December 10th 2011 saw the 3rd annual Help-Portrait charity portrait & head shot event bringing together photographers and families in need all over the world.  Founded in 2009 by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart, Help-Portrait is community of photographers who gather in cities all across the globe to take portraits for people in need.

The idea behind the project is to give photographers an opportunity to give back to their communities and to enable individuals and families something they may have never had before – a portrait.

In addition to the photographers, in many locations, there is also a large volunteer support team all working together to do the most to deliver the best experience possible for the families. Members of the support team include, hair and makeup professional, greeters, photo retouchers, printers as well as numerous support staff helping with logistics and catering.

This year was my first time to give my time to this cause and it was extremely rewarding and something I will never forget. I took part in the event in Austin Texas on Saturday December 10th after watching avideo interview of founder Jeremy Cowart by photographer Chase Jarvis.

There were over 20 photographers signed up to donate their time for the event, and once the photographs were taken, we had a group of  people ready with laptops and Wacom tablets to get the images ready for printing. Thanks to a giant donation of frames, we were able to have the individuals and families select one to protect and display their photograph for years to come.

Thanks to the culture of giving back at Paul Mitchell, the event in Austin was wonderfully supported by staff and students from the Pflugerville Paul Mitchell school in Pflugerville. Their teams were there providing hair and makeup for those attending to have their portrait done.

Even Santa took a moment out of his busy schedule to make an appearance and made instant friends with the volunteers from the Paul Mitchell school.

In addition, the kind folks at Covenant Presbyterian donated the use of on of their event centers to host the 2011 Help-portrait event.

In the world where our typical priorities can be centered around activities like trying to provide, get ahead, succeed, increase sales, up-sell and fiscal growth etc., there is something unforgettably refreshing and just ‘right’ about doing things for those who could never repay. One of the most valuable things we have is our time, and while those less fortunate can go to a food bank or get various types of assistance to make living easier, they could potentially live without anyone ever giving them their time. There is possibly nothing that will feed the soul and restore a persons sense of  worth more than someone taking time to do something for you for without any motive to gain from it. My hope for the people we photographed, is that if their past or current circumstances have robbed them of joy and or hope, that every time they see their portrait, they will have an increased awareness of their value.

If you have ever thought of giving back to the community, this is a wonderful opportunity to do so through a well organized, global organization which continues to grow in reach every year.