Help-Portrait :: By Jeremy Cowart

August 26, 2009 | • Philosophy News

From following Jeremy Cowart’s twitter feed, I knew that this video was in the making and now it is up! Jeremy is today’s guest blogger on Scott Kelby’s site. This is a great idea. A few photographers here in Atlanta are already on the ball with getting this organized locally and our crew is ready to jump in and do whatever we need to do to help. Be thinking about it for your town as well.

More info should be up later today on the Help-Portrait site according to a statement on Kelby’s blog.

Help spread the word!

Cheers, Zack 


  • Justin Trapp said on August 26, 2009

    This is very very cool. Jeremy is one of my favorite photogs.

  • Charles Verghese said on August 26, 2009

    Heya Zack,

    Will definitely spread the word!

    Watch out Dubai – December 12th!


  • Andy J Scott said on August 26, 2009

    I’d like to get involved with the Atlanta crew if you need any help!

  • Craig Ferguson (@cfimages) said on August 26, 2009

    This is great, I’m already getting ideas and feeling excited about it. Taipei, Taiwan is on board.

  • mischief said on August 26, 2009

    I’ve spread the word on my blog and have put out the call to all my photographer friends and on on all the photographers sites. Let’s make this a global success!

  • Charity said on August 26, 2009

    I am going to be in Paris during that time, so if there is a Paris, Fr group forming – or people that would like to form a group there – email me/connect with me through my website!
    I’d love to be a part of it!

  • here is a thought said on August 26, 2009

    It’s a little silly actually..
    “Ohh look at me, I’m a photographer and I am sensitive!”
    Come on now.

  • Alisha G. Robertson said on August 26, 2009

    AWESOME! I would love to be involved in the Atlanta Group as well.

  • Dave said on August 26, 2009


    Same here. If you need any help, let me know. Love to help and give back.


  • Cindy Gravitt said on August 26, 2009

    Fort Worth, Texas is on board! Thank you for sharing this awesome idea! We already have the neighborhood chosen! They are going to love this. What a blessing.

  • Eric said on August 26, 2009

    Werd!!! This sounds like fun. Any Austin peeps wanna collaborate?!?

  • Dana E said on August 26, 2009

    I’m totally in for the Atlanta crew!! Please post an update if you have information about what the organizers need Zack. Thanks a bunch!

  • Jeroen said on August 26, 2009

    heya Zack jeroen here from the netherlands,im spreading the word in here 😉

    great idea

  • Niklas K said on August 26, 2009

    Sounds great. And thats what I have plenty of time for to spend. So Frankfurt, Germany will join. Hopefully I won’t do this alone!

  • Jean Labelle said on August 26, 2009

    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada is on board.!

  • Kevin Rogers said on August 26, 2009

    Got the ball rolling in Springfield, TN! Been going 100 mph since early this morning!

  • Andrew said on August 26, 2009

    This is really cool. If there are any in the Detroit Area that want to put this together, let me know – I am IN!

  • Christopher Bauer said on August 26, 2009

    I am so down…you will see this happen in Alaska on Dec 12

  • Eric W said on August 26, 2009

    Hey Zack,
    I am also here in the Atlanta area. I’d love the opportunity to team up and shoot with you guys here in town. Please keep us updated as this develops.


  • Mark said on August 26, 2009

    NJ in the house on 12/12. This is great. Thanks.

  • G said on August 26, 2009

    already getting together some gtc photo students. 5 deep and counting.

  • Denise said on August 26, 2009

    Hello Everyone,

    My location is Okinawa, Japan!
    I’m interested in forming a group here.
    I’m a newbie but I’m willing to make a difference!

    Thank you!

  • Doug Hall said on August 26, 2009

    I am booked into shooting a wedding on the 12Dec. but I love the idea and will contribute in a small way here in Australia. I will spread the word here in Oz and gift a portrait to someone in need. Take care and I hope your efforts bare fruit at the end of this rainbow of an idea.


  • Bruno Monteiro said on August 27, 2009

    Great idea, great outcome in perspective. Will look forward to get involved.
    All the best!

  • Scott Webb said on August 27, 2009

    Going to get involved this is just the kind of greatness that is needed to help. Joined the mail list, was hoping there would be something more that would be auto sent.

    Suddenly brainstorming ways to help.
    I might see if there is somewhere to set up. Got my mind running nice and early and I’ll be spreading the word today.

