It’s a typically chilly Autumn day in Vancouver as the door of the Union Gospel Mission swings open. A blast of cold comes through, but with it also the warmth that emanates from the renewed soul of a man who has kicked his dark past life of addiction to the curb. Now a year clean, he is hoping to commemorate his new lease on life with a gift for his mother: the image of a transformed son with his life back on track. Ten years it has been since his image was last taken, and though happy at heart, he cannot smile for the camera lest he reveal the loss of all his teeth. A kind-hearted photographer gently coaxes him to do so without showing any of the signs indicative of prolonged drug habits and as the shutter releases, a new door opens, one through which the man now walks with a reawakened sense of purpose to share the moment with the one person he is most proud to celebrate this milestone with: Mom.
This is a true story. The year was 2011, the photographer is Roger Hur, and the project which enabled the aforementioned man to memorialize a turning point in his life is Help-Portrait Vancouver.
On Saturday December 1st 2012, a group of photographers, editors, and make-up artists will once again volunteer their time and talents to propel an annual international non-profit movement to give back to those who are less fortunate with the gift of a beautiful portrait. Spread over 60 countries in over 600 locations with more than 7000 photographers involved, we can all image how many inspirational stories have been shared throughout the world. This moment is when any one of us can help someone in Vancouver tell their story. If we pool our resources, we can easily help this wonderful project reach its goal of raising the $800 necessary to cover some basic but essential costs of production. Please consider contributing what you can through the link below.
We have the privilege of knowing two members of Help-Portrait Vancouver‘s organizing committee: 12x12ers Roger Hur and Bernard Ng, who have been involved with the project since its inaugural year in 2009. It was the vision of celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart that brought a world-wide community of photographers together. As its Mission states, Help-Portrait “is about GIVING the pictures, not taking them. These portraits are not for your portfolio, website, or for sale. Money isn’t involved here. This holiday season, you have the chance to give a family something they may have never had before – a portrait together.”
It is easy to see why Help-Portrait has captured the hearts of so many. “The participants hold their heads higher,” says Hur. “They love all the fuss we make over them. It’s an experience that I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to every year. The people that come in aren’t used to the kind of attention we’re giving them. It’s a shock to their system.”
Like us, you probably want to see some of the incredible images given by Help-Portrait. The spirit of the Vancouver event however, is to preserve the anonymity and privacy of the recipients. All the photographs are deleted as soon as they are printed so that no individual can use them for any other purpose. It keeps the event very pure in its intent and that is to give the portrait to the person. We have our own portraits to share with you though. Here are our guys who are making a difference.
Help-Portrait is a movement of photographers who are using their time, equipment and expertise to give back to those who are less fortunate.
The goal is simple:
Find someone in need, take their portrait, print their portrait, and deliver them.
Yep. It’s really that easy.