Stephanie Necessary, Myrtle Beach, SC, USA:
The family I photographed has been through a lot. It was a mother and two young children. Last year, the woman’s estranged husband shot and killed the woman’s boyfriend in front of the two children. Their family has been rocked to the core, and it has taken a lot for them to get back in their feet after this. Last month, they got their first apartment since the murder – and are a family on their own now – independent without assistance. These photos will grace their new home, displaying their beautiful family of 3 :)
Jason Ayers, Greenville, South Carolina, USA:
We had a woman who was currently pregnant and living under a bridge with her boyfriend. She went to get her hair and makeup done and told the hair person that she had not had her hair done or even touched in the last 10 years.
Rowena Sjovall, Lithia, FL, USA:
This was the first time we participated in this event. We weren’t sure if we were going to pull it off as we started planning late October. Our community as a whole gave to make this event a success – a homebuilder donating use of one of their models for portraits, a local restaurant donating breakfasts, neighbors who donated refreshments and other goodies. From a planning and execution perspective, it was truly a community effort.
As far as those who we took pictures of, each family had a story to tell and everyone who received their picture seemed touched and could not even fathon how to express their appreciation, most of them did not speak English and we had translators. Someone said that kind and generous people still exist. We gave them a gift that they would never had gotten because they can’t afford it. Most of the families cannot even afford their kids’ school pictures so they don’t even have any pictures of their kids.
Biljana Jankovic, Ljubljana, Slovenia:
This little 10-year-old kid asked if he can have his hair done again tomorrow because his girlfriend was coming to visit. When we asked him how old is his girlfriend, he said 10 as well. Then we asked, “How long are you two together?” and he said 2 years!!!! :)
It was all so nice, kids singing on the microphone, learning how to play music with the DJ, joggling with the break-dancers… And all the looks and smiles and hugs we got it was amazing!! Loads of positive energy and something you can never buy – that perfect feeling you get just by doing something so simple for someone.
Syed Usama Ali, Karachi Sind, Pakistan:
Actually it wasn’t a one-day event for us here in Pakistan. We gave the interested photographers a bracket to return the portraits till the 30th of Dec 2012 at their own convenience.
One of the most interesting stories came when this friend took a portrait of these four helpers in her house whose families lived far away in another town. They had no clue the portraits would be returned back to them and when the day came they were elated! They had their portraits sent to their families back home who hadn’t seen them in a while.
Best things in life aren’t said but felt; the happiness in their eyes I saw was priceless!
Working with a not-for-profit organization that builds schools in difficult areas of Pakistan and having visited several communities on a daily basis, I knew how happy people get after seeing their photos on my camera’s lcd! Giving them back a tangible print of their own portrait brightened up their day. And mine!
Amy S. Leavitt, Las Vegas, NV, USA:
One of the most inspiring things I heard this year is that the kids at the Shannon West Homeless Youth Center are motivated by the portraits on the wall of the center. These portraits are of kids that we photographed in previous Help-Portrait events. One homeless youth stated that he looks at these portraits and is inspired and motivated because these are teens that have gone through so much, worked hard through the program at the center, and have made it out. They have made lives for themselves, and he feels that if they can do it, he can. I am amazed that just having the portraits on the wall can be such an incredible motivation for these young people. It just goes to show the far reaching effect that Help-Portrait can have.
Last year at our Help-Portrait 2011 event, one girl had the most beautiful green eyes. While I was photographing her, I complimented her a few times. Other photographers also told her how beautiful they were. She later said that she had never considered her eyes anything special, and no one had ever told her they were beautiful. I have never forgotten this. This is another far-reaching consequence of Help-Portrait. It changes the way they see themselves. Tylor is now seeing herself as beautiful, and is considering a career in modeling.
The year 2012 was our 4th year photographing at the homeless youth center. We had more photographers and assistants this year than any other year. We also had many more youth at the center want to be photographed because they are starting to “get” what we do. This is the first year the kids really got into being a “rock star” for the day. They really embraced the process and opened up to this new experience.
Lili Riecken-Raymond shares this note from Help-Portrait Perth-Australia 2012:
My gorgeous volunteers, Merida, Alecia and Alyse, and I arrived at St Pats on Help-Portrait Day feeling like we were about to give those people something special.
Instead, we were left being the ones who received the most special gift ever!
We were honored to hear 27 amazing life stories throughout the day, and can not express enough how much that meant to us all. All of these stories have certainly served as a reminder to us, that every single person out there is only one decision away from being in their situation.
As St Pats quote (on their pop up vintage shop’s wall) says: “Homelessness can happen to anyone, at anytime.”
These images mean the world to me and all involved. I hope they serve as motivation to those photographed to carry on with their pursuits. I also hope they serve as inspiration to other photographers to join the movement!
Thank you Jeremy Cowart and all the Help Portrait crew! For having this brilliant idea, being such inspirational mentors and for all the support you have offered us in running our project in Perth!
You are all amazing and we are so so happy to have joined and made our little contribution.
Debra Rheaume, Oviedo, FL, USA:
Sometimes you don’t see something, until you see it through someone else’s eyes. It’s a rewarding humbling experience.
These are pictures from our BASE Camp Event: children with cancer at their Christmas party :)
Emily Weary, Egg Harbor, New Jersey, USA:
I realized just how much of an impact I can have on someone. These people were not only grateful for the portraits and the donations, but simply how willing we were do something nice to brighten their day. That impacted me most about this event.
Chris Bruner, Chatham, Ontario, Canada:
This autistic young man was shy and started singing, “You are my sunshine,” because he was nervous. Any volunteer that was within earshot immediately stopped what they were doing and started singing along.