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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Help Portrait 2011

I am priveledged and honored to once again be invited to participate in this year's Help Portrait event held in my local capital of Salt Lake City.  If you haven't heard about Help Portrait and you are an amateur or professional photographer, you need to stop what you are doing right now and check out the link.  In a nutshell, Help Portrait is an annual international event started by Jeremy Cowart where photographers all around the world grab there cameras and donate their time and talents, finding people in need, and taking their picture.  We then edit, print, and deliver the image to the people on the spot.  The people could be those of less fortune, including homeless, single parents, low income families, and pretty much anyone who wants to come get there portrait taken.

These images aren't for financial gain, portfolios, or taking the picture.  In Jeremy Cowarts words, Help Portrait is about GIVING the picture.

Help Portrait Promotional Video

See some of the amazing images from our local Help Portrait Event and dive into some of the heart felt emotions shared that day after the jump.
Disclaimer: All subjects featured in these images gave their written consent to have their photographs shared

This year's Salt Lake City Help Portrait once again was organized by Dave Brewer, a local talented photographer and amazing man who strives to help his community.  We had a treat this year as our venue was updated and relocated to Dave's new studio, the Salt Lake Photo Collective.  Although the square footage was smaller, there were enough volunteers and people to fill the room ten fold.  The physical location was also within three blocks of the local shelter, which made the patrons' traveling distance far less and easier than previous years.  Rather than haul my entire studio setup down to the Collective, Dave and I consulted and figured it would be much more efficient for me to utilize one of the 3 Head Shot stations.
I teamed up with fellow friend and photographer, Travis Hougland of Hougland Imagery to where we could combine forces and operate the station together.  I met Travis a couple years ago at the first Help Portrait and ever since, we've talked shop and collaborated together on several productions.  The one and only Steve Berlin of Berlin Motion Picture Light and Shadow donated his time and talents for the cause as well.  Steve is an extraordinary Gaffer in the film community and has been a tremendous and influential mentor in educating me in continuous and motion picture lighting.  I've in turn have been assisting Steve in learning about strobes and still photography.

Our setup was simple and clean.  We used Travis' 500 watt Hensel's coupled to two very large six foot Strip Boxes, complete with Grids to create a very soft and directional rim light on both sides of our subjects.  We then used my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra coupled to a medium Soft Box as a Key Light.  We mounted it to a boom so we could adjust it's position relative to what person we were to be photographing i.e. an overhead on-axis Butterfly Light for females or an directional 45/45 degree Rembrandt Setup for males. Part of the Help Portrait workflow is to be able to edit, print, and deliver the images while the patrons wait, so shooting tethering in to Lightroom was a must.  Travis and I had 2 workstations to edit and export from.  A string of volunteers stood on their feet all day managing the printers and running memory cards back and forth between them and the photographers.

We received all sorts of people, each with their own story to tell.  This gentleman was a delight to photograph and was loving being in front of the camera as much as I loved being behind it.  He had this unique look and long locks of hair that he had no hesitation in using.

His story was one of personal loss and tragedy.  I could see the pain behind his eyes during our brief time shooting together.   Although the entire Help Portrait event touched  me on a personal level, this particular guy really struck chord with me.  I remember how much I enjoyed editing the above images of him as quickly as I could as there were others waiting patiently to have their portrait taken.  I remember how excited he was as his images rolled out of the printer and I placed them in the envelope and placed them in his hand while shaking his other.  I wished him luck in his endeavors and he was gone as quickly as he came in.

In summary, Help Portrait is one of the primary things I look forward to each holiday season and as long as I am welcome, I will continue take part.  It takes a lot of work, sponsorship, and planning to organize such an event.  I like to give special thanks to Dave Brewer and all the volunteers, photographers, videographers, makeup and hair artists, and others who donated their time and talents to make the 2011 Help Portrait the most successful yet.  

2012 is going to be a big year with even more Behind the Scene's videos, a feature length film, and a drive to push our children's web series, Bad Arnie over the top.  The Christmas Episode was climbing at a viral rate of 30, 000 views a day

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