Local Features
11:48 am
Tue December 15, 2009

Group Give Pictures, Doesn't Take Them

Murray, KY – You've heard the cliche: "a picture is worth a thousand words." Well, in Murray, Kentucky recently, a group of photographers gathered for one day to shoot portraits in hopes that their photos would give people something to talk about for years to come. Angela Hatton has the story.

(To find out more about Help-Portrait, click here .

Over a dozen volunteers scamper around the Baptist Campus Ministry building at Murray State University. They're here to help take portraits of local residents and have them printed . . . for free. It's called Help-Portrait, an all volunteer movement of professional and amateur photographers that has grown to an internationally coordinated event. Local organizer and amateur photographer Katie DeCillo explains who they're targeting with Help-Portrait.

"Anyone and everyone who's maybe never had their picture taken before, people who just can't afford the high prices of photography. I just think in today's busy life people get caught up and don't have time for things like this or just can't afford it with the economy the way it is."

But how does taking someone's picture help them?

"The goal of Help-Portrait is not really to give away great photography. It's more of a movement to spread hope because not everyone has had a chance to have their picture taken and I think that when someone has their picture taken it makes them feel valuable and beautiful and worthy of having something that bears their image."

Families signed up in advance for the portrait sessions, and when they arrive, enthusiastic volunteers like MSU Senior John Vaught greet the parents and children.

"If you'll smile real good and take really good pictures, we've got candy canes and we've got cookies over there too."

DeCillo says before they snap pictures, volunteers take the time to get to know their subjects. They want them to feel comfortable. She says many of the photographers have a passion for meeting people.

"Photography has always been very relational, and it's about forming relationships with people before you ever hold a camera in their face because cameras can be very intimidating."

DeCillo directs a shoot: "Now I'm thinking that you two absolutely hate each other. . . . Really? You hate each other? Why!? . . . You're brothers aren't you?"

"That's why they hate each other."

"Alright, then make faces at each other."

Terry Little is a part-time event photographer and has done shoots for the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce. He's excited about Help-Portrait.

"One of the first people that I took pictures of this morning had never had a family portrait and their oldest son was thirteen. Y'know, you don't want to wake up when you're fifty years old and realize the only pictures you have of your family are the school pictures they provided."

Little is gregarious and he spends much of his time at the event coaxing the reluctant to pose for the camera.

"People say oh, I don't like my picture, I don't like my picture. And then you give them a couple of good pictures of themselves and they think well, maybe I'm not as bad as I thought I was.'"

DeCillo: "Now you can go over there and pick out a few that you like."

"What we're going to do is pick three or four that we can have sent off and printed for you guys."

Katie DeCillo says they've been able to offer the free prints through donations collected in the past months from the community. The pictures should be processed and mailed in time for Christmas.

Around twenty-five families come in for Help-Portrait. Worldwide, Help-Portrait events were held in over six-hundred locations. According to the group's headquarters, they took tens of thousands of photos at no cost to the people who received them. This international Help-Portrait day was a one-time event, but the response was overwhelming and organizers say they'd like to see it happen again.