Word of mouth

Although I was committed to stay as long as it took to finish, I wasn’t sure how long the Help-Portrait event would all take. It was, after all, the very first time I had tried to organize anything like it.

Stockton Shelter for the Homeless volunteer coordinator Katie Visser told me that there were 34 families and 14 single women at the shelter, but when we arrived at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 15, only 28 had signed up. With seven photographers, I figured we could do that number in about half a day.

The first prints were handed back a few hours after we started. And things began to change. Word got out on the quality of work we were doing, and soon we had people who hadn’t initially signed up just walk in. Even people from the nearby men’s shelter showed up to have their portraits taken. About 2 p.m. Visser came up to me and asked me when I wanted to shut down the shoot. I told her that as long as people wanted their picture taken, we’d be there. I didn’t want to deny anybody the opportunity. She said that they would just keep on coming, and that I should tell her a definite time. I gave her a cutoff time of 4 p.m. Finally we were out of there about 4:45 p.m. At the end of the day we counted 128 different portraits taken.

Afterward, I stopped at The Record office to drop off some equipment, and my desk phone rang almost as soon as I walked in. It was a woman from the overflow shelter in French Camp. She said that there were six families there that couldn’t make it out to the Stockton site and wondered if we could come out there to take their photos. I set up a time for the following Monday to shoot them.

We had a much smaller crew there, just Record photo editor Craig Sanders, my daughter, Claire, and myself. Arriving at 9 a.m., we set up a small studio in one of the vacant housing units. 23 portraits later, family groups and individuals, we were done at around noon. Ulmer Photo once again made the prints, and I had them delivered by about 1:30 p.m.

Started by Nashville-based photographer Jeremy Cowert, Help-Portrait has become a worldwide movement through the modern word-of-mouth called the Internet. The main Help-Portrait group has already set a date for next year, December 4. Hopefully the local event will continue and become bigger and better.

This entry was posted in Portrait, Studio and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives