Local photographers donate time for portrait initiative

EDMONTON – A worldwide photography movement is encouraging photographers to donate their time to give a special gift to those in need: a portrait.

“The idea is to bring people that couldn’t usually afford a professional photographer, and take their photo, print it, and give it to them for free, close to the Christmas season,” explained Javier Salazar, who’s organizing the Help-Portrait event in Edmonton.

“This is a way to give back to the community as a photographer…It’s a very good opportunity for us to make people feel what rock stars feel like.”

“One of the things we focus a lot on is the experience that they’re going to have. We don’t only want to give them a photo but we want them to have a really good experience the day of. We have professionals doing their makeup and their hair, professional photographers taking their photo, and everybody is just focused on making them feel really good,” added Salazar.

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On Dec. 7, dozens of Edmonton photographers will take part in Help-Portrait.

Edmonton has been involved in the initiative for five years now, and about 40 volunteers are expected to participate this year.

“Anything from makeup artists, student photographers, professional photographers, we have something for really anyone to do at this event,” explained volunteer organizer Philippe Phan.

This year, organizers expect to makeover and photograph more than 1,000 people.

“It’s crazy that such a simple thing could have such an impact on someone,” said Phan.

“You see their faces just glow when they walk in and then we’re doing their hair and makeup, and then the minute they’re in front of the camera, they’re a little shy at first, but the photographers really know to help them open up.”

“It’s a really good pick-me-up.”

Local organizations, like the Hope Mission, are embracing the event.

“I think it’s an awesome collective effort. Our creative community comes together and does something good for the community, gives back. It’s so meaningful to the people who are getting the service,” said Devin Komarniski, the Hope Mission’s communications officer.

“We’re definitely going to promote it as much as we can, encourage our guests here to get out to the library, go get a shave, haircut and a photo.”

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Help-Portrait takes place in Edmonton at the Stanley Milner Library on Dec.7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.