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The Story Behind Help-Portrait

The Story Behind Help-Portrait

A picture is worth. Period. That’s the idea behind Help-Portrait’s second annual event in which the photography community worldwide seeks to give pictures to people who wouldn’t otherwise have their portrait made.

It’s an idea that started with entertainment photographer Jeremy Cowart (who has shot a number of RELEVANT magazine covers) that’s caught on with 15,000 people who are joining together tomorrow, Dec. 4, in cities around the world to give portraits instead of take them.

Cowart explains the emotional nature of the event. “Last year I made it through the day without breaking down and crying,” he said. “I was fine until the end when one of our makeup artists named Robin Geary came up to me sobbing. She said he was doing makeup for a girl who said real quietly that she had never seen her face without scars before. Robin asked what had happened and she said her dad had abused her by pouring acid on her face when she was a kid—so this was the first time she had worn makeup and seen her face without the scars. I lost it.”

Geary adds, "I consider what I do sorta trivial—it is just makeup, but that was the first time in my 20-year career that I felt like I had actually made a difference with what I do."

The flagship event in Nashville, Tenn., Cowart’s hometown, is focusing primarily on flood victims this year and is being organized by Cowart’s wife, Shannon. That event is taking place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow. Similar to other events being held the same day, hair and makeup artists will be on hand in addition to photographers and lighting techs to create professional photos printed on the spot and framed—for free. Food, clothing donations, medical screenings and even a visit from Santa Claus are all planned for the Nashville event. 

And it’s not just in Nashville. This year more than 585 groups are planning events in 57 countries and in all 50 states. It’s an effort that has affected everyone involved, even a photographer as experienced as Cowart. “I am just reminded how good God is,” he says. “This idea came to me last year and it is the loudest and clearest I have ever felt God speak to me. To see the other side of this idea unfolding is just seeing God’s goodness. I am humbled.”

Help-Portrait is broadcasting live all day from their studio in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood and checking in throughout the day with H-P organizers in New York City, Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta and more to hear stories as the day unfolds. The broadcast runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST at

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