Stanley-Carl du-Pont is an H-P organizer for Ubuntu Help-Portrait in Johannesburg, South Africa. He offers an overview of how they plan their Help-Portrait event and points out that every city and event may approach it differently.

On reflection, our project workflow is very different to how we understand others are applying it. Why? Because out here in South Africa, the “need” communities are large, dispersed and do not have access to

[cheap or free] public transport. And so we take Help Portrait into these communities as opposed to inviting them to a location where our photography gear is set up. Consider this: when we close our project, our team of volunteers will have offered portraits in over 60 different locations and over 5,000 portraits will have been given!

This is how we do it:

  1. We set up a catalogue of locations at which shoots will be held and invite volunteers to sign up. This is the event list.
  2. The shoots cover a period we call “Help-Portrait Month”: 4 November to 4 December. Following the launch on 1 November, our volunteers began shooting on 4 November and they will continue up to the worldwide Help-Portrait day on 4 December.
  3. After a shoot, the images are edited and then submitted into a print pool. We have secured a printing deal that makes it worthwhile to bulk print the portraits.
  4. After printing, the images are mounted on hardboard [that has been decorated by school children] and readied for delivery and presentation on a pre-arranged date. Here is an example:
    Shoot setup
    Portrait presentation
  5. We have raised the funding to pay for the prints through a number of ways:
    • A photography print shop subsidised the 6″x8″ prints at a rate less than 50% of the street price of prints
    • Our group on the Help-Portrait portal: is the home-base for event scheduling, discussion and management of the shoots
      We also use a Google group: to reach a wider audience that is not registered on the Help-Portrait portal
      We have a blog: that is hosted on a photography related network and it is used to share information about the project publicly
    • A small number of “generous” individuals “underwrote” the cost of the project’s target of 5,000 prints
    • A blog article was used to draw attention to the value of the portrait and it called for donations: See here.
    • A very small number of corporates were approached for a donation
    • A very low key public appeal for donations was made on radio
    • Invited volunteers to donate and challenge their friends to match or better their gift. See here.

    Has this worked? Absolutely! And so we are well on the way to surpassing the project goal of giving 5,000 portraits

  6. How we are organised and how we communicate:
    We have added some fun and spontaneity to the project:

    • By communicating regularly and in a fun-filled way
    • We emphasise that it’s less about the photos and more about the people we photograph
    • We have created challenges.
    • Encouraged free shooting.
    • And called for sharing of stories and experiences.

And so when its all said and done, I wonder how what we have learnt through all of this compares with others focused around a single day shoot. Probably very differently!

But notwithstanding this, I believe we invoke and experience the same emotional response: Joy. Giving back to people in need – giving joy – through photographs! And it is no better expressed than as compliment we received:

“You may not realize the importance of this gift. These kids will receive their first and possibly the last photograph of themselves in their lives!” –Ms Phindi Hlalele, Executive Director: African Children’s Feeding Scheme