Jeremy Cowart: Help-Portrait

Public Service Announcement. I meant to get this up last week, but was buried. Great idea pulled together by fellow photog, Jeremy Cowart, that he ran with first over at Scott Kelby’s blog and then followed at

We don’t need to know the details here, but if you are planning to help, say so here. It will inspire others to do the same. I plan to help. Will you?

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114 Responses to Jeremy Cowart: Help-Portrait

  1. JVL August 31, 2009 at 9:06 am #

    There are a few Flickr groups in areas popping up already discussing helping out. I'm totally in – though there are an abundance of photogs – so my goal is to help source wardrobe, makeup, lighting peeps.

  2. Ray K August 31, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    Planned on it as 12/12 was my Dads Birthday and I can't think of a better way to honor his memory than giving.

  3. Jonathan Frazier August 31, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    Absolutely. Out here in Nashville local to Jeremy…it's going to be a tremendous day to give back to the community…already losing sleep with excitement.

  4. Tom August 31, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    Yes! The very active Photographers in Perth (Western Australia) will answer the call!! – Planning is already under way in our forums :)

  5. PhotographerJava August 31, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    Austin is in. I will be working with the good folks with the Austin Photography Group to put together a big event. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community, help our less experienced members learn, and promote APGs mission to promote the art of photography. I am very excited, and so are our members.

  6. Matt Beaty August 31, 2009 at 9:30 am #

    Absolutely! Working on doing it once every 2 months.

  7. Jeremy Cowart August 31, 2009 at 9:30 am #

    Just saw this pop up in my email inbox. I'm a big fan of your blog Chase and I really appreciate you helping us spread the word! It's going to be an incredible thing this Christmas to see so many people moved by the power of photography. Thanks again!

  8. August 31, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    Thank you, Jarvis for posting this.

    A couple of thoughts:

    I am often surprised at the amount of effort it takes in the states to just imagine one can be of service to others and/or a community in need.

    And the best our society allows us to do is to do a one-day a year event. Makes me wonder how much how human solidarity we have lost in the states.

    Though, it gives me a great deal of relief seeing efforts like this.

    In the developing world (i am currently stationed in South-America), ordinary people, very poor people, with nothing in their pockets, help others day in and day out without a second thought, not because their concience tells them to (that is already a given), but because they intrinsically know each human being depends on their fellow/sister human beings to survive in this world.

    I challenge all of us here to make a point to donate our services to one or two or several charities in our community, not one day a year, but to make it a life-long commitment to the best of our capacity.

    Pro-bono work is the most rewarding part of my sapling photography business. To look at the faces of those whose cause i can benefit, and sometimes tremendously, with just a few hours of photography once a month, nothing enriches my life more.

    We need to make the idea of being of service to others on an ongoing basis, a part of our individual, community, and national make-up.

    If we want to see a better world, it is up to each one of us to put her and his grain of rice on that bowl, day in and day out.


  9. downtown Imagery August 31, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    I'm down for helping out in Austin and have some great Austin related ideas. Looking forward to working with others on this.


  10. Jamie Lapeyrolerie August 31, 2009 at 9:41 am #

    I am so in!! Glad I checked and found some Austin connections – YES!!!

  11. Roger August 31, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Chase – I'm down. For sure. See here –

  12. stephen Hunton August 31, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    Yep. I'm in. I actually may not be in Atlanta (where I live), so I'm hoping to jump on with some photogs in TX on the 12th, since I may be there.

  13. Mindaugas August 31, 2009 at 10:31 am #

    My colleagues and I will join with pleasure to this movement of life.

  14. DFJ August 31, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Already been organizing a group of talent in Austin since I heard about it a week or so ago! We'll be working in studio and on location.

  15. Stephan Mantler August 31, 2009 at 10:45 am #

    I've been planning to do something similar here in Austria, so I'll be glad to adjust my plans and join in…

  16. Kate Ford August 31, 2009 at 10:46 am #

    I'm so excited about this project count me in!

  17. AdamBoon August 31, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    I'm really up for this, hopefully such a small town in the UK is up for taking part in something like this. Maybe Cambridge will be a better location, i'll try to make it up there.

  18. 金田一 August 31, 2009 at 10:59 am #

    Hi, there.I am Gerry from Malaysia.. been following your blog for quite a long time..
    I have a small photography club in here, Malaysia, Sabah.
    we do video hobbies and lotsa thing too.
    I think with the small power as I am the little leader from this small group can help out and join in the project.

    amaze by your work and really inspired by your work and who you are.
    me and all my friends love ya..

  19. Janelle August 31, 2009 at 11:01 am #

    I'm helping in Utica, New York. It's a small city but I figure I can try my best! This is a fantastic idea. Best to all the photographers contributing!

  20. Dennis Pike August 31, 2009 at 11:07 am #

    I'll be doing it, I did a post on blog asking for people to send me ideas for people to use and I will pick the best

  21. Callum Winton August 31, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    Hmm. Not one for me and I'll explain why

    I think we would better serve those in need by helping in a more practical way rather then taking pictures.

    I say put the camera down, roll your sleeves up and get stuck in instead.

    I'd prefer to see a picture of that


  22. P.T. Korson August 31, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    Right on board, working to make this happen in Jackson, MI

  23. D. Shun-Luoi Fong August 31, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    Getting the process started here in Colorado Springs. Any other Front Range photographers want to join in? I'm excited to be a part of it!

