Back in October, I wrote on my photography Facebook page asking for ideas for volunteering opportunities as a photographer. My awesome photog friend, Maria, replied and told me about the Help Portrait Vancouver event. Once a year, photographers, hair and make-up artists and editors come together at the Union Gospel Mission in East Vancouver to take portraits for people for free.
Some of these people coming through the door have not had their portraits taken in many years. Some moms would not have portraits of their babies because it is already a struggle to keep everyone clothed and fed. There were people there from all walks of life, and everyone loved having their photos taken and printed on the spot.
The event is nothing short of incredible. Five studio were set up, each staffed with 3 or 4 photographers. Beau Photo in Vancouver donated the use of a whole bunch of equipment, Bread Garden donated fresh food, Starbucks donated coffee, professional photographers hauled in their studio lights and equipment, and we all pitched in to make people feel special and beautiful.
At some point during the event, I became the Chinese grandma specialist. Because I could speak Mandarin, the organizer just started directing all the Chinese grandmas to me. They were all so sweet, and so happy to have beautiful portraits taken of them. It was very heartwarming to see their big smiles. Unfortunately I can’t keep or share their photos with you here because I do not have copy right to their portraits.
Here’s a photo of Maria and I after the event, taken by the very talented (and very funny) Gerry Rousseau.
We also made the news on CBC:
The Help Portrait segment starts at 13:48, with yours truly photographing a Chinese grandma.