on Vimeo.

Posted on Feb 07, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  4 Comments
  • Steve (HelpportraitDub) Steve (HelpportraitDub)

    well done all, and appreciate the documentation,
    Steve (HelpportraitDub) | 07/02/2013 9:30 PM

  • Mark Walczak Mark Walczak

    You're welcome, Steve! If anyone's interested in following H-P Chicago, check us out on twitter @HP_Chicago You can also follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helpportraitchicago To follow myself, Jim or Bryan, see: @mdwalczak @jimporett or @Dockettphoto Thanks again! It was such a pleasure serving our community!
    Mark Walczak | 07/02/2013 11:53 PM

  • Sandy Sandy

    That is a great place to do Help Portrait, Moody Church When is it going to come to Grand Rapids, MI
    Sandy | 08/02/2013 12:02 AM

  • Mark Walczak Mark Walczak

    You should start one yourself, Sandy! It's busy work, but it's so, so worth it!
    Mark Walczak | 08/02/2013 2:12 AM

Jon Adaskin, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:

An Open Letter to the Guests of Siloam Mission

On Saturday, December 8, 2012, I along with several colleagues took part in the annual Help-Portrait event here in Winnipeg.

We were at different venues around the city for the day, giving portraits for free! I was at Siloam Mission.

This is an open letter to the guests of Siloam Mission.

First of all, let me start by saying Thank You so very much for inviting us into your home. We felt so comfortable and welcome, the warmth from each and every one of you was felt by every one of us! The amount of love you have there is incredible, we also felt your love and gratefulness. Actually, it is US who are grateful.

I can appreciate that you may have had your dignity assaulted, vandalized or cruelly mocked at times, but it can’t be taken away from you unless it is surrendered, which we learned you simply won’t do… that’s courage and integrity.

Winston Churchill said “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” How true is that?

I learned this valuable lesson from you, the guests of Siloam, that every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it. I am flawed too, we all are to some extent.

When I feel like I’m really at a low point, I look back at my time photographing you all at Siloam and draw strength from all the amazing people there. I’m weak compared to you.

I look forward to returning again next year. This was the second year I’ve been there, and I hope to be there every year from now on!

Again, Thank You all for making the event a great success, and Thank You for effecting me in such a positive way. I’m so very proud to have met each of you (or seen you from last year).

This is a picture of me, Darren Fast, Bob Tinker, Jerry Grajewski, and Jim Todd! Photo by Ron Cantiveros (Filipino Journal).


Posted on Feb 06, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments

Allegra Miller, Los Angeles, CA, USA:

Our event took place at a Head Start. We photographed the low-income families there, also providing free food, hair and makeup and childcare. Because our program is government funded, a father said to me, “I’m so grateful to the government for doing this for us…” I explained to him that this in fact was not put on by the government but funded by missional grant money from our church, Reality LA, and staffed by my friends from church who are here simply because they want to be. He was shocked. He told me, “I know you all are doing this out of love, there’s no other reason you would be giving so much. You have shown me what church should look like.” I knew he wasn’t talking about a building, or following a set of rules or morals, but living out Christ’s HUGE and unconditional love – and the fruit of love, peace and joy that filled that day and fills our days because of that. The volunteers didn’t just tell them the gospel, they showed it to them, and this spoke WAY louder.

I also spoke with a mother who has experienced domestic violence and continues to struggle with her marriage, while caring for her five children as a single mom, working only odd jobs here and there that she can get. I looked her in the eyes and asked her, “Do you know how beautiful you are?” She immediately began crying, and through the tears barely got the words out, “Thank you to all of you. I feel it.”

It was amazing to see families walk in the building not knowing what to expect, inward, quiet, and serious, and walk out with huge smiles on their faces, embracing who were once strangers, with joy in their hearts. I know it wasn’t just because they felt physically beautiful or got a piece of paper with their picture on it. But because they felt seen, heard, welcomed, and affirmed. We all had experienced a bit of life as God intended it – serving and loving one another with the goal of edification not of ourselves but to point to our maker who gives us all things. Parents couldn’t believe they were receiving this for free, and we couldn’t believe the change that occurred as they realized that the day and portrait truly was for free.

Anyone can come together to make a huge difference. While these low-income families has physical needs that need to be met, their unseen needs are just as, if not more, important. Through this Help-Portrait event we were able to show people love not just in empty words but in actions – in serving all day just to be with them, in affirming their beauty inside and out, in welcoming them into an environment of compassion, joy, peace, and love created by the volunteers that served for no selfish gain. It was a blessing for the parents, many of whom, never have an opportunity to do anything for themselves or be served or take time out just to enjoy each other without the burdens of their daily struggles to get by, and it was also a blessing for the volunteers who were filled up and changed just by purposing to love on other people who they did not know and seeing the change in them as the day progressed. We were all radically transformed by the experience.




Posted on Feb 05, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments

Shelley Shockley, Cleveland, OH, USA:

This event achieved the goal that I believe you guys sought when you started this project four years ago – to make those less fortunate in our communities feel good about themselves. When I decided to try and put this event together I didn’t know if it would come to fruition, but with the help of some wonderful friends we were able to come together and make life just a little better for someone else if only for a short time. This was one of the best experiences of my life and I can’t wait to do it again.

Working out the kinks

Volunteers Beletu Wondwossen, Stephanie Jones and Shelley Shockley-Rutledge work out the kinks with the printing process. (Photo by Tracee Oglesby)

Posted on Feb 03, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments

Tiffany Christina Stewart, Farmington Hills, MI, USA:

This year we ran a very small event, doing a senior portrait photo shoot for three high school gentlemen at a local kids residential center. It was wonderful to watch their transition during the shoot from shy and quiet to confident and having a blast. Once they got warmed up they didn’t even need any direction – the poses kept coming, you just had to make sure your shutter finger was ready! By the end of the day the kids were laughing and dancing during the shoot (even though we didn’t have any music). It was a day that made them the center of attention and allowed them to feel like normal kids, with a package of senior portraits to remember the day and share with friends. And as a bonus, they will now appear in their high school senior yearbook. I guess we did OK as we were told by the kids that we took many “money shots.” The Director of the center later mentioned how one of the boy’s faces lit up when he was telling him about the day and reenacting some of his poses. So, while it seemed like a small event to our team, we saw how huge it was in the eyes of these three kids.

Connect: HP Metro Detroit

Posted on Feb 02, 2013  |  Category: Story of the Day  |  No Comments