  24. Sahlfoto August 31, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    I'm a young photographer from Denmark, and I'm so in on this. I live i Aarhus, and so far i haven't heard anything about this in my area. But if anyone from Denmark reads this, contact me. We will make this happen!

  25. SDesigns Photography August 31, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

    I'm in, and I thimk my club will be, too. I'm inviting the beauty school to help–set a precedent of service with t ose students, too.

  26. Anonymous August 31, 2009 at 3:43 pm #

    Hmmmmm I am not to sure about this. Why exactly do we need to "come together" on this one day. Is this all about jeremy and many people he can say he mobilised? I really dont get it.

    We go out and force images onto people who really are asking for help not pictures?

    Isnt giving about first understanding what someone needs help with?

    Isnt this some really self indulgent almost to the point of patronising stuff?

    Am I the only one that struggles with Jeremy's over the top jelled hair style? I mean if you are going to be 'real' then be real. Dont try to come across like an over styled tosser.

    "People in desperate need of their picture taken. Help now"…..I've heard it all.

    Get out from under your own egos. Pictures arent the answer to the worlds problems.

    If you want to help people in this world then first stop and actually listen to what their needs are. Then go about helping.

    To suggest this is anything other than self indulgent "oh look I can get an excuse to practice my portrait taking abilities rather than actually care about helping others" crap is ludicrous.

    Get a grip. While you are all planning this absolute garbage with your makeup artists and lighting diagram planning, revelling in your amateur hour photographic self obsession, I will be doing my usual thing down helping out a real charity.

    I'm blown away by the stupidity of this. There is a time to pick up the camera and a time to put it down.

    'Oh look there is a homeless guy. Quick Julie you do his makeup while I setup the Profoto packs. Dont let him disappear. Wow this shot will be great in this deserted warehouse where he lives. What a location!! You cant beat it. Is the inkjet printer running on the generator yet we are ready to print from the MacBook Pro live from the homeless guys warehouse. Tell him we cant frame it because that would cost too much. Besides he can just tuck it underneath the cardboard that he sleeps on of a night. Awesome what a great day we had. Took some fantastic images. I bet that homeless guy LOVED it. We should invite him over for one of our Poker sessions on friday night. Nahhhh.'

    Get a grip.

  27. Anonymous August 31, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    So tell me again, how does a photograph help the single mother of three?

    We don't need more cameras. Put the camera down for once. Get a mop, get a bucket, get a vacuum, get some paint and brushes. Hell, offer to babysit. You don't even need a special day to do that.

  28. PaulR August 31, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    lol- you know- there is a certain wisdom to what Anonymous had said. I saw the video and it seemed really insincere. Almost like he was joking!

    I have a better idea- why not take those over priced 2.8 lens and sell them. Than, buy a kit lens, and prove the old adage that its the photographer that makes the image and not the gear.

    With the difference in cash, we can donate it to a charity because as we all know- money talks- BS walks!

  29. Jeremy Cowart August 31, 2009 at 8:14 pm #

    Hey anonymous and others who left negative comments. I get it. I kinda understand where you're coming from. In fact, it reminds me that we left one VERY important part out of the video on accident. Kinda blows my mind that we forgot it actually. I had it written down in the original copy that the "picture-taking" should be the catalyst.. the beginning of a relationship. I'm hoping people will think to take blankets, books, food, whatever resources they have access to.

    Cause let's be honest. Chances are good that this Christmas many of us wouldn't have done ANYTHING for charity or anyone else. But this is an amazing excuse to go find people in need, use our gift as a gift and have conversations with people. I love the idea of making prints cause it forces us to RE-VISIT them and have that 2nd interaction. The vision is to build relationships. That's why I de-emphasized us and our photos/portfolios.

    Again, I get what you're saying but this is hopefully just the beginning of building some bridges. I know it sounds cheesy but it's the truth.

    And yes, my hair is overstyled. You win.

  30. Jeremy Cowart August 31, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    Oh and I'm not only "Hoping" people will go the extra mile and bring food or blankets or books, etc but we're going to make that a major issue in our next video that we release (which won't feature me or my overstyled head). I think a family photo will offer a single mother of 3 a lot of hope and huge reason to smile. As a parent of 2, I know she will be incredibly grateful for those photos for years to come. But yeah how cool would it be if she also received some things to help her NOW. Yeah we'll make that a major part of our campaign from this point forward.

  31. Jeremy Cowart August 31, 2009 at 8:27 pm #

    Okay, okay. Last comment. I also agree that the video came across as a little odd. I've never done this kind of thing, never recorded my voice or videotaped myself "selling an idea". It's so awkward. They kept telling me to slow down and to smile more. It was odd, the whole experience. I almost canned it and went with text only. But I think videos are just more personal despite my many flaws. Thanks again for listening everyone. I'm done now.

  32. Britt Chudleigh August 31, 2009 at 9:31 pm #

    Doing it.

  33. Anonymous August 31, 2009 at 9:41 pm #


    I am the original anon. Firstly I appreciate your follow up. I was a bit harsh but it felt right at the time. I dont think you are a 'tosser' per say I was just wanting to pick on your hair styling ;)

    I definitely think the video came across as a 'preaching from the ivory towers – look at my gelled hair – funky rim lighting' type thing. But you are probably a very nice person and willing to do good things for people.

