In the spirit of the Christmas season, several Winnipeg photographers spent a Saturday afternoon in early December to give back in time and our collective photography talents to provide photos for those less fortunate.
Help Portrait is a global movement that provides free professional portraits to those who normally can only afford the bare necessities.
We finished printing a set of photos for a mother and daughter at Siloam Mission, I walked up to them with two 5×7 prints. One of was of the mother and daughter, which the mother would keep. The other was a solo portrait of her daughter (names witheld). The mother asked her daughter, “Who’s that?” After several moments staring at the photo, the little girl answered, “That’s me!” and followed by the biggest smile.
Walking away, I was approached by a gentleman that told me, “That girl is really shy and she doesn’t say much. You guys are doing an amazing job. Thank you!” Little did I know, that was also her first big girl photo and all I can picture is the little girl’s smile as she gazed at her photo.
The old say goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” On Help Portrait day at Siloam Mission, the words, “That’s me!” are the two words that made it worthwhile not to mention the smiles we brought to everyone’s face.
I am especially grateful for the photographers that donated their time, talent and gear to making all three Help Portrait Winnipeg locations a huge success. Siloam Mission was where I was volunteering, and the other two locations were Agape Table and Win Gardner Place. At the end of the day, it’s all about giving back to the communities we live in.
Shortly after our Help Portrait event at Siloam Mission, we received the following letter:
We’re extremely grateful for what you did for our guests on Saturday. It was a great day of building community, forging some friendships and nurturing relationships. Many of our guests have Christmas memories they would rather forget because of the circumstances they were going through at the time.
What you did for them on Saturday was create new memories that they’ll be fond to look back on years from now. The last lady to be photographed at Siloam walked into the elevator and said “It’s a Christmas to remember.” Another fellow had not had a picture of himself in more than 10 years. He said he’d give his picture to his 82-year-old mom. Yet another man said he’d use the picture on his resume.
I want to especially commend you for taking the time to talk with the people you photographed. You got to them a bit, asked them a few questions and helped them feel at ease – all in a very respectful way that provided dignity.
I hope you know what you’ve done for the people you photographed.
This wasn’t just about a photograph; this was about somebody coming in from the outside to show them that people do care. It was about creating a sense of identity for many of them, boosting self-esteem and creating memories.
Check out Help-Portrait.com for more information. Until next year’s Help Portrait event, “Say Cheese!” and keep on smiling!