Last week was especially busy for us, but I (Sarah) still found room in my schedule to be a part of the Help-Portrait event held here in Portland last Saturday. The mission of Help-Portrait? Find a needy person, take their portrait, create a print and give it to that person. Helping one person just wasn’t enough, though, and after several planning meetings and a flurry of e-mails and Google spreadsheets, we had over 30 volunteers coming together to shoot portraits for dozens of people in need!
I could only stay for the first half of the day, but the energy of the experience lifted my spirits all weekend. The atmosphere was warm and collaborative, and considering how many professional photographers were in the room, the space was ego-free. We’d share tips and chat about gear, lend a hand holding a reflector or testing lights, and back each other up whenever someone needed an assist. The volunteers who weren’t photographers were on-point and ready to help with hair and makeup, contacting organizations, sorting through images, or even just staying with folks who were waiting to have their portrait taken, so they wouldn’t feel lost in the shuffle. It was all about the people we were helping, and making it a positive experience for them.
No matter how many times I see it, it’s always a little surprising for me, to see the faces of the less-fortunate. When I visited China back in the summertime, I found myself shocked at the extreme circumstances of some of the disadvantaged people I encountered on the streets. At Help-Portrait, however, those less-fortunate faces didn’t look much different from my own. A lot of people, from all walks of life, have come up on tough circumstances these days, and it’s not hard to see it, if you look around you. Still, there were some very sweet families and freakin’ adorable kids who came to get their portraits done, and it was a lot of fun to meet all of these people, and watch them truly enjoying with their photo sessions and interacting with all the volunteers who came out.
Honestly, it’s hard to know what else to say that would even begin to encompass this experience, for someone who wasn’t there… it was just an amazing event all around, and watching the slideshow this morning was such a treat. I’m absolutely doing this again next year, and I know it’s only going to grow bigger and better!
Here’s the slideshow, with plenty of photos (including quite a few of my own) documenting the events of the day. It’s always enjoyable for me to simply watch people being themselves, and capture the bright moments.