    I hope it takes off for you in the sense that you can make positive contributions to less fortunate people in society above and beyond having a cool picture taken.

    The video you need to make is a practical example of the 'concept' at work. Get out of the loft apartment/studio and show us the concept as you see it playing out and the impacts it can make in the broader community.

    Show the emotional enrichment of a free portrait coupled with practical help/charity work can be an effective gateway to a deeper understanding of the plight of others – bringing about broader community cohesion.

    Anyway best wishes with the efforts you make and most importantly always take anonymous criticism with a grain of salt. ;)

  34. Andrew Woodhosue September 1, 2009 at 1:16 am #

    Chase, this sounds like a great idea and a great cause.
    Photography Ramblings

  35. Tuffer September 1, 2009 at 2:52 am #

    The Seattle Flickr Group is already in :)

    (obviously you are welcome to join us if you want! mail me if you do.)

  36. PaulR September 1, 2009 at 4:23 am #

    @Jeremy- Im also glad you took a moment to clarify your video. IMHO, it really is a little-"odd"- but I do believe you are passionate about this now.

    For whats its worth- Im still not sure why a person in distress would want a picture. I would like to make a more realistic suggestion.

    I do a Santa gig for a few weeks every year. I stand by the door and also a few feet from where the money is being collected. At least once or twice a night I get folks entering the area and I can hear them tell their kids or family that they cant afford the picture.

    Im always quick to tap the person on the shoulder and tell them to get online- the pics on the house.

    You can see the joy on their face and I do think its makes a difference for them for the holiday season.

    So my suggestion is for anybody out there thinking what they can do- why not have a free santa shoot!

    If you cant afford the prints- offer a free CD. Chances are they can at least afford a few prints from Walmart.

  37. André Weigel September 1, 2009 at 4:26 am #

    Absolutely great and pretty nice idea !

  38. Jeffrey Chapman September 1, 2009 at 4:32 am #

    I'm in. (And I'm also in the Utica area; so Janelle if you'd like to collaborate let me know.)

  39. Picture life on an island... September 1, 2009 at 4:33 am #

    Jeremy, I am not only thoroughly inspired by your idea, I am impressed by your humble response to anonymous criticism.

    Count me in…I'll do what I can…not sure how yet, but I'll find a way, photographically…and otherwise.

    Chase, thanks for the post.

  40. Jean September 1, 2009 at 4:47 am #

    Ottawa, Ontario Canada is in!

  41. /Rikke, Copenhagen September 1, 2009 at 5:51 am #

    I've done it and it is an amazing experience to give a homeless man a portrait of him and his dog. It lightens your heart and brigthens his day

  42. AJ Sullivan September 1, 2009 at 5:53 am #

    Pretty cool idea. In regards to the negativity, I think people often think of the lowest common denominator in regards to outreach type stuff. Its not only the homeless and the completely impoverished that could benefit from this. When I originally heard this idea, first thing that came to mine was family portraits for farm workers in my area. They have homes, they make money (but not enough to afford something like a family portrait or other luxuries) and I also realize that many of them have little to no photographical record. Its a little thing, that may not mean a ton to us, as most of us are toting around thousands in equipment, sitting on our asses and making bank doing so at times, but a lot of times the little things make a world of difference, as well as just someone showing that they give a damn that you exist for a change.

  43. Jeff Rodgers September 1, 2009 at 6:05 am #

    It's hard for me to take any anonymous comments serious. It seems rather timid to make harsh comments from the back of the room. If you have a genuine critique, say it. Don't be afraid of a reaction to your own opinion. Sure, it might make you tone down the harshness a bit but you should be able to still express a dissenting view.

    I love it when people have a different opinion. It's the concept of anonymous comments that bug me.

  44. David Bean September 1, 2009 at 7:15 am #

    To those making negative comments, if you don't know Jeremy as I do, you don't how deeply sincere he is about this undertaking.

    He has always not wanted this to be about him. It's something he really struggled with to convey.

    He's not doing this for him, I promise!

    Sure taking a portrait is not rebuilding someone's home. BUT think for a minute about how many lower income families would love photos of their family to hang on their wall but can't afford to have it done.

    I was a part of the original one we all did last year. If you could have seen the look on the Mom's eyes when they were having their photos taken and when they saw them on the screen. It was priceless.

    Sure, we could all do more in life, but are you going to dis someone for at least doing something. Something is way better than doing nothing.

  45. Zack Arias September 1, 2009 at 8:05 am #

    You know, cynics do so much to help people out.

    "Hi, I have an idea that will bless people."

    "I don't like your hair."


    I'm inspired by this video and I'm jumping in with whatever stuff I have to give to help out! I'm glad you did this video Jeremy and thanks Chase for spreading the word about it.

    I know these negative comments become the squeeky wheel and I hate that about it, but I have an idea where they can put the oil. ;p


    • sam bones October 28, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      please oil my rim … lighting zach. yur the bset fauxtographer evar!

  46. Tim September 1, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    I agree this is and will be special for a lot of families. My girlfriend is a first grade teacher with a lot of lower income families. I know most of them and they will love this. Lexington KY is down! Jeremy we get it!


