Making People Smile, One Help Portrait at a Time

A smiling subject from Help Portrait, 2011

This subject above was very skittish at first, but became the happiest child in the room, with her sister and mother on-hand, supplying cookies and smiles.

I recently photographed a few families in a very special way. I usually photograph corporate headshots, and I love what I do, but when Bethann Buddenbaum from Indy Photo Coach asked me to participate in this year’s Help Portrait, I immediately said, “yes!” Help Portrait, founded by Jeremy Cowart, is a global community of photographers “giving,” instead of “taking” pictures of those in need. The subjects were families and individuals without ability to pay for portraits. The international success of the third annual Help Portrait event made headlines with lots of GREAT B-roll candids. Most important, moments in time were preserved for hundreds of families. As well, my friends at Indy School On Wheels participated in the Indianapolis event — GREAT people, educating the homeless.

It’s a wonderful feeling to give, but what I really enjoyed, was donating my services to a worthy cause and the camaraderie amongst fellow photographers. It’s important and good to consider profit in business, but to put that away for the day, and shoot for those in need was a blast. While I missed the big rush earlier in the event (bummer), I at least covered the later part, catching up with friends like Paul D-Andrea and Leilan McNally, while meeting more fellow Indianapolis togs.

In the wedding photography business, it’s said the photographer is second only to the church, as a quality preservation of that unique, special moment can never be retaken. That reminds me of the family portrait. Even though the wedding occurs once, and that moment is SUPER special, a family portrait can’t be retaken the same, and the subjects — like the wedding — are typically special to each other. Every moment is unique. Just think how most families struggle to get the “perfect portrait,” without Johnny looking subtly cross-eyed, Patricia’s short bangs, and Timmy’s slightly crooked smile. Imagine never having that family portrait — at all.

If you’re a photographer, consider volunteering for next year’s event, or you can donate. You can also catch Help Portrait on the following networks:


twitter: @help_portrait



I photograph headshot and architectural photography for a living, but I also love shooting street photography, abstract architecture and landscapes - more of it lately with my phone. I've had a camera in my hands for the past 20 years, and I currently work for clients in Indianapolis and throughout the Midwest.