  • Chris Martin said on August 27, 2009

    This is fantastic and hopefully all than can do this will either jump on this project or find others ways to do similar things in their communities. My job has me doing technical photography, but on my time my wife and I find ways to do things like this in our community. Such as shooting Christmas portraits at the local home for unwed mothers, portraits of the Head Start Program kids, high school senior portraits for families that can’t otherwise afford it and volunteering at the local hospital in the infant bereavement program. My point is that all of the things mentioned in the promo video are true and the gift of a portrait is invaluable to the recipient and the photographer.

  • Jon said on August 27, 2009

    I would like to help in Atlanta if you need it.

  • Brian Tremblay said on August 27, 2009

    I’m in!

    I’ve signed up and I’m making calls.

  • Casey Britt said on August 27, 2009

    Hey Zack, I’m in Atlanta and would love to help out with this. Not sure where the Atlanta folks are coordinating though. I have gear including several alien bee lights and a 12ft white seamless paper bg. Let me know.

  • Casey Britt said on August 27, 2009

    Oh and I’m a graphic designer for a living so I could help in that arena too.

  • Jeremy Sale said on August 27, 2009

    I love the fact that he doesn’t want to see the pictures. It gives you a “What’s in it for me” reality-check.

  • Tasra Dawson said on August 27, 2009

    SO amazing. I love this idea. Can’t wait to make some calls and get this going.

  • Ricardo said on August 27, 2009

    I am in, hopefully something really big organizes in Illinois where we can all joing and give back.

    East Peoria here!


  • Otto Rascon said on August 27, 2009

    This is awesome. Kudos to Jeremy Cowart. This is the stuff that will change the world. I just started to plan on a shoot and sent a message to all of my Facebook peeps to help in making this thing amazing! Thanks!

  • zack said on August 27, 2009

    @ Comment #8

    Kind of like…

    “Oh look at me, I’m an anonymous commenter and I’m cynical.”

    I’m sure the families who are going to benefit from this project are all going to sit around and think the same thing you are. Well done.


  • Chanell said on August 27, 2009

    Hi Zack,

    I’m also willing to help out in the Atlanta area. :)

  • Jeremy Cowart said on August 28, 2009

    Hey guys, just wanted to send out a big, heartfelt THANKS. I’m just overwhelmed at the kindness here and so excited about all the different states and countries involved already! So cool. I can’t wait to see all the people blessed this Christmas. You guys rock!

  • stop said on August 28, 2009

    taking yourselves so seriously.

  • Alisa Greig said on August 28, 2009

    ALOHA FROM HAWAII!! Thank you for sharing this on your blog. Hawaii will be participating :)

  • Steve said on August 28, 2009

    I’m there like a bear.

    Cape Town, South Africa

    Anyone else in CT keen?

  • andy brophy said on August 28, 2009

    hey Atlanta photogs….Help Portrait Atlanta is in the works…feel free to contact me

    Zack and his team are going to be a great resource but not necessarily taking the point.

    we can either make this one huge event, or each of us can serve in our local community and make a wider impact spread out over the city…just hit me up and we can chat


  • Matthew Zeller said on August 28, 2009

    GREAT idea. I’ll do my best!

  • Norman Bates said on August 28, 2009

    What a great marketing campaign! Fantastic publicity for you guys… Great idea, it looks like loads of people are buying it too! F.A.B

  • T. C. Knight said on August 28, 2009

    This is something you can do every day in your profession. I recently shot an editorial shoot for an agriculture digest. It was of a tomato farm that grew, packed, shipped, and sold their own tomatoes. When I finished the shoot and ftp’d the client’s selects to them, I had prints made of the out takes. Seeing some of the immigrant workers in my images, at work, began to move me. I printed a 5 x 7 of every worker who showed up in my shots. I traveled the 170 miles to the farm on what I knew to be payday. With the farmer’s permission, I stood in his office and gave the prints to each person who passed through. The look of wonder, amusement, and gratitude on their faces as they looked at and shared their pictures with each other was so much more rewarding than the job itself, it was amazing. I’ve never appreciated this profession as much as I did after that.

  • jay.eads said on August 28, 2009

    hahahahaha… zack, you smart@$$ genius.

    yeah, the kids who couldn’t afford their senior pictures, and the single moms who get a family portrait, and the homeless guy who get a shot to carry in his backpack will all speak in unison, as if it were directed from above:

    “this. is. silly! these schmuck sensitive photographers always giving their few precious free moments to me for free.”

    well, i am planning on doing whatever i can in my little town. by the way, zack, the anarchists and hippies say “hi, come visit.”