  47. Rob September 1, 2009 at 8:23 am #

    I have been following the Help Portrait idea since Jeremy first started on about it, right through to the donated logo submissions. Truth be told I just couldn't sign up to an act of charity i didn't believe in. I feel the same way about this as some of the others here but to chicken shit too slag a fellow shooter.

    I think Jeremy's quite sincere in his motivations although the "blanket" stuff after the fact did feel a bit like crisis control. His video was ok.

    There are many ways we can help homeless people. This has always seemed to me to be too contrived…like another version of Scott Kelby's world wide photo walks but in the name of benevolence.

    The fact is these people could use a lot of things. A photograph of themselves is not one of them.

    All the best Jeremy.


  48. Ben De Rienzo September 1, 2009 at 8:36 am #

    I agree with Bean. Last Christmas, after a need was expressed, I offered up some family portraits for the inner city neighborhood that our church youth serve every month, and they were ecstatic!

    Of course, a picture doesn't excite us—we're photographers that will snap a shutter 2000+ times a day for certain jobs.

    But, these folks that we served—moms had their first babies at an average age of 16—they would never take their families down to Sears or The Picture Place and get images of their kids. They are buying food, clothes and other necessities with that money. And a lot of months, there's barely enough to do that. So, we're pretty sure they didn't have a stash of good family images to cherish down the road.

    I know these guys, and was at the initial brainstorming / idea presentation lunch. Jeremy's legitly passionate about doing this, and wants this to be a photo community outreach. So, it starts as one day…the point is you start somewhere with an idea, and hopefully it grows to once a quarter, once a month. And the ultimate result would be, as marcoaurelio discussed, that even one photographer would build a lasting relationship with a help_portrait recipient.

    So, individually, if this is the only charitable act you do all year—it's much better than nothing. Hopefully, you'll realize that, with a little bit of time / guts / effort, you can make a difference in other people's lives, and you can leave your camera home to do it as well.

    About the hair thing…I just hope he's using some healthy stuff that doesn't have all those nasty chemicals.

  49. Aaron Greene September 1, 2009 at 8:48 am #

    I went to hear Jeremy speak in Nashville several months ago and I emailed him to see if we could have coffee and chat a bit.

    He had a pretty big shoot the next morning at 10am and he still have me his time before then and answered a couple of questions I had over breakfast.

    Couldn't be a nicer guy. Anon, you should meet him sometime.

  50. Jeremy Cowart September 1, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    Rob you should try it for yourself. Go spend some quality time with some people in need and take their pictures and give them prints. Then tell me if they didn't "need" that. Or better yet, tell me YOU didn't "need" that. Then get back to me, would ya? Our event last year left me glowing and inspired for weeks or well.. apparently still a year later.

  51. Jeremy Cowart September 1, 2009 at 9:08 am #

    Still in a state of disbelief at your comments Rob. Saying people don't need photos is like saying people don't need to be loved. People don't need a sense of dignity. People don't need to feel beautiful. People don't need to remember. People don't need to feel normal.

    It's just crazy talk.

  52. PaulR September 1, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    Jeremy- one of the reasons I left a "cynic" comment is because I work for a soup kitchen several days a month. I often have my camera near by but have learned to keep the lens cover on. For many people- these are just hard times. They are working for and hoping for better days. A photo is a reminder of a time that many would rather not have.

    "oh yeah- and this is what I looked like right after the bank forclosed my home"

    This isnt being a cynic- I think its being thoughtful.

    Anybody who thinks otherwise clearly never had to forage for a meal or had to wonder where they are sleeping tonight.

    There are too many people out there that pretend to be charitable but really are only looking to exploit the situation for their own means!

  53. Jeremy Cowart September 1, 2009 at 9:35 am #

    Great thoughts Paul but here's the deal. The photos are being kept private. We don't want anyone to showcase them to protect the identities of those being photographed. Also the photos are a voluntary for the subjects. We're not going around and shooting them like paparazzi. These are for people who WANT to remember and who WANT to capture their babies at that age. Or for people in Africa who have never had their picture taken. Or for a parent who's about to lose their child in a hospital and doesn't have any recent photos. This idea goes far beyond a soup kitchen. Again, good thoughts though.

    • sam bones October 28, 2012 at 10:36 am #

      That’s because in Africa the camera will steal their souls, then you have to give their soul back to them so they don’t slaughter more Albinos for their magical limbs. Why do we whiteys always have to use Africa as the example of the world’s greatest sh1t hole? Try Camden NJ.

  54. nikki September 1, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    I have been following this from the beginning and have been SO excited about the possibility. I am absolutely floored that this simple idea of giving people portraits of themselves and their families has caused this much controversy. Really? People don't "need" photos… hmmm… I am in southern California where there is the biggest fire since 1897 and what is the one thing people are taking from their homes before anything else – photographs. They are important. They are necessary. They are the one "luxury" in life that a lot of these people we are talking about cannot get.

    Why is it wrong to give people something so simple and easy to do and would bring SO much pleasure. Not just for the now but for the future. Our group is going to be taking photos of families in a women's shelter. These are people that have rarely felt beautiful, have rarely had their kids' photos taken. Why is it wrong to make someone else feel good about themselves.

