I just returned from a 12-hour day at Help Portrait Steamboat. This year was our largest ever, serving over 110 people in a single day with free hair and makeup, a professional portrait session, and sending them all home with a framed print. We also had a special visitor – Santa!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Help-Portrait, it’s a global movement of photographers, hairstylists, makeup artists, and other volunteers donating their time, tools, and expertise to give a free portrait to those in need. I founded the Steamboat event in 2012 and continue to coordinate each year. We’ve always found an ability to go above and beyond the typical format to do things like providing a free meal to our guests, offering special Christmas presents to children in need, and send everyone home that day with a large framed print.
The event starts with making each guest feel comfortable and welcome as our distinguished guest. Local pastor Garret Prechtl volunteered at registration this year to explain the event to each guest and answer any questions they may have before asking one of our “ambassadors” to guide the group through the rest of the process.
Local hairstylists and makeup artists from the best salons in town ensure everyone is looking their absolute best before heading to the photo station. Heartfelt thanks to Emily Schmidt, Sharon Flanigon, Jessica Schlapkohl, and Mytina Eckhaus for volunteering their services, with Jessica and Mytina also helping for their third time in a row.
2016 required two professional portrait stations since doubling the number of RSVPs. We had a mixed collection of big lights, backgrounds, and other studio equipment that came from 3 different photographers in town. A special thank you to local professional photographers Andy Barnhart and CJ Berg. Each of them served over 50 people in just 6 hours, with CJ doing so for her third event in a row! These are truly professional portrait sessions for our guests.
Often times the kids are interested in how the photo equipment works. They always get a kick out of seeing thousands of watts in studio lighting fire after triggering the shutter from a large, professional dSLR. It’s also fun to photograph mom!
Being our third event, we had the processes down pretty smooth and started to let people review their images and pick a favorite for print printing. This was a special treat because often times a particular pose or composition is uniquely special to a family. All images were also emailed out for downloading after the event.
We were especially excited to welcome some new volunteers to the event, including my 6-year old daughter who helped Lindsey Richter with the printing and framing. Some of our prior guests also paid it forward as volunteers, including people with developmental disabilities from Horizons Specialized Services.
By far the most enjoyable part of the event is presenting people with their framed print. I especially love this photo of two different people showing each other their finished portrait.
And new this year – a visit from Santa! Special thanks to Brad Kindred for making that happen. Sorry the cookies were already gone Santa, but these memories and pictures will last forever.
All told we had 22 volunteers serving 117 guests with a free framed portrait. Thank you to everyone who made the event possible, from our volunteers to our guests to the library for providing the venue.
Below is a video showcasing five years of putting on this wonderful event in Steamboat Springs.