  • Paul F said on August 28, 2009

    Is there anything going on in central Illinois? I’m in the Champaign/Urbana area.



  • Maigh said on August 29, 2009

    Be on the lookout for an email from me re: the one we’re organizing in ATL.


  • Ghislain Leduc said on August 29, 2009

    I’m going to organize this in Montreal for sure this is such a freaking good idea…. Tks Zack for sharing this!

  • Kathryn said on August 29, 2009

    Awesome! If anyone in Denver, Colorado (or Colorado Springs) is interested in working with me to get this all together, e-mail me at

  • heather kallhoff said on August 29, 2009

    sign me up for the south dakota group!

  • Tonee Lawrence said on August 30, 2009

    I am there for Denver! Posted the video on my blog and announced to Mile High Photographers!

    Please let me know what is the next step!!

  • sandra lemin said on August 30, 2009

    What a great idea! Can’t wait to gt involved!!!

  • Scott Scully said on August 30, 2009

    I’m in the UK Zack. I plan to get involved in this amazing project, the concept is wonderful.

  • Chase Adams said on August 30, 2009

    What an awesome idea.

    One thing: A little grammar error. Sorry, I’m a nerd. “What’s This is about”. What This is about or what’s this about, what’s this is about doesn’t make sense.

    I will be partaking in this. It’s awesome.

  • Susan M said on September 1, 2009

    I’ll see what I can do in Melbourne, Australia

  • rebecca said on September 1, 2009

    We did free portraits for a WOW Jam event in our town. They do something like a street fair where everything is free. Food, haircuts, games…. even somebody to rock your baby while you eat. Everyone can get a free professional family portrait taken. We averaged one family every three minutes for two straight hours. The pictures were good, we were exhausted. but the experience was so rewarding. This organization hand delivers every family portrait as an opportunity to have further contact with the families and invite them to a local church. I can’t tell you what a wonderful feeling it is to go into a rather poor community and do a free family portrait for anybody who wants to stand in line and have one taken. I loved it. 3 minutes for family is really far outside of my comfort zone since I like having 2 hours with every client but sometimes we need to work outside of our comfort zones to develop new skills.

    I am excited about the Help-Portrait day. Unfortunately, every time I mention it to local photographers they look at me like I have 3 heads, except for my regular second shooter. But I’ll just do it without them. I am disappointed because I would love to see it be a really big event locally but even if we only do a dozen on our own it’s totally worth it.

  • Collin Atnip said on September 1, 2009

    Hi Zack,

    I have been a voyeur on your site for a long time. You do great work.

    I am in the ATL area. I will be glad to help with a group project. Otherwise I have an idea on my own. If you or someone else wants to spearhead something, please shoot me an email.

  • Eileen said on September 1, 2009

    I think this is just a good reminder, for me personally anyway, to use our time and talents selflessly. We love photography, we own the equipment, and we know how to take portraits.

    Ask yourself why YOU love portraits of your own family, and you’ll see why this would be such a HUGE gift. Open your eyes and see the people in your city who can’t even afford to go to Sears studio or even buy their own camera and take pictures of their own kids. THOSE are the people I want to seek out and serve.

    Yes, #8, we’re photographers, and we’re sensitive. What are you? Whatever you are, I hope you’re not a photographer. Because you’re oblivious to the true value of a portrait, and that sure makes for a crappy photographer.

    Whether you want to participate in “Help Portrait” or not, at least try to avoid being a selfish ass about the talents you’ve been given.

  • Paul said on September 1, 2009

    I’m in. Anyone in San Francisco coordinating/organizing/looking for volunteers?

  • Cody said on September 2, 2009

    I am on in Klamath Falls, Oregon… what.. never heard of Klamath Falls? Well I’m still doing it.. :)

  • Nate said on September 2, 2009

    Hey Zack, great post. I’ve covered the project on our live broadcast and over on my blog. I’m definitely going to do my part here in my town.

    This is such a great thing! I’m pumped!!

  • Maigh said on September 3, 2009

    ATL info for those local folk looking to participate:

  • Blake J. Nolan said on September 3, 2009

    GREAT IDEA. Absolutely love it. Thank you for this. I will be taking part.

  • Diego Jose said on September 4, 2009

    Zack, Jeremy, Scott and everyone involved in this project: Thank You.


