Behind the Scenes at Help Portrait Berkeley

We all have that one photograph that we wouldn’t trade for anything. One that reminds us of the good times… of loved ones… of life before wrinkles.

In my favorite family photo my mom is rocking giant 80’s shoulder pads and a huge Asian perm fro. I’m 6 years old wearing a Captain America fanny pack and I have mini version of her perm fro. This photo brings me joy every time I look at my mom’s huge smile (she was so proud that she did the perms herself!) The truth behind the photo is at the time my family was struggling on welfare to make ends meet. But I don’t remember that, I just look back and remember that I was a happy kid with great parents.

On December 8th I got the chance to give that kind of photo to a stranger though Help Portrait, a community of volunteer photographers who donate their gear and expertise to provide portraits to those in need. Participants at the Berkeley Food and Housing Project were treated to a full makeover, professional studio photography, and a print to take home.

I had a great time doing event coverage photography. I learned a bit about studio lighting and posing from watching the pros at work. Got to play dress up with cute kids. Chatted it up with a diverse range of photographers. Even ate my first camera cookie. All the volunteers were so positive–I loved taking in their energy.

But the best part was connecting with the ‘models’ for the day. I admire the folks that showed up, despite their hardships, they knew how important it is to preserve the memories. It was so amazing watching them light up in front of a camera. These folks definitely taught me a thing or two about enjoying the moment.

There is a saying I love and it goes, ‘collect moments, not things.’ Here are a few of the moments I collected throughout the day.

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