A picture is worth a thousand words. Professionally shot and printed portraits of your family when you’ve maybe never had them before? A thousand stories and a million smiles.
Residents at Solid Ground’s Sand Point Housing campus were grinning ear-to-ear on Saturday, December 1, when the international Help-Portrait movement set up shop in the basement of Santos Place to shoot and print portraits for campus residents for free.
Help-Portrait was founded by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart in 2008. Its mission is to empower photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists to use their skills, tools and expertise to give back to their local community.
Each December, volunteers from the Netherlands to Indonesia and Delaware to Seattle partner with agencies such as Solid Ground to take, print and deliver free-of-charge professional portraits.
“The portraits were such a wonderful thing to be able to have here. I highly doubt that our families have the extra money to capture their children’s lives as they grow in professional portraits,” says Areej Zaitoun, Sand Point Housing Program Manager.
“People were dressed in their best party wear or hanging out in Seahawks gear. Grumbling teens shed their jackets to goof off in front of the cameras. Moms and little girls lit up when they heard the words ‘hair and makeup.’ And [there were] a lot of very silly babies. It was just wonderful to watch!” -Tamara Brown, Sand Point Housing Program Manager
“Help-Portrait Day was truly a gift of love to the community. It built relationships, captured beauty, and created memories. I found it a blessing to know that giving is really receiving,” says Lauren Heerschap, who coordinated the local event. A Board Member of the Northwest Council of Camera Clubs, Lauren recruited 31 volunteers including photographers Bruce Weber, Richard Singleton, John Cornicello, photo editors, makeup and hair stylists, and community volunteers to keep everything flowing.
A few special moments, as reported by Lauren:
- A woman came out of the makeup room and turned so her young son could see her. He beamed for a moment and said, “Mom! You are beautiful!”
- A 2-year-old girl was not cooperative when the photographer tried to pose her on a chair. She fussed and fussed until the photographer took his camera off the tripod and showed her the back of it, with her sister’s photo glowing on the screen. She quieted, walked back under the lights, and climbed in the chair all by herself.
- One mother and daughter combination had their first-ever photo taken, which they excitedly talked about sending to their 97-year-old grandmother.
Forty-six families had portraits taken – a total of 144 people and over a dozen pets walked out with stars in their eyes, light on their cheeks, and the promise of prints to be delivered in just over a week.
“I think that part of the day’s experience for all of us – including the residents, volunteers and staff – was how important family is, and what fun it is to come together and connect,” says Tamara Brown, Sand Point Housing Program Manager.
“People were dressed in their best party wear or hanging out in Seahawks gear. Grumbling teens shed their jackets to goof off in front of the cameras. Moms and little girls lit up when they heard the words ‘hair and makeup.’ And [there were] a lot of very silly babies. It was just wonderful to watch!
“And there was a sense of belonging in the room, it didn’t matter where you came from. Lauren and the volunteers from Help Portrait were so welcoming to our residents. A really lovely day for everyone, I think.”
It couldn’t have happened without our sponsors:
⇒ Center for Spiritual Living ⇒ Glazer’s Camera ⇒ Microsoft Benevity Matching Funds ⇒ Mt. Baker Camera Club ⇒ Northwest Council of Camera Clubs (NWCCC) ⇒ OneLife Community Church | Community Dinner – Magnuson ⇒ Puget Sound Camera Club ⇒ Seattle Mountaineers Photography ⇒ Solid Ground Housing
Featured image at top: Lhorna Murray, her children, and Rolo the dog pose while volunteers look on.