They said “What are some of your favorite photos and why?”
Pretty normal question I guess. So I scrolled through my computer and found a folder I had forgotten about containing what I simply call “powerful photos”.
Then I saw a photo I shot last year at Help-Portrait and I was immediately stunned. I was so stunned that I just sat there and wept for a few minutes. I had forgotten about this image. The power of it hit me like a wall and just wrecked me.
Last year I was doing Help-Portrait in Seattle and I noticed a woman standing in the corner with her 4 kids. She seemed very quiet and lonely. So I went over and spent some time with her. I quickly learned that she had just moved from Palestine to Seattle. Her husband suddenly passed away a few weeks earlier from a heart attack. Then someone tried to kill her son by driving over him with a car as a part of the Israel/Palestine conflict. She had enough, packed up her stuff and somehow moved her family to Seattle. She said she hadn’t cooked or cleaned for weeks since being Seattle due to her severe depression.
But she somehow found out about Help-Portrait and brought her kids over. In her broken english, she explained to me that while her husband was alive, they never ONCE had a family picture taken together. Not one photo. So she handed me a photo of her husband and asked if I could add him into the photo to create their first ever family photo.
So we spent a while shooting and I later asked “is there anything else you need? Money, food, shelter?” She said “Ive just wanted a day where my kids could be loved on and play with other kids. My kids have been smiling and playing all day. You have given me everything I need.”
Needless to say, it was a powerful, emotional day. We were able to create her first-ever family photo by photoshopping in her deceased husband to create their first family portrait.
So the other night in Chicago, I ran across this photo and just melted. I cried, then there was silence. I cried some more. More silence. Keep in mind, 120 people were sitting there watching me. I wasn’t expecting to find this photo. But all the emotions hit me at once. We all tend to forget how powerful photography can be for families and people who don’t have access to cameras. But in that moment, it all came rushing back and I was overwhelmed once again by the power of Help-Portrait. I’m so excited for tomorrow and to hear all of YOUR stories.
So touched!! We're attempting to get our bearings together and ensure that Help Portrait Pakistan becomes an annual event. #helpportraitpak Very excited about this!
Thanks for sharing this amazing story. We sometimes forget how powerful the art of phtoography is and you have reminded it TO me again :)
This is why I love photography. It's amazing how a portrait can truly add to and even change a person's life. Thank you for being the inspiration and encouragement for fledgling photographers like me!
Jeremy, Help-Portrait is a GREAT idea! I currently work as a newspaper shooter but I am also very involved in ministering to my community and local elementary school. I am considering doing something like this around Mother's day. God bless you and may you continue to use your gift to touch the lives of others!
I remember her and her kids but had forgotten you were going to put him in the portrait. It's very well done, sir. A year goes by very fast.