Families often get portraits taken during Christmastime, whether for Christmas cards or to remember the season. One local photographer is bringing Help-Portrait, a national movement of giving back to the community by offering free family photos.
“A picture represents so much more than a piece of paper. It is a record of our history, a vision of our future, it’s an identity, a connection and it just fills such a deep emotional need for so many,” said Maria Clark, local photographer and organizer of Owensboro’s first Help-Portrait.
Help-Portrait began in 2009 in Nashville, but has since spread across the U.S. and more than 60 countries across the world. This is the first time the event will be offered in Owensboro.
“It just grew organically fast all over the world, and now we get to bring that vision to Owensboro,” Clark said.
Clark, who has volunteered with Help-Portrait for three events, twice in Connecticut and once in Franklin, Tenn., is now looking forward to bringing the event to Owensboro this Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the second floor of the Daviess County Public Library, volunteer photographers, hair stylists, makeup artists, and community volunteers will be blessing community members who otherwise couldn’t afford a portrait.
“You meet people from all different backgrounds and with all different stories,” Clark said. “The human connections you make through these events I find are just really profound. It’s our way of serving people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to have their photos captured.”
Registration is required and nearing capacity, but volunteers are still needed to help make the event a success. Participants’ images will be lightly retouched while they wait, and one final image will be printed and hand-delivered to them before they leave. All final images from each person’s set will be made available to them as digital files as well, which they can then print and share anywhere and as much as they’d like.
“Just watching the way some of these guests receive their printed photos at the event and watching their faces and the emotions behind receiving that photo is such an experience,” Clark said. “Some haven’t had their photo made in 20 years, for some, it may be their first family photo with kids now into their teenage years, and for others, it may mean removing a scar – it’s all just so touching to see.”
With her firsthand experience and wanting to share that vision, Clark reached out to the Daviess County Public Library. With the desire to do activities geared towards community engagement she said they were excited to hear about Help-Portrait, to be the host sponsor, and really shared in the mission of what the event was all about.
“We’ve reached out to many of the local nonprofits whose clients and residents might benefit from this. We really want to reach people that may not otherwise have this opportunity and would benefit from it,” Clark said. “It’s amazing to be able to stop, connect and truly be present with those in our community that might not have the same opportunities as we may have on a regular basis. It means so much to them, and we often take that for granted. It allows us to see the world through the eyes of others.”
Clark and the team of volunteers are hoping this will become an annual event and are thankful for the many volunteers and community partners that have made it possible, especially during the season of giving.
“Throughout the year, but especially at Christmas time, we often focus on the physical human needs like food, clothing, and shelter, which are all much needed,” shared Maria. “Help-Portrait seeks to fulfill a different need, an emotional need. It’s about providing someone with a memory they may otherwise not be able to receive and hopefully give them a reason to smile.”
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Clark at email@example.com. If you would like to register for the event visit the libraries website.