    Sure, maybe it's not getting down into the fray but I bet (like Jeremy said) plenty of these groups will also be donating clothes, blankets, other necessary items along with the photos. I know our group will. This isn't just about photos. It's about using our special gifts to bless other people.

    We have gifts not everyone has and we should be able to use those gifts for others – not just to make money for ourselves. We use the gifts we have. This is a way we can give back. Who cares if the video was professional or cheesy (which I didn't think it was)? Who cares if Jeremy's hair doesn't look a certain way? That is not the point. The point is to get off our asses, stop trying to see how we can make more money, and go help someone else. Period.

  55. ksaim September 1, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Crazy that most of the naysayers don't really "get it".

    This isn't just about homeless people, cause you're right, a homeless person probably doesn't want / need a photo. But what about those that are less fortunate and DO WANT a photo. It might be the only opportunity some families ever get to have a family portrait. I can think of a number of families at my church who would love the opportunity to take part in something like this.

    So it can / will make a difference. It will put a smile on someone's face. It will bring a tear to someone's eye. It will encourage other people to offer their support (whether that support comes in the shape of providing food or blankets or assistance of any type for that matter).

    If you aren't the type of person that can get behind something like this, then don't. But do get behind something. The average middle class family in the United States is going to face a harsh reality during the Holiday Season — if we can affect a small percentage of those folks, we will affect MILLIONS.

    I would say putting smiles on the faces of millions of people is worth something!

    Thanks Jeremy for sharing the idea and inspiring the folks that are going to be involved. We are definitely on board here in Kansas City and we are looking forward to the opportunity to bring some happiness to those who need it.

  56. Lawhon Photography September 1, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    Huntington, West Virginia is in. I was the ministry director for the Huntington City Mission for 3 years and I found that folks there loved having their picture taken. They loved that people just wanted to pay attention to them. So, for my help portrait, I'm going back to the mission (where I still speak and volunteer on a regular basis for the cynics) and will be doing photos that I hope will raise awareness or the problem we have in our country with poverty. Already have three photogs in and working with a local frame shop/print lab to fix up a display for the administration to use when fundraising.

    Thanks everybody for what you're doing. God will bless you all for using your talent for serving others.

  57. car blog September 1, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    Ahhhh that was absolutely awesome, should be done frequently.

  58. Ron Dawson September 1, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    First off, I have very little respect for people who write biting critiques behind the veil of anonymity. Be a man/woman and tell us who you are.

    Second, I hear all the time how photography is a powerful medium. How images can change the world (think "Tank Man") or can move you to tears (think images from 9110, or help strengthen a marriage (think wedding photography), or make a girl with low self esteem feel beautiful for the first time in her life (family portraiture). Photography CAN do all of this. Yet, some of you (those few negative comments) now say a photograph really means nothing. It has no power. It's superficial.

    I can totally understand where you're coming from. And I think it's coming from a place of sincerity on your part. But come on, do you really think someone like JC is making this video JUST to make himself look good. As he said, he's never done anything like this. Until this video, I barely even knew what he looked like. And as someone who had a long interview with him, I can attest that he's not the type to do this as just a PR stunt. (Cynicism is alive and well I see).

    It makes sense for a photographer to propose a charitable idea that relates to photography, HIS strength and gift. Yes, it would've been ideal to add the part about going the extra mile and bring food, blankets, etc. But, honestly, that seemed like a given to me. He didn't HAVE to say it. If you're there offering compassion, human nature will kick in and you'll also think to help out once you get to know them during the portrait session.

    I hope the anonymous commenters will be able to look at this from a different angle and use their gifts to help bless another family. Then, roll up your sleeves and do the other hard work too.

    • sam bones October 28, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      JC = Jebus Chrizzist?

  59. Brett Arthur September 1, 2009 at 9:45 am #

    To me, this is a great idea to give. It's an original idea to give people something they don't usually have the ability to have. For me, this isn't about going out to your downtown and shooting images of homeless people with character and then simply walking away, posting it on Flickr and never see that or think about that person again.

    Not everyone has the money to give to charity. I personally give in the way of helping provide food, clothing and someone to talk to, when I can. Sure, you can say sell your fancy 2.8 lenses and buy a kit lens and shoot with that and give the money to charity, but why would I sell my lenses when that is what provides myself with an income? I know how important photographs are to people. Think about all those people that have had the misfortune of losing their home to a fire and lost all their photographs. My apartment caught fire 3 years ago, luckily known of my photographs and memories were lost, but my neighbor across the hall lost hers. She didn't care that she lost her nice couch, her nice TV and bed. See was sobbing over the fact that she lost her photographs of her family, friends, pets and memories.

    I plan to help victims of fire, the victims of poverty and those who simply need something to look at when they wake up and know that there is hope and see themselves smiling. I also plan to do my usual giving; a warm meal, warm clothes and someone to talk to. I do this all year round, when I can.

    I don't know Jeremy on a personal level, but from what I can tell, I imagine that he has done a great deal of charity in his life to help those in need. This is just another way of helping. Something people can hold on to and share.

    Pictures are not the answer to the worlds problems, but they surely can bring hope and love to someone, just as a blanket, food and clothing can.

  60. Jeremy Cowart September 1, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    Patrick Boatwright posted this story on my Facebook page. LOVE IT.

