In 2012, 26,200 portraits were given so far across the globe as part of the annual Help-Portrait.
A non-profit organization, Help-Portrait has encouraged a worldwide movement for talented photographers to give back to their community in taking a holiday family portrait to someone who may not be able to get one printed. This year, the Lake Area Camera Club aided in this growing, global philanthropy for the second year on Saturday at Stone Crest Mall in Osage Beach.
According to Help-Portrait.com, celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart founded the organization in hopes to build a community of photographers from around the world, using their skills to give back at a local level.
"In December, photographers around the world will be grabbing their cameras, finding people in need and taking their picture. When the prints are ready, the photographs get delivered," the website stated. "This is about giving the pictures, not taking them. These portraits are not for your portfolio, website, or for sale. Money isn't involved here. This holiday season, you have the chance to give a family something they may have never had before-a portrait together."
In fact, in the first two years Help-Portrait served its mission, it reached 54 countries, utilized 10,574 photographers, had 12,654 volunteers, was held at 1,062 locations and gave 101,596 portraits, capturing countless smiles for those who may otherwise be experiencing rough times.
In the Lake Area, the Lake Area Camera Club had a successful start in their initial involvement with Help-Portrait last year, asking two local not-for-profit organizations to help select families who may enjoy receiving a family portrait. They were Citizens Against Domestic Violence/Victim Outreach Center and Kids' Harbor. However, this year, Tricia Williamson, Lake Area Camera Club president, said they increased the number of organizations and doubled the families they helped.
"We chose CADV, Lamb House and Share the Harvest to help give holiday portraits to this year, as well as giving a few portraits to families at the Lake Area Helping Hands Homeless Shelter," she said. "We are taking portraits for 100 families this year, which is double what we did last year. Hopefully it will continue to grow."
Williamson said they also doubled the amount of photography shoot stations and photographers they used, as well.
"We had four photography shoot stations, with many photographers so others could take a break if needed," Williamson said. "Plus, we had entertainment for the children while they waited."
Williamson said LACC participants also printed their photos at their Help-Portrait Studio in Stone Crest Mall, so they could take home their special present the same day.
"We printed all the photos right there and our families were able to walk out with their portrait. Each of the families received two 8-by-10 color portraits of their choice," she said. "We also had volunteers who helped with make-up for the families and had refreshments and other activities available to make it a really special, memorable experience."
Williamson the full day of shoots and activities kept the group busy from 9 a.m. to after 5 p.m. However, the moments shared with these families and what the club members and project volunteers were able to accomplish is what makes this event so meaningful and important.
"We know the organizations like the photos and are pleased to be a part of this project," Williamson said. "We have seen some families break down in tears and have told us they haven't had portraits with their family members in years. It means so much to them."
Many local businesses provided cash and in-kind donations to make this event possible for the Lake Area Camera Club, Help-Portrait organization and local families it served. They include: The Elks Lodge of Osage Beach, Fire Station Bar and Grill of Camdenton, Stone Crest Mall and Pat Maher, as well as the Lake Area Camera Club members.
Williamson said she hopes to continue to participate in the Help-Portrait project in future holiday seasons, as well as do more similar mid-year projects for Lake Area families in need.
"The goal is to allow everyone to have images of those lasting memories that mean so much and can never be replaced," she said. "I feel we accomplished that and hope to do so in the future with our participation in this project."
For more information on the activities of the Lake Area Camera Club, visit its website at www.meetup.com/LakePhoto.