Mark Walczak, Chicago, Illinois, USA:

For the second consecutive year, I had the pleasure of coordinating a Help-Portrait event at The Moody Church in Chicago.  This year brought greater involvement from Jim Porett and Bryan Dockett – two local photographers who worked at other sites in the past, but were able to focus their attention on Moody in 2012.  We had the privilege of serving families that were involved in the church’s Angel Tree program.  Every year, hundreds of children receive Christmas gifts that are purchased by church-goers on behalf of their parent who is incarcerated.  When it came time to distribute the gifts, the families were invited to Moody for a huge party with food and entertainment.  Before making their way to the festivities, families were given the opportunity to have group and individual portraits taken.  Every family left with three things: an 8×10 family photo, a bundle of 4×6 individual prints, and a USB flash drive that contained the digital files.  A separate 4×6 family shot was also printed, and mailed to the parent in prison.

This year, we made tremendous improvements on our workflow from last year, and I think it’s worth sharing: we decided to do all of our printing in a second room adjacent to our photo bays.  This allowed our photographers and assistants to focus on interacting with clients and giving them the best experience possible.  Our print volunteers were then able to concentrate on organizing and finishing the final product before giving it to the folks we were serving.  This made our main workspace more open and gave a calmer, more welcoming feeling for our clients.  You can download our workflow documents here:

The biggest surprise of the day came when we finally tallied up the photos and discovered that we printed approximately 500 pictures and served 95 families!  We were projecting to only help 50-75 groups, but our clients were excited and energized from their experience last year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, which supplied about thirty volunteers as well as all of the supplies for our hair and makeup department.  They were incredibly helpful, professional, and organized.  Best of all, they were experts at showing our clients the love and care that we desired to impart.

On behalf of all of the Chicago volunteers, I would like to thank Jeremy, Kyle and the entire Help-Portrait team for inspiring fellow artists to greatness, service, and community.

Help-Portrait Chicago 2012 | The Moody Church from Help-Portrait Chicago on Vimeo.