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Volume 24, Number 9 — September 2017

King University photography students hold Help-Portrait event

During the Help-Portrait event at the Bristol Public Library, King University photography students provided 48 families with portraits and other gifts.
During the Help-Portrait event at the Bristol Public Library, King University photography students provided 48 families with portraits and other gifts.

January 29, 2014

King University photography students hosted their fourth annual Help-Portrait event at the Bristol Public Library in downtown Bristol, Va. Help-Portrait events were originally founded by Jeremy Cowart as a way for a community of photographers to come together across the world to use their photography skills to give back to their local communities.

"Forty-eight families participated in this year's event along with 12 photography students from King University," said Joe Strickland, assistant professor of photography at King. "We had two studios and two editing stations set up at the Bristol Public Library. Families enjoyed refreshments along with a visit from the Chik-Fil-A cow and the Imagination Library. As each shoot concluded, we were able to print and frame a photo for each family to keep. In addition to their new family portrait, each of the families received a CD of printable images, a gift card to Walmart, and coupons to Chik-Fil-A." Strickland added, "Through the event, we hope to serve those in our community who might not otherwise be able to have a family portrait by a professional photographer. The families were able to come away from a heart-warming experience with a portrait that will last them a lifetime."

King senior Jessany Bowman is a photography major, Photo Club president, and organizer of the Help-Portrait event. "Help Portrait is a unique opportunity for us as photographers to use something we love, an art with which we are blessed to be talented and trained and use it to bring joy to others. We spend hours literally on our hands and knees to give families a memory they can cherish. It means something to have a photo of yourself; we're giving that to people who may have never had that before."

Doris Stickley with the Bristol Public Library commented that the Help-Portrait event is a wonderful collaboration that serves the community. "The King students were absolutely fantastic. The students came in; they set up; they took care of everything. I can't say enough good things about the [Help-Portrait] program itself, how coordinated the event was, and about Joe and the students. This was a real gift from the heart for the students."

Stickley added, "We've collaborated with King's photography department on the Help-Portrait event for three years now. It is a true service to the community." Strickland summed up the experience by saying, "The experience is really great from a professional standpoint, but the reward of seeing what photography can do for someone when you give it as a gift — it is moving for certain."