The Future of Help-Portrait

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The Future of Help-Portrait

We recently announced some big changes to Help-Portrait. 1. We’re going to start showing the photos if the subjects want us to. 2. We’re going to have them draw and write on their actual photos and tell their stories. 3. We’re going to hand the cameras over and let them do some shooting.

I’m so excited to show you what this looks like, finally.

I ran a small Help-Portrait event Sunday in downtown Los Angeles at what’s known as “The toughest block in the U.S.” We were at the Union Rescue Mission at Skid Row. I’m new to LA and had no idea what to expect. But I was excited about trying all our new ideas this year: showing the photos, telling the stories ON the photos, having people sign model releases, handing the camera over, etc…

Here’s how each went:

Handing the camera over: Easy. No-brainer. They loved it. I had several people telling me about how they had wanted to be a photographer in the past but had to give up due to their situation. Their eyes lit up when I told them that they could be the photographer this time. It was a big deal and made me really excited to hand over my camera…

Showing their photos: Every single person happily signed a model release. (We’re absolutely okay if someone doesn’t want to. We will always respect and honor those wishes.) But each person was almost giddy at the idea of their photo being splashed on our website and on the Internet. In fact, some of them asked me to “promise” them it would go online. They asked for our web address and wanted to know when they could see themselves on the Internet (we’re working on a solution to that right now). Just like the photos themselves, this is also something we take for granted: having our photos online. It’s very special for someone to have a nice picture online that they can send to relatives, etc., especially in time for the holidays. This new direction was a big hit.

The stories on the photos. I printed at least two pictures of every image – one for them and one for us. For our picture, they wrote something ON the photo. I told them to write anything. Literally anything. Whatever the day meant to them, or whatever they wanted to say to the world or about themselves. This was their chance to speak their minds. I don’t have to explain how powerful this was. You can see for yourselves below.

With all these new additions, it made it very clear that this year is going to be more special than ever. I cannot WAIT to see the stories and photos that emerge from your events in a few weeks.

Til then!



By |2016-12-03T07:42:08+00:00October 25th, 2011|H-P Organizers, H-P Tips|49 Comments

About the Author:

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


  1. em October 25, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    this is absolutely beautiful. so excited about this.

  2. adhit October 25, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    i love the idea, that’s wonderful thing

  3. Dan Falvo October 25, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    Love it. !!!

  4. Ivona October 25, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    I love this…love everything about it. The mother/daughter photo got to me…

  5. victoria mitchell October 25, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    i can not wait to see the action here in Nashville! super pumped :)

  6. Dani October 25, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    God bless you all

  7. lise October 25, 2011 at 5:17 PM


  8. david October 25, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Great twist to a great project.

  9. Eric October 25, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Awesome… what a great way to give back. Can’t wait for this year!

  10. Jack October 25, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    This is much more inspirational than thanking the photos and just giving it to them. I love it.

  11. Erin October 25, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Amazing! How empowering.

  12. Andre October 25, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    This is awesome. Really looking forward to the big day!

  13. Sohail Khwaja October 25, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    most wonderful idea. Kudos.

  14. jana October 25, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    amazing. so beautiful and powerful it made me cry. keep up the good work.

  15. Tara Leigh October 25, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    This is incredible. I love their faith! So encouraged by the people in these photos.

  16. mightymission October 25, 2011 at 6:10 PM


  17. Gail October 25, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    The portraits tell part of the story, the messages tell more–wonderful idea!

  18. Leroy Skalstad October 25, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    With all the hardships that come from living on the streets the one thing I remember the most is the loss of individuality. Thanks Jeremy for helping raise awareness that each person is a unique soul. Leroy, Formerly homeless Vietnam veteran .

  19. Jorge Ivan October 25, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    I am no longer associated with the photographer who introduced me to your project. I do remember however that there was an agreement with an entity that had agreed to donate 8 X 10 prints. It might have been Wallgreens. Is that still in place? I’m considering offering my services and recruiting make up people and maybe hair stylists but can’t afford the printing costs. Please advise. Thank you.

  20. […] This past Sunday Jeremy Cowart was working his magic for the next chapter of Help Portrait in 2011. In keeping with the tradition of Help Portrait from previous years they’ll be respecting the privacy of any and all who would like to have their portrait taken but this year they are asking those who are being photographed to share their story. Jeremy just posted an update with the vision for this years event – Check it here […]

  21. Jen May October 25, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    It was definitely an incredible event–looking forward to doing it again on Dec 10th!

