From the beginning of our movement nearly three years ago, photographers and volunteers around the world have embraced the Help-Portrait ethos: that is giving, not taking photos. It’s never been about the photographer or his skills or what he has to offer. It’s always been about connecting with and giving back to the subject. And you all have gotten that – really gotten that – since day one. It’s been amazing to see such a generous spirit permeate these events around the world.

Because of that, countless stories have emerged. From families who have never had their portrait made together, to mothers and daughters reconciling, to rehabilitated men starting a new life symbolized with a picture …. Help-Portrait is rife with stories of hope. The stories that Help-Portrait events generate make up the most magical and meaningful part of this movement. And we’ve neglected to tell them. Until now.

(I, Jeremy, as the founder of this movement, felt it was best to not show the photos. I didn’t want this movement to be about photography. But I underestimated you and the rest of the community. You all instantly caught on to the spirit of Help-Portrait and I’m so grateful for that. But now I’m realizing just how much we’ve kept the world from seeing and experiencing. This year, I want to let them in our little secret.)

On that note, we have three big announcements to share. (Please keep in mind that these are simply ideas and options for your event, and by no means mandatory to be an official Help-Portrait event.)

1. This year, for the first time, we’re going to allow for the photos to be shown, if our subjects want them to be.

Now before you get too panicked, hear us out.

Simply put, we’ve been hiding the magic of Help-Portrait. We’ve kept more than 100,000 portraits and 100,000 stories all to ourselves. Now imagine how our movement would grow if we shared these photos and stories? The movement spreading = more lives being impacted. That’s our singular goal.

And of course, if anyone does not want their photo shown for any reason, we will completely honor that request and keep the portraits private. In addition, portraits will never be sold or used to make a profit.

We’ve seen in years past that many people WANT to tell their story and share their photos. For the first time, they’ve seen themselves in a new light. They’re proud and WANT to let the world know how far they’ve come. We want to allow them to do that!

We’ll follow up with complete details about how to share the photos in the coming days. One requirement is that they must have the Help-Portrait watermark in the bottom right corner before posting or sharing. We’ll give you everything you need.

But let’s not just post pictures on the Internet, let’s truly make this a party and celebrate these stories of hope, reconciliation and reunited families!

2. This year, let’s let our subjects take the photos!

That’s right. Put your camera on a tripod or just simply hand over your camera. Let a child take a photo of his mother or vice versa. Let a former gang member take photo of his friends. Let a sick child take a portrait of her friend. Let them take a photo of YOU, the photographer, for fun. Let’s encourage creativity and let our subjects discover the pure joy of photography, and let’s encourage them in their gifts. This isn’t about us anyway, right? So why do we need to take the photos? Let’s be the teachers, not the photographers, this year.

3. What if instead of just filing people through the line and having their portrait made, we invite them to stick around and tell their story ON their actual photo? 

This is a new vision for the actual portraits that we’re excited to tell you about.

Imagine doing a Google Image search of Help-Portrait and seeing thousands of portraits pop up and each photo has a simple story told on it by the person in the photo. Just a couple lines… “Reunited mother and daughter after 30 years of separation”… or “This portrait represents the new me and where I’m going”… or “I’m going to beat this cancer.”

Or maybe the photo just has a simple drawing on it or something funny. Maybe the subject wants to draw bunny ears on themselves or their favorite number of their favorite athlete.

What we’re saying is: What if Help-Portrait now becomes an art project? 

Kids can use stickers, glue, glitter – whatever inspires them. Markers, pens, paper … words, phrases, stories … there are no parameters here. Just bring your art supplies and provide them with whatever you can. We believe that the portraits will transform into works of art that reflect their subject.

There are a couple ways of going about this:

  • Print two portraits: one for them to modify and one for them to frame. We’ll need you to share the modified art prints in a special Help-Portrait Flickr group after they’ve been watermarked with the Help-Portrait logo. (We’re okay if they just draw the Help-Portrait “hand” in the corner as the watermark.) We believe this unique set of art images will generate new interest in the movement and help us reach even more people in years to come.  (And imagine the Google Image Search :)


  • Print just one portrait for them to modify and then take home as their final portrait. Just be sure you scan it or take a photo of it before they leave if they want to share it.

    And of course, they don’t HAVE to do the art project. If they just want their portrait as usual, that’s okay with us as well.

Whew. So that’s it! Big changes huh? We couldn’t be more excited. It’s a new direction but the principle remains the same: This isn’t about us. Let this truly be a collaboration between the stylists, photographers, volunteers and the beautiful people we’re serving that day. Let’s break the walls down. Let’s pull out all the stops and make this a year that changed everything.


-The Help-Portrait Team