On December 6, MPS Digital Photography students and faculty members participated in Help-Portrait, a global event in which photo professionals offer their services free of charge to under-served communities. Volunteers photograph, retouch and print portraits for those who otherwise might not be able to afford the expense of professional photography. The photographs serve a range of purposes, from capturing family moments to providing participants with shots to use to apply for jobs. Held in East Harlem, this year’s event was hosted by STRIVE International, a non-profit organization that offers urban communities an array of work-related and life-enhancing programs. B&H Photo, FotoCare, The Set Shop and the SVA Model Registry also contributed media, goods and services.
MPS Digital Photography Chair Katrin Eismann and Associate Chair Thomas Ashe helmed a team of 16 students, who in a single day provided 100 portraits to more than 60 men, women and children. At one point, the line for photos extended out the door. “Morning attendees had all called their friends and families,” said Eismann. “People came in from all around New York City, including the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Many clients said that this was the first time that they had enjoyed having their pictures taken!”
Students who volunteered also felt deeply moved by the project. “Perhaps the most rewarding factor was talking with the families, listening to their stories and making them feel and look beautiful in the photos,” said Anjola Toro, who served as project producer. Aaron Wei, who retouched photos, agreed: “l just felt totally love-overloaded that day.”
The annual event takes places in early December, a time when many students feel overwhelmed with deadlines. Nevertheless, “being a part of Help-Portrait and sharing your skills with people that appreciate them is a very gratifying experience,” said Eismann. “We learned that getting away from school and giving to the community gave us all energy to make it through the end-of-semester crush.”
Photos courtesy of MPS Digital Photography.