    There's an excerpt from Rob Bell's book "SexGod" that hits on this topic perfectly. For those who arent readers it tells of a German concentration camp that was liberated by the British. Soon after they arrived & were addressing the needs of these people who had been desecrated and dehumanized in ways we can barely grasp, a shipment of red lipstick arrived. The general wrote in his journal how he wished he knew who had done it because it was genius. Of all the needs youd figure needed addressing most for people utterly emaciated, tortured, & dying the lipstick changed lives instantly. Women on post mortem tables clutching their lipstick, emaciated women unable to stand with ruby red lips.

    I've seen poverty up close all around the world. Ive spent time homeless. I have friends who still sleep on the bitter streets. The streets strip humanity. Fellow man strips humanity. Money, food, shelter cant buy that. Humanity is based in beauty.

  61. jaycaruso September 1, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    I think people are being a little harsh here. Jeremy wasn't just talking about the homeless, but also people who may love to have a family portrait, but simply cannot afford to have it done. I think a lot of times, we don't have an understanding of what family photos mean to some people.

    About 14 years ago I did child photography. It was a difficult job because the person was given the opportunity to have a free 8×10 portrait made and it was incumbent at first on the photographer to try and sell people a package of prints based only on how the session went (this was prior to the age of digital). I had to work areas like Newark and East Orange New Jersey. They are areas filled with people who don't have a lot of money at all. From time to time however, I did find myself going to areas like Princeton and Montclair (where the Sopranos house is) sometimes as well.

    Know what I found? I sold more $200 packages to people in the inner city areas than I did in Montclair and Princeton. I would often get shut down and told, "Nope, I just want the free print!" Why did this happen? I had my own theory which revolved around the idea that the people with less gave themselves more by surrounding themselves with images and pictures of family and friends.

    We have a single mom's ministry at our church and I know this is something that they would love.

    So for those who are being negative about it or what seems to be an almost mocking tone, try and think outside the box for a moment. Look at it from a different perspective and see then if you gain a better understanding of what it is Jeremy is looking to do.

  62. Amy Embrey September 1, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    As photographers we might not be "curing diseases" with what we do, but *we* ALSO shouldn't be the first in line to devalue ourselves, our profession or the amazing GIFT a photograph can be.

    If you want to go build a home or work at a soup kitchen, and you think that's the best way for you to help – go for it! However, there are a TON of people out there who want to make a difference in the life of someone less fortunate, but have no idea where to start…

    By sharing our gifts as artists we CAN make a difference. A difference in attitude. A difference in the way people feel about themselves and their sense of pride. Or just putting a smile on someones face! It's about more than taking pictures… it's about hearing their story. It's about feeling connected, making people feel good about themselves and just finding that place to START.

    Sure, these people may not NEED photos the way they NEED groceries, but a smile and a bit of happiness can certainly go a long way.

    Call me crazy, but I certainly think that matters.

  63. David Ruiz September 1, 2009 at 9:53 am #

    I'm in Jeremy! i think it's a great way to give back. i'm surprised how many people are crappin on this idea. i'd be surprised if any of those people actually DO something for someone else this holiday season.

  64. September 1, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    We are in (Atlanta Area). My wife and I have been planning with another photog for several months now and we are really excited to be able to use our gifts to give back.

    While Jeremy and I have never met on a personal basis, I consider him an friend, and his intentions behind Help Portrait are completely legit. And its not just about the homeless, or those under the poverty line. For me, its about going to the Childrens Hospital and offering pictures for families who may not have much time left with their children. I mean, look at something like Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, where photographers offer themselves to families who may have had a stillborn, or severely sick child. Tell me those parents don't appreciate the gift that is given to them.

    I'm extremely excited, like I said before, for the opportunity to give back. And this isn't the only "charity" thing that we do either.

  65. Jeremy September 1, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    I've known Jeremy for over a decade and we used to be business partners. I can say in all honesty that he is not the least be arrogant or pretentious. He has a big heart and likes to help people. He isn't suggesting that you *only* take photos, he's saying to use that as a catalyst for creating a relationship with those in need. Cut him some slack and go help someone in whatever way you can, even if it isn't with portraits.

  66. Rob September 1, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    Hey Jeremy, I hear what you're saying and I feel badly that you think I am trying to disparage what I think is a sincere act of kindness on your part.

    I do believe you are putting words in my mouth that were never spoken. I never said people don't need dignity, beauty, memories, normalcy or to be loved. I do believe they need all those things far more than they can receive through the medium of an image on paper. Images of my family mean a great deal to me, but that's from my vantage point of a full stomach, clean clothes and a warm living room.

    At the Out of The Cold program here in Toronto there are many who need the most basic of things. When they come in on a Sunday night we hand them all toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, combs, soap, shaving cream and razors, we let them all have a shower before dinner. They eat, we let them sleep overnight and then they leave the next day. These are very private people. There biggest concern is getting their "stuff" ripped off at the shelters while they sleep. Most of them want to be left alone and just wash, eat and sleep the night.

    I have donated a great deal of my time packing presents for these people at christmas, delivering care packages with my son's scout group and donating my time when asked to play a concert to raise money for Toronto homeless programs. I'm fine with all of that. Personally I would have a great deal of difficulty approaching someone on the street who has no socks or, hasn't washed in weeks and ask them if they would like their picture taken, much less have their hair and makeup done.