  22. Heather October 25, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    What an awesome thing to do! Just made my day seeing this and the good you have done.

  23. Kari Nichols October 25, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    I don’t know any of these people, yet can’t wait to see the next picture & read the writings of each one of them! You do such important things, and they’re all based out of the perfect place in your soul!!! I would love to be a part of this someday soon!

  24. We Could All Take A Lesson From JEREMY - Kari Nichols Photography October 25, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    […] recently read Jeremy Cowart’s post on HELP-PORTRAIT and was so incredibly inspired!  Recently, Jeremy ran a Help Portrait event at Union Rescue […]

  25. Daralynn October 26, 2011 at 12:53 AM

    This is awesome!

  26. Branden Harvey October 26, 2011 at 1:16 AM

    I love this.

  27. Scott Huck (@scotthuckphoto) October 26, 2011 at 2:15 AM

    this is fantastic! I can’t wait to participate again this year!

  28. che roa October 26, 2011 at 2:17 AM

    SUPERB! <3

  29. Kathy Fulton October 26, 2011 at 3:44 AM

    The BEST!! So inspiring and honest…..beautiful!!

  30. Stewart Uy October 25, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    For a few years now I”ve been taking portraits of the homeless people i’ve come across and was able to spend some time with. I love what you’re doing here and I praise God for putting into your heart reach out to those who are looked over. I wish I had the materials to allow people to write on their photograph! That idea is genius!!!

  31. Holly October 26, 2011 at 4:28 AM


  32. Ivan Boden October 26, 2011 at 2:12 AM


  33. Richard Danter October 26, 2011 at 9:08 AM


  34. Teena McMichaelname* October 26, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    LOVE IT !!!!! This is a wonderful idea! Whoever thought this one up deserves a medal. May this help many, mant ppl. And open the eyes of those who can help.message*

  35. I’d love to see this done in Evansville! Count me in!

  36. Lilimar October 26, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    WOW!!! Amazing how much a stranger can teach you if you take the time to listen to their story.

  37. Connie Riley October 26, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    GREAT pictures & stories of how GOD is working in their life. Thank you for sharing this. I want to help in DALLAS area, just day and time hasn’t worked out. I want to take pictures. Blessings

  38. […] information about Help Portrait and photos Please Click Here blog comments powered by Disqus […]

  39. […] absolutely loving where “Help Portrait” is going, and what they have achieved so […]

  40. Shannon McFerren October 26, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    NOW I’m excited! This will touch them, but God will touch me more, I have a feeling…..

  41. Juli L. October 26, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    This is so wonderful! Thank you to all of you for sharing. What beautiful people! :)

  42. Jenny Hansen October 26, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! You guys are truly amazing! Such an inspiration!

  43. Thank You All Who Have Signed-Up! October 26, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    […] 1. These photos can NOT be used for your portfolio.  But we can share photos with the subjects story ONLY if permission is granted by the subject. Releases will be available. Stories can be shared here, on your personal blog, the official Help-Portrait site, etc as long as it abides by release rules (don’t portray the subject in a bad light, and remember these photos are to create a sense of worth so be careful with how you present them). You can find out more here: […]

  44. Matt Carter October 27, 2011 at 5:57 AM

    I loved seeing all of these photographs with each person’s unique individual touch. Thank you for doing this. I know it’s encouraging to not only the subjects of the photos, but also to myself and everyone who sees these images. Thank you for serving and glorifying God the way that you do through Help-Portrait!

  45. Charlene Chavez October 27, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    This is great to lift up their spirits and remind them they are people and that they matter no matter what their story is!

  46. ~AR October 28, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Awesome! Love the idea! The personalization of the portraits is extremely moving! I’m going to talk this over with the other photographers that are doing the event I’m doing the H-P event with this year, and I know we’re going to use some of these ideas! Great job!
    Do you happen to have a PDF of the release you used? Would make good resource material for the event.

  47. Happy Monday – Fun Finds #8 « Tuuli Platner Photography October 31, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    […] Help Portrait is one of the best ways to use photography for good – and here’s the evidence. […]

  48. Stephanie D November 10, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    All of these amazing photos made me cry. I love their stories and the new changes. Can’t wait to be part of this amazing event this year!

  49. Help-Portrait: Photographers giving back through photography « The View From Here– December 30, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    […] become the photographer. The folk over at Help-Portrait did a mini event this past weekend, and the stories and photos shared on their blog are truly […]

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