I credit myself as incredibly lucky. I work with amazing individuals, many who are willing to go above and beyond for others.
Record photographer Clifford Oto exemplified that on Dec. 15 when he organized a group of photographers to take beautiful portraits of homeless individuals at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless on Harrison Street near downtown Stockton.
He started setup before 9 a.m. He stayed the whole day. He worked with six other photographers to shoot professional portraits of people who likely wouldn’t have been able to pay for their own. He coordinated with Tim Ulmer of Ulmer Photo, who donated the prints for free as well.
I wrote the A1 story about the event today. I also shot video at the event.
More than 100 portraits were shot, Oto said when he came by the newsroom later in the evening on his way home.
The number is significant when you consider the preparation behind something of this magnitude. Seven photographers from all over and outside the area coming together to help. No money was exchanged. No bills will be presented. It was all for the good of others.
We do stories similar to this during the holidays. We also have a multi-day series called Spirit of Giving, where he highlight local organizations helping the community.
The Help-Portrait event, though, goes beyond a casual donation.
Those in need have spiritual and emotional needs during as well as physical. Having a portrait taken, as noted in the story, is about belonging, about family and about feeling important. In the more than three hours I stayed reporting at the event, I saw smiles and a tear or two from those being photographed.
“Is that me?” one man asked, seeing his portrait on the screen.
“This is great. More than a blessing,” said a woman.
People were genuinely warmed for this gracious gift. For that, Clifford deserves many thanks and recognition, not just from those who were photographed and those who work with him, but from the whole community.