This is a guest post from Frank Doorhof, who helps lead Help-Portrait in the Netherlands (help-portret). This is a look at how he got involved and how the Dutch do Help-Portrait.

My name is Frank Doorhof and  I’m based in the Netherlands. In “normal” life I’m a fashion photographer specializing in teaching workshops and shooting artists and models (and everything that is interesting in short).
When I joined Kelbytraining and taught my first PhotoshopWorld I got the chance to meet up with a photographer I really looked up to, Jeremy Cowart. And although we all are normal people (some more normal than others) Jeremy struck something with me, not with his photography (which I love by the way) but with the “other” work he did, one being Help-Portrait.

Now let’s make one thing very clear, I’m really busy as is Jeremy, but sometimes you just HAVE to do something, no matter what the costs, and while hanging out with Jeremy and getting to know him a little better I knew that I wanted to participate in Help-Portrait for 2011. But that is not really something I wanted to do small scale.

I knew there were some participants in the Netherlands in the previous years, but I really did not hear much in the media, or forums, magazines, etc. So I thought that it would be great if we could get all the Dutch photographers together and make a real fist towards the media, and as the saying goes over here “many hands make work lighter.”

I could not image that the responses would be so overwhelming.

We started a website with a small forum where people could join the “movement” and where could meet each other. Before we knew it there were so many people wanting to participate that I decided to assign certain regions to certain people.

After this the most difficult part started, and that’s getting the media into the project, somehow the media seems to be less than interested in the project.  The main problem is that they want a “famous” person in the “picture,” so at the moment we are just doing that.

In November we will release a Dutch theme song for Help-Portrait by a female singer and we hope that this will get us the media attention we need to make it a bigger success. However even if we don’t get the media attention it will probably work out fine. At the moment our team is contacting several organizations like the Salvation Army, local authorities, nursing homes, and we’re trying to get them to include small flyers for the people to visit help portret.

For our own location we have secured a wonderful school building. We choose this location because it’s in the middle of Emmeloord but still a bit hidden, meaning people can park in the shopping center and walk to the school and enter it without people seeing them. I’m doing the Help-Portrait sessions in my hometown, and we have a smaller community meaning some people will feel a bit hesitant to enter the building if everyone can see them going in; often people are a bit proud and don’t want to admit they are in need of help. In the bigger cities this is less of a problem and I know that some region heads have secured larger buildings that are easily accessible.

We will greet the people with coffee, tea and cake (the cake will probably be made by a nearby restaurant that has a lot of mentally challenged people working for them; in exchange for the cake we’ll give them nice images of course).

In our location we will setup seven studios. Each photographer will have his/her own studio and shoot tethered to a laptop. These images will be send to a NAS in the meeting space (which is nice and large and is in the middle of the studios) with the numbers of the studios. People can go there and choose with our editors the images they like, and they will be printed by Epson printers and given to the people.

One studio will be fitted with a large white seamless and people will be asked if they’d like to leave a note on they print. One print will be given to them and one print will be shared for the Help-Portrait movement with their story.

I don’t know how the other locations will work, this is how we work, but we communicate this to the region leaders and I think in the end it will all look a bit the same.

Our running projects at the moment:

We secured one of the largest printers in the Netherlands, Oypo, to take care of ALL printing we need on locations were the photographers cannot print themselves, they will also make a special space on their harddrive for all images with 0% margin, so people can order more or make posters etc.

This week has been very hectic with interviews and press releases that have gone out to all media, plus we are contacting some artists I know to see if we can get them on board to push the media.

It’s an ongoing battle, but we are 100% confident that Help portrait will be a huge success over here, the people are working REALLY hard, we’ve seen books with hundreds of pages of plans and region leaders running it like a small movieset with setlists, press releases etc., and some people are just doing it alone.

For the people who are participating we are now in negotiations with a printer to get small door posters with the Help=Portrait logo. This is why we think the media is so important: the logo has to be recognized by people.
Helping with that for the month November we have several so called “stopper” adds in a lot of magazines that are released nationally and are well read.

One thing I would like to add:

When I started organizing this I set one goal. I wanted Help-Portrait to be the best experience for the visitors in the Netherlands, but I also realized that if we were to communicate with the media it had to be uniform, so I clearly stated that national attention had to be run through our team, the reason for this is very simple. As a photographer I don’t need the attention of the media, I want to concentrate the focus 100% on Help-Portrait. Up until now all media attention has worked this way and has gone rather flawless.

Every country will do it differently of course, and every country has people with different needs. In the Netherlands there is some need for help but we have a reasonable good social system so we are a bit more flexible with the people we will help, I know for example that in some areas there is also a focus on visiting people in care houses, hospitals and street children. In the end it all boils down to one thing.

Give a message of hope.

Let people know that they are still there, and that there are people who care.

The hidden sadness of people can be irrelevant about having just enough money but it’s a feeling of not being worth anything and being forgotten, with Help-Portrait in the Netherlands we will also aim for those people and let them know that also they are worth having a great photograph.

We wish you all a GREAT 10 December, and our hats are off to Jeremy for getting a world movement into motion.