Photographers Offer Free Portraits to the Community

12/06/10 Andrea Lypka
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On the Help Portrait Day, photographers give back to the community worldwide by donating portraits for underprivileged families. On December 4, local photographers set up lights and backdrops and converted a room at the Macedonia Freewill Baptist Church in St. Petersburg into a photography studio offering free, professional photographs for those in need. This event is for some families the only Christmas present this year, organizers say.

Jaqueline Baptiste came with her four children: Bill, Timothy, Marie and Jake.

“I am a waitress, I work at the Applebee’s but I love my children, I want them to remember this and pass it on,” she said.

Photographers Chuck Vosburgh and Pat McGlinchey organized the Help Portait event in St. Petersburg to give back to the local community.

“It occurred to me that some of the things we take for granted, like portraits… We thought it is a great idea to have a way to help out some families this holiday season,” Vosburgh said.

Thanks to 50 photographers and students from TASCO, the city's Teen Arts, Sports & Cultural Opportunities program, 174 families went home with free portraits from this Help-Portrait event.

“Photographers, printers, editors- it was just an incredible response. In fact, we have got more help than we need here because the folks who are in the photographic community always respond. One thing I noticed is that everybody is having a great time, photographers and subjects alike,” he said.

Chuck Vosburgh says that the Help Portrait is a global movement.

“Help portrait is a worldwide event and on the 4ht of December each year people get together and shoot portraits of people who are less fortunate and the people walk out with a nice portrait of their family.”

Regina Cooper has been a member of this church since she was a little girl. She is now the youth minister and the church clerk.

“I think it is just a wonderful idea and to see all the families come out to take a portrait when they normally cannot [afford one]. And the kids are happy. We have a sign up, we are busy in here and everybody is happy,” she said.

One of the photographers at the event is Ryan Gautier. He says this is the first time he has participated in a Help Portrait event.

“I wish a lot more people would get involved. We have to do more campaigning next year to help more families. I know there are a lot of underprivileged families out there and I really believe that there are more people out there that can help and hopefully next year is bigger and better than the year before,” Gautier said.

Groups in 57 countries and 49 states participated in the Help Portrait events worldwide.

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