Help-Portrait to Release Photos (With Subject’s Permission) for the First Time

/, H-P Tips, Updates/Help-Portrait to Release Photos (With Subject’s Permission) for the First Time

Help-Portrait to Release Photos (With Subject’s Permission) for the First Time

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

By |2016-12-03T07:42:10+00:00October 19th, 2011|H-P Organizers, H-P Tips, Updates|14 Comments

About the Author:

Cara (@carandavis) is the online editor for Help-Portrait and lives in Nashville, TN.


  1. Peter Khauo October 19, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    I love it! I think the idea is wonderful. I can’t wait for it to start again this year!

  2. James October 19, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    This is actually just diluting the industry even more. There are already too many people expecting free photos.
    You don’t see people in other industries giving away their time and expertise away for free, just to help.

  3. Joe October 19, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    That’s really cool guys! There’s nothing like the magic in a child’s eyes when they hold a camera for the first time… good stuff! We made it a point ourselves to stick with who ever we shoot throughout the whole process, so we can learn their names and their stories. You guys are doing great with the updates and the news. Thanks for the added motivation to get going this year!

  4. Tom October 20, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    James, You have missed the point by so much that all I can do is shake my head. Jeremy, everyone at HP, this is wonderful. It’s exciting to think of the impact this will make.

  5. Amandalynn October 20, 2011 at 1:23 AM

    James, you’re out of touch about what HP is about dude. This isn’t about giving away service to your mooching neighbor or family friend, it’s about giving back to your community. Furthermore, MANY professionals in other industries donate time and talent for causes they believe in. If you don’t want to find the meaning in this movement, fine, but you’re complaining to the wrong crowd.

    As for the original post – I love the artistic, community art element being incorporated into it, but I’m a little bummed this announcement wasn’t made sooner…. It’s coming somewhat late to those of us who have already been working hard at other plans…. I’d love to be able to incorporate some of these ideas into my local hp event, but it would have been nice to have gotten this direction/suggestion earlier. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing the results from other groups :)

  6. Sharley October 20, 2011 at 1:46 AM

    James, actually there are other industries willing to donate their time, resources, money and other things, especially during the holiday to help those less fortunate. Perhaps you need to rethink you career choice or maybe just rethink your outlook. It’s a shame that someone will try to put down an organization that is about helping people.

  7. Kyle October 20, 2011 at 2:15 AM

    James, is a construction company that volunteers their time and provides materials to build a house for Habitat for Humanity or similar organization for a family that otherwise wouldn’t ever afford to live in their own home going to destroy the home building industry? No, that’s dumb logic. Go troll somewhere else.

  8. lindsay October 20, 2011 at 3:32 AM

    First off.. i ENTIRELY disagree with James..
    HOWEVER, I just wanted to express some concerns.
    1) There needs to be SPECIFIC guidelines for sharing photos, even if only through the HP website. Rules such as “no personal branding or watermarks on HP images”. This will stop people from trying to promote their own business through HP portraits. To me, that was the main reason why, as an organizer, I really pushed the rule of NO PORTRAITS ON THE INTERNET. I hated seeing people trying to use those photos to push their own brand in the vein of HP.

    2) I don’t like the idea of giving the camera to people to take portraits. I believe that really dilutes the message of Help-Portrait to GIVE portraits. I had found that the reason people were so moved by this movement was because they never had the experience of working with a professional photographer and getting that PROFESSIONAL picture. Even if a photographer sets up all of the lighting and puts the camera on a tripod, that person is not getting the experience of a professional portrait. I dont know about you, but I feel that the photographer behind the camera makes all the difference in the world – even if it’s just a pre-set lighting set up. It’s the pro who can really get the right moment and the perfect picture.

    I feel that by adding the element of creativity and art to it you are completely missing the point which is to give people something that they would love to have in their homes but wouldn’t have without HP.

    I love the idea of writing a message. We actually did this in a few ways. Firstly, each person got an ID number – after the event they were encouraged to send a request for the digital files using their ID number – in that request form there was a check box asking “Would you like your picture and story to be shared” and then a comment field for them to tell their story.

    We received SOOO many really great stories that way yet we were able to avoid the mess of a craft area and didn’t dilute the concept of giving great PORTRAITS and having the experience of feeling beautiful.

    When you start adding things to the experience of feeling great about yourself and start asking people to not only feel great about themselves but then to get creative adn write and draw, i think you might be asking alot.

    We also had a LOT of things for people to do while waiting. We didn’t have lines – we had stations and people had numbers. We had magazine racks and a kids play area as well as food and music. We never felt that the people waiting were being cattle called in to line at all.. and we did about 300 portraits!

  9. Jerry Voelker October 20, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    I love this idea. The most amazing moments before were capturing pictures of people and families that had never had a photo taken. I love the idea of letting them capture the images. I’m excited by the idea of a little kid taking a picture of their parent – you know it is something they will be proud of for the rest of their lives.

  10. Tamara Okoti October 20, 2011 at 6:38 AM

    Lindsay: Kinda liking the idea of a form for them to fill out while they wait, with their story.

    Otherwise, I think that adding all that art stuff would create a bit too much mayhem plus mess. Last year we had trouble with one big paper and felts for the kids as it was. Secondly I agree that this is pretty late coming, and if you would like us to be able to share photos of any kind, you will have to provide a very good model release for everyone to use. I also agree that handing your camera to someone would take away from the “professional session” experience, however, I can see this working well with the candid photographers we will have around.

  11. Alan Mars October 20, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    I like #1 and I like #3. I’m a little cautious though about #2. I’m a little scared handing over a $3500 camera/lens to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. This makes me want to bring my old Rebel XT with a kit lens instead of my 5D Mark II and 24-105 L Series Lens which would really be a shame.

  12. carandavis October 20, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    Thanks for the feedback, guys, keep it coming. We also have another blog post coming with more detailed specifics.Thanks!

  13. carandavis October 20, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Also, the team wanted to add that these are ideas and options for your event – we’re not saying you have to do one or all or any of them. We think these ideas could help infuse some new life and creativity into Help-Portrait events but leaders and team members should manage their local events as they feel is best for their community.

  14. Lindsay October 20, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    @Tamara – if you are going to put pictures ANYWHERE you absolutely have to have at least a model release, so if you want I can post the release that we used for you all to use as a template for creating your own. The release included the question “whats your story” and “do you want your story shared with your photo?” and “do you want your story shared but leave your photo out”

    We had published some stories not on our website, but in our press kit (all stories/photos were with permission). If you wanna see that you can download it here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.