    If some do want their photo taken that's great. I would gladly take their photo. Honestly what ever makes them happy would be a gift.

    I just wonder though if my gift would better be served leaving my camera gear at home and driving the Out of the Cold van around Toronto on a Friday night picking up homeless people when it's 30 below. You be surprised how many don't even want that.

    best regards Jeremy. I hope whatever shape this endeavour takes, it helps people. In the end it's all that matters.


  67. Josh Cole September 1, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    Yes, you should not do this 'good work' but instead do this 'good work'. And by 'good work' I mean that which follows my definition of 'good work'. Instead of giving photos, you should be mopping, or cleaning, or building a house, etc., etc. Oh, and the homeless people don't like their picture taken, so don't do it for anyone.

    Are you KIDDING me??? Take the blinders off and widen your view a bit. Narrow is just that…narrow.

    If we stopped doing the seemingly little things, then we'd be doing nothing. Some think giving photos is a small pointless effort because they'd rather give of their labor. Some think labor is a small pointless effort because they'd rather give of their money. Some believe that giving of their money is a small pointless effort because they'd rather give their life.

    Everyone was given a gift and each gives of what he/she feels is best at that time/season. And it's through this, multiplied by a world community, that we achieve change. NOT by belittling how others would like to serve.

    Can things like this become self centered and at time be used as self promotion, PR stunts, etc. Absolutely. I recognize that. However, was someone's life still changed for the better? Most of the time, if not all the time, yes. And on this one someone's life WILL be changed somewhere, at some point. This will indeed be a meaningful gift for them.

    I say Godspeed.


  68. Jeremy Cowart September 1, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    Understood Rob. Good points. But like I said… this is a catalyst to get people in action. I truly believe it will spark much more than photos and a lot of what you're talking about will be accomplished as well. In fact people will forget all about the photos the day of. Last year when we did this, photos were a small bi-product of what we did. But what an amazing excuse this is for all of us to at least get moving. Thanks for clarifying.

  69. Lucas Lenci Photo September 1, 2009 at 10:31 am #

    Sao Paulo – Brazil is IN!
    starting to promote right now this amazing idea!

  70. Chase Jarvis September 1, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    glad this conversation is back on track…

    let's refocus our energies on helping jeremy's bigger idea here get legs and really become a success. that's what this is about.

  71. Wayne Mah September 1, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    I'm very excited to help – and I'm trying to round up a few other photogs and other support people in Vancouver to see if we can make this bigger and have more impact.

    It seem the photo community is ok here in Canada, but a project like this will really help us to grow closer and give back more.

    Looking forward to this!


  72. ThatcherDorn September 1, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    Man. I have read a lot of the comments on here. And I must say that when I first watched Jeremy's video, I didn't take it as helping the homeless.

    I took it as going out and taking a photo of people who would love and appreciate a good photo but just can't afford it.

    My first thought was "who could really benefit from this in my area?" Maybe I get a hold of the local police and set something up since they risk their lives for me. Or for fire men & women. Or for EMTs. Maybe families that are dealing with a loved one going off to war. Instead of a dull military photo, were everyone has the same look and same uniform on, it's a family photo truly expressing themselves. Laughing, having fun.

    I'm a family man. And I used to take my first kid to JC Penny's for photos before I was a photographer. I didn't like the back drops, or the stupid poses. But I loved getting a good quality image of my son! I couldn't afford a photographer. I wish I could have. But bills just got in the way.

    I think this is something that will help people in a certain way.

    Still not sure what I'll do yet. But I'm in.

  73. Carolyn Wells September 1, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    I'm glad I happened across this today. When I started down the pro photographer path, my mentor had suggested working on projects by giving (and improving upon) my talent while helping others. I never really got anything consistent going. One of the projects I had in mind was to visit a nearby homeless children's shelter and give each child a professional portrait of themselves. This inspired me to revisit that project and get out and do it. Thank you! I'll spread the word too here in Phoenix and online.

  74. Samuel Clarke September 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    I'm very keen. In the Sunshine Coast Australia…hopefully will be able to get some other photogs on board.

  75. Brenda (Culinary Fool) September 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

    I'm working on a couple of ideas and will be tapping some Seattle folks for help. ;-)

    Also, tweeted and posted the Help-Portrait url to get others working on it.

  76. Alex September 1, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    Excellent idea and something I have been thinking of for a while. Would love to hear if anyone in Melbourne, Australia is firing up for this.

  77. fachine September 1, 2009 at 10:50 pm #

    lets do this save-the-world-with-our-cameras project. because we photographers are above getting our hands dirty. don't even think about donating money to the poor. that money can go towards another speedlite, which will allow you to do better portraits next year to give back to the community.

    this has got to be the cheesiest touchy-feely promo video i think i've ever seen. volunteer in a soup kitchen for crying out loud.

  78. JEB September 2, 2009 at 8:09 am #

    Bawfaw Studios is in.

  79. jason Grubb September 2, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    For sure! Love to see this spread like wildfire!

  80. Rodger September 2, 2009 at 8:35 pm #

    Pittsburgh, PA is in!

  81. Antoine R. September 3, 2009 at 1:56 am #

    Great idea. I'm in from Paris.