  • Brian Davis said on September 4, 2009

    I’ve been working with a lot of local models and been doing free shoots to help support the local talent

  • Denise said on September 5, 2009

    I’m a photographer located in Japan. I’m married to a career AF service member. We were previously station in GA and this is how I know this family. Since I’m not located close by to take their pictures I was hoping someone would take the Butler Family pictures as their Help Portrait. Since the situation is unique the pictures will need to be taken asap.

    Please do not take theses photos if your intent is dishonorable. This family has gone thru a great deal and they do not need anyone trying to make money off of them.

    Thank you very much for reading my post. I hope that God touches someone’s heart for this family.

    Thank you and God bless you~ Denise
    Proud Air Force Wife!

    A little information on family:
    TSgt Aaron Butler returned home from a 4 month deployment on 31 August just to be rushed to the local ER to join his wife, Jamie.
    His infant daughter, whom he had only spent a matter of weeks with, was being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
    The family moved from one hospital to the next during the course of the night, finally arriving at Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville, Florida.
    Their daughter Charlotte, Charli as they call her, under went surgery on 2 September and Doctors are confident that they removed the entire tumor and that her spine is clear of tumors.

    Her cancerous tumor is called medulla blastoma. She has the classic type of this tumor which isn’t the best case, but it isn’t the worse. For that, we are thankful. They have newer, more intensive treatments now, and this is what they will use to treat her. It is a blessing that they believe the tumor hasn’t spread, but they will test her spinal fluid on Sept. 17 or 18 at the same time they do surgery to put in her chemo port. A few days after that (Sept 21) they will plan to start her treatment cycles every 21 days, 6 cycles.

    To read further about this incredible family please go to Praying for Charlotte Elisabeth Butler on Face book

  • Alan Lougher said on September 8, 2009

    Okay so I did my part this weekend. I reached out to a local Christian rock group who were in dire need of some promo photos and had zero funding to pay a pro. I took one light and softbox and hit the local church.

    Results here:

    Overall we were all happy with how they turned out.

  • Megan said on September 11, 2009

    Yeah! Things are really coming together for the Atlanta based Help Portrait planning! We have 3 locations already!

  • Steven said on October 14, 2009

    I don’t see the point. While this is definitely an interesting project for the photographers, I really don’t see the benefit for the people photographed. “Hey, homeless guy, I know you’re starving right now, but I have something for you, a glamour shot of you in your dirty clothes. Isn’t that something?”

    No. It’s not. Instead of wasting your own and the peoples’ time, why don’t you spend December 12th in a poor feeding or a clothes distribution program. You know, a photo won’t keep you warm and I don’t think they’re very nutritious either.

  • zack said on October 14, 2009

    Dearest Steven,
    Please take a look around your own community. Are homeless people the ONLY people in need?

    How about the single parent just trying to make ends meet who can’t afford a portrait session for their children?

    When did the homeless become the only people who need help? This isn’t for the homeless. Homeless people have more institutions to give support than some people who have jobs and pay rent each month. Once that rent is paid, photos of their family are WAY down the list of priorities. What you are saying is this… “People don’t need photos of their kids and their families.”

    You can hand out a meal that will last for one single day.

    You can take a portrait that will last for years and years and years.

    Not saying feeding the poor isn’t important. But when is the last time anyone gave a damn enough to take some family portraits for those who could not afford it.

    Open. Your. Eyes. There are more in need then the homeless. They live next door to you. We, as photographers, have something to give.

    Enough said.


  • Frank said on November 11, 2009

    I created a Group which will shoot on 12.12. in Cologne Germany.

    It’s a great thing to be able to do something like this.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Ed Kriz said on November 25, 2009

    WOW !!!!!!!! I can not believe the negative comments. I can only say there are some stingy people who lack compassion. Do you think these people would be your next clients. Something as simple as taking a photo and doing makeup can make a difference. I would hope that ALL types of volunteerism would be contagious.

  • KLBO said on December 15, 2009

    I did the help-portrait this past weekend, I’m from Cleveland Ohio and drove 2hrs to Toledo just to be part of this event. And I must say this has to be one of the most rewarding events that I’ve been apart of.

    The point of help-portrait wasn’t to go take a photo of a homeless individual and say “hey heres a picture happy holidays”. It was to give someone a chance to smile, to make that woman as beautiful as ever. To make them feel special.

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