Help-Portrait in one week

In 2009, I was inspired by a video by Nashville-based photographer Jeremy Cowart. The video was a call to find someone in need, take their photo, print it and then deliver it to them. The call struck a chord with me.

(12/6/10) Kevin Richtik owner of the Stockton-based Caroline’s Photography takes a picture during the Help-Portrait event at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless’s family Shelter in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD FILE]

For awhile, I had been looking for a way to give back to the community.
Afterall, all I do is take pictures. It is how I support my family but I felt that I could not use my skills to feed or clothe anyone of need just by taking their picture. Cowart and the movement that he called Help-Portrait helped me to realize that I could use my gifts to gift others. In turn, I put out a call on social media and my friends and colleagues responded. The community responded as well. Photographers, photo processors and other members came to help.

(12/6/10) Danielle & Sheena Coe have their photo take at the Help-Portrait event at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless. [CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD FILE]

We held our first Help-Portrait in 2009, and we were not the only ones.
Thousands of people around the world organized their own events and took pictures of hundreds of thousands of people on that single day. Many of us have been going strong ever since.

Maria Mota Lopez, seated, has her picture take with her children Alexis, 7, left, Juan, 12, and Rosie, 10, at the Help-Portrait event at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD FILE]

The event is usually held on the first Saturday in December. This year we are going to hold it on the last Saturday in November — Nov. 30 —  at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless. This call out is to you, we need your help. We have photographers. We have photo supplies — Tim Ulmer of UlmerPhoto who has printed the pictures for free every year.
But we need makeup artists. We have limited makeup supplies (brushes and applicators) but we need someone with skill to prepare people to have their picture taken.

Special Valdovinos, left, looks at her pictures with her 6-year-old son Jacob at the Help-Portrait event at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD FILE]

Nothing has been more heartwarming  than to see the smiles of the men, women and children who see themselves, many often for the very first time, in a professional photographic print. Come Nov. 30, we’ll those smiles again. Please contact me if you can help.

Contact photographer Clifford Oto at (209) 546-8263 or

(12/6/10) — Daniel Hawthorne and his mother Chea Rodgers at the Help Portrait session held at the Stockton Family Shelter. Photo by Kevin Richtik

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