  82. rushingray September 3, 2009 at 10:48 am #

    We're working on one for Denver area. This is such a cool practical way to give back.

  83. Bo Parker September 3, 2009 at 1:12 pm #

    I like the concept, I'm in. I appreciate the blog and look forward to giving a little back.

  84. Anonymous September 3, 2009 at 7:31 pm #

    So if on December 12th, someone comes up to me and takes my picture, does that mean, I'm in need? In need of what? Someone's judgement?

    Who is to judge who is need. Maybe we should find someone to take a picture of ourselves.

    I completely agree with some of the comments here. This is pretentious crap. "From those who know, to those who know not."

    Count me out.

  85. DFJ Photo September 3, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    Me again – Help Portrait Austin is really coming together. All of you Austin peeps head on over to the site, and volunteer. More site content on the way.


  86. Max September 3, 2009 at 9:54 pm #

    I'm in! i never here much about canadian photogs doing this kinda stuff, so i better get on it and represent for canada! (or at least toronto)

    i think i'm going to make a local site, are lots of people doing this?

  87. Max September 3, 2009 at 9:55 pm #

    and i clearly (or unclearly) meant website…

  88. danieljenkins September 4, 2009 at 6:51 am #

    I'm in!

  89. Mike September 4, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    gathering lots of Kansas City photographers and we're definitely in!

  90. Max September 4, 2009 at 9:40 pm #

    i think the important part of this project is to remember what it's about. Jeremy is doing it his way, but is very clear (at least to me) that this is an idea, and a starting point. for example, my style of photographry doesn't really align itself with family portraits. does that mean i don't want to be involved? hell no! that just means i want to make it mine. right now i am contemplating doing a day of nudes. because as someone who has shot a few in my day, i know the incredible impact that it can have on people's happiness, self-image, confidence, etc.

    help-portrait (if i may be so bold as to paraphrase) is about owning an honouring the power that a good photograph has, and about using that power for good (you know, like superheroes). we as photographers have such an ability to affect people,so lets get out there and use it.

    if you don't like jeremy's phrasing, then phrase it differently, cnceptualize it differently. come on, see past the gelled hair and try and listen to the ideas being presented to you.

  91. LovelifePhoto September 4, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    I am really excited about working on this project. DFJphoto has already started planning the Austin, TX shoot. Very much looking forward to working with him and the talent and help we are able to drum up! This is going to be great!

  92. Aimee Greeblemonkey September 8, 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    Chase, thanks so much for posting about this. LOVE. IT. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

    I am not sure if I talked to you about this in person when we met in Denver, but my company was recently funded by the Office of Minority Health of the NIH to work on a project to promote diversity in stock photography. I am definitely going to do everything I can to participate in Help Portrait, and also get in touch with Jeremy to talk more about ways to expand it, because that was part of the plan in the grant. If you or any of your readers want to get involved, please feel free to email me: aimee at greeblemonkey dot com.

    Hope this doesn't sound like I am jumping on his coattails – but what a WONDERFUL idea! I just couldn't stop from posting! :)


  93. Max September 13, 2009 at 3:04 am #

    i will help.

  94. Kid_adidas September 25, 2009 at 5:46 am #

    Wouldn't it be better if people were to "TEACH" people in need the skills of photography? Let them take pictures of themselves and create their own art.

    Handing someone a photos and expecting them to feel good about themselves….seems very wrong.

    I don't like this idea at all.

  95. Brandon D. September 28, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    This is a great idea!

    If you don't like the idea, or if you don't want to participate, you don't have to be a party-pooper…

  96. brandt abner October 13, 2009 at 4:06 am #

    Be glad to…

  97. Aloma November 15, 2009 at 8:34 pm #

    This is a beautiful thing. I started a project very similar to this last November, The Free Photo Project. I am not, however, a professional nor do I have professional equipment.
    But I can tell you from the stories I have heard from the people I have photographed this is a very precious gift.
    I would say don't limit this to once a year! And don't limit it to professionals. This is a gift that anyone with a camera can give.

  98. Jeremy Cowart December 5, 2009 at 9:49 pm #

    Just read a few more of the negative comments on here I hadn't seen before. It's almost comical how senseless the comments are. If you guys only had any idea how much this means to people. I had one 55-year old man who couldn't stop dancing in front of the camera cause he had NEVER had his photo taken. This was the first time anyone had ever paid attention to him. He couldn't contain the excitement. Another woman hugged me with tears in her eyes and would not let go. She said "This is the first photo I've seen of myself since I lost 300lbs 8 years ago. If only my family could see me now. Well, thanks to you, now they can." The stories speak for themselves guys. This is seriously powerful stuff. Stop taking your cameras for granted and go out there and put them to use.

  99. Seoshneg May 11, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    We’re working on one for Denver area. This is such a cool practical way to give back

  100. Dieter Chaney July 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Making a difference takes bold, unconventional ideas, even at the risk of sounding sappy and cheesy. Changing lives and helping people is the bottom line. That does not always equate to something momentary. Inspiration and caring is a far more powerful thing than money could ever provide, “a catalyst to get people in action”. It is a sad to read such blatant disparagement of such positive ideas.

    “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace. ”
    ~ John Lennon

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  102. What about video? October 28, 2012 at 10:47 am #

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