A family has its portrait taken by a SBJPG photographer
Maude Kusserow

Santa Barbara’s Twelve35 Teen Center, in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Police Department’s Police Activity League, hosted its second annual Help-Portrait event last Saturday.

Founded in 2009 by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart, Help-Portrait is a worldwide organization comprised of professional shutterbugs who donate their time and services to folks who cannot afford family portraits. Each December, Help-Portrait locations pop up (anyone can organize the event in their town), and area photogs volunteer to take pictures.

“It’s such a wonderful way for professionals to give back to the community,” said Judith Lugo, Twelve35’s program director. “It’s so wonderful to see professional people donate their time to a good cause.” This year, Twelve35 partnered with the Santa Barbara Japan Photography Group (SBJPG), headed by photographer Kenji Fukudome. One hundred and seven families made appointments for pictures this year, more than double last year’s number.

Upon arriving at the Teen Center, families had their photographs taken by one of the photographers volunteering from the SBJPG; they were then shown the snapshots on computers and picked which one they would like to have printed. Each family leaves with a printed version of their portrait and a disk with all their photographs on them.

To date, Help-Portrait has taken more than 500,000 portraits. The goal is to make professional photography accessible to everyone and encourage photographers to utilize their skills to make a difference in the world. Help-Portrait is not about financial gain, no money is ever exchanged, and every person involved is a volunteer; the basis of the organization is based on celebrating the holiday season by giving a family something they may not have the chance to get on their own. “I’m so glad to be a part of this organization,” said Fukudome. “What could be a better Christmas present than a family photo?”


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