Above: our crew at Help-Portrait on Saturday. From LtoR: Pete Collins, Me, Matt Kloskowski, RC Concepcion, and Erik Bernskiold. Photo on laptop by Scott Krebs. 

On Saturday morning a group of us from Kelby Media Group (including Matt, Pete, RC and Erik Bernskiold [our buddy visiting this week from Sweden]) and were very fortunate to be a part of the wonderful Help-Portrait movement founded by our friend and entertainment photographer Jeremy Cowart, and once again it was a very special day for everybody involved.

Above: Here’s the main shooting room, with four shooting bays set-up side-by-side.

This year, RC organized our local Help-Portrait event, which consisted of photographers and assistants, make-up artists and hair stylists, IT wizards, and Photoshop retouchers, who call came together to make portraits for moms and their kids living at Operation PAR, a women’s drug abuse treatment center in Pinellas County, Florida. The women and their children live in a ‘village’ operated by the center, and for most of them this was their first and only portraits of them with their children (or even just photos of the kids by themselves).

Above: Here’s one of their first stops—make up. 

RC was out front coordinating the shooting, and Matt, Pete, Erik and I were in a separate room doing all the retouching and outputting 8×10″ finished prints right on the spot, and thanks to RC’s excellent planning and execution, the whole thing worked amazingly well.

Above: RC did an amazing job organizing our local Help-Portrait shoot, and here he is telling us how the workflow is set up, and just generally picking on Erik for being an industrial spy from Volvo.

Honestly, the retouching job itself was fairly easy, and we were in a completely separate room, and we had Christmas music playing all day, and it was actually a lot of fun to be a room with all these guys in the “retouching zone” but we needed to keep things light because every time you open a photo of a mom and her children in Photoshop, your heart breaks a little for them.

Above: Our buddy Erik Bernskiold (more affectionately known as “Erin Brockovich” or just “Brocky” during our retouching day), was in town this week and he volunteered to be one of the retouchers. We took him in this week like he was one of our own, even though we knew he was just here secretly spying for IKEA. 

I have to take my hat off to Jeremy for being behind of all this, because until you experience what this does for people yourself, you’ll never realize what it means to these people who are struggling in such a difficult chapter of their lives.

Above: Matt Kloskowski was just a few workstations down from me, and all day long Matt and I would sing our own versions of Christmas songs where we kept substituting Swedish phrases, Erik’s name, and some really lame Swedish jokes just to mess with Erik.

Ours is just one story in many of thousands around the world that Jeremy and Help-Portrait touched that day and I’m just so happy that we got to be a small part of it. Anyway, here are a few more behind-the-scenes shots from our day.

Above: That’s me at my workstation before the retouching zone got ramped up to full speed.

If you took part in a Help-Portrait shoot, and you’ve posted your images or stories from your day, I encourage you to post them here as a comment. Thanks to Jeremy (and locally to Dr. Michael Sheehan from PAR) for giving us a way to do something we love and get to give something back in such a meaningful way. For more info on Help-Portrait, follow this link.