Tomorrow’s the big Day!

Local photographers and volunteers offer a flash of hope to Cleveland families in transition


See the light
These are the memories we will help to make tomorrow during the annual Help-Portrait event at the Greater Cleveland Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Complex.

Tomorrow, photographers around the world will gather for the eighth annual Help-Portrait event. In 2008, Help-Portrait began as an idea that transformed into a movement in just three months. The idea behind Help-Portrait is simple: 1. Find someone in need 2. Take their portrait 3. Print their portrait and 4. Deliver their portrait.

Since the launch, more than 70,000 volunteers have given more than 350,000 portraits. Help-Portrait is a global movement in more than 2500 locations in 67 countries. The annual Help-Portrait event takes place on the second Saturday of December each year in addition to special events as the need arises.

For the fourth year, local writer and photographer Shelley M. Shockley will bring the movement to Cleveland as she and a team of volunteers join forces with the Salvation Army’s Zelma George Family Emergency Shelter to provide portraits to some of Cleveland’s transitional families.

The enthusiasm from site participants is exactly what Shockley was hoping for when she began organizing this effort, “When I learned of this movement and saw some of the photos from other parts of the world I wanted to bring that same sense of joy to the Cleveland community.”

The effort is also appreciated by the Salvation Army. “It is truly amazing! The impact of such a practical program that Shelley and the volunteers do each year for the participants in our Family Shelter. We are thrilled and thankful that they are coming back to Zelma George,” said Beau Hill, Executive Director, The Salvation Army Harbor Light Complex.

From 1-5 p.m., Shockley and a team of volunteers including barbers, hairstylists, makeup artists, photographers and other volunteers will gather at the shelter and set up “mini-studios” to bring the Help-Portrait movement to Cleveland at the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Complex, 1710 Prospect Ave.

To learn more about the Help-Portrait movement visit


About Help-Portrait:

Celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart formed Help-Portrait, a non-profit organization, in 2009 as he contemplated using his skills and expertise to give back to those who may not have the opportunity for a professional photo. The idea is that a photographer has the unique ability to help someone smile, laugh and return their dignity. It is a movement, a shift in photography.

From Bangalore, India to Ghana, Africa, the language of Help-Portrait crosses cultural and socioeconomic barriers.

About The Salvation Army:

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. For more information, go to


Thankful Tuesday: Cleveland’s Portraits of Hope

It’s “Thankful Tuesday” and I’m beyond grateful for the support I have been receiving for this year’s Help-Portrait event! After sending out a letter seeking volunteers and support, I have been inundated with generous folks offering to give their time and skills to aid in making life just a little brighter for those less fortunate.

The bright smiles of youth were captured by Photographer Stephanie Briggs.
The bright smiles of youth were captured by Photographer Stephanie Briggs during Help-Portrait 2012.

If you’re not familiar with Help-Portrait let me give you a little background and I’m sure you will agree that this is a worthwhile cause! This project was founded in 2008 by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart and Kyle Chowning a marketing guru (my words) as a way to utilize the skills expertise and tools of photographers, stylists, and makeup artists to give back to their communities.

So, how you ask do you do that? Well, you gather up some of the aforementioned folks and choose a local group – church, shelter etc. where you will find a segment of the population unfamiliar with participating in a photo shoot and you set up mini-studios and begin to capture the beauty within these individuals. The best part is – you present them with a professional photo right there on the spot!

Santa visits with children during the 2013 Portraits of Hope at the Greater Cleveland Salvation Army
Santa visits with children during the 2013 Portraits of Hope at the Greater Cleveland Salvation Army

Now to really understand and have your heartstrings tugged in many directions click here, to see an early video that explains this movement much better than I can. After viewing this video, I wanted to see if we could make magic in Cleveland by setting up a Help-Portrait event.

In December 2012, I gathered a group of angels to help pull off our first Help-Portrait event and we have been going strong each year. We partner with the local Salvation Army’s Zelma George Women’s Shelter and provide each of the participants with their very own professional photograph.

This year for the first time we have barbers, stylists and several makeup artists offering their support and I’m certain this will be the best Portraits of Hope we have held in Cleveland as part of Help-Portrait. If you would like to be a part of this fabulous event, please fill out the form below and we will contact you. I guarantee you won’t regret it! Giving brings so much joy!

Looking for the light – Help-Portrait 2014


The smiles say it all. This is the light we seek to find this Saturday during the 3rd Annual Help-Portrait Cleveland event.
The smiles say it all. This is the light we seek to find this Saturday during the 3rd Annual Help-Portrait Cleveland event.

In three short days a few Cleveland area photographers will have the opportunity to look for the light as they participate in the 3rd Annual Help-Portrait Cleveland event.

This annual event is called Portraits of Hope and it is our desire to leave the approximately 20 families we will photograph with a sense of hope. A belief that despite their current situation things will soon turn around for them.

We are looking for that light or sparkle in the eyes of children and parents. The sparkle that says in this moment – Life is good. This is one of my favorite events of the year and I hope they can feel and experience the joy that we are attempting to share with them.

If you would like to share in this experience we will be at the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland’s Harbor Light facility 1710 Prospect Ave. from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Count Down to Help-Portrait Cleveland

Only nine days until the first Help-Portrait event will be held in Cleveland and I’m nervous! This has been my baby for a few months now and I am saying prayers that all will turn out well. Please send up a prayer or two.

The good news is that we are going to help out families at the City Mission’s Laura’s Home and the Salvation Army’s Zelma George Family Emergency Shelter. Isn’t that a blessing! I started out wondering if I would have anyone to shoot and now we have at least 70 families, representing about 200 people.

Donations have been slow to come, but my crew of volunteers have stepped up to the plate, many not only offering their time but also financial or in-kind donations!

Grateful to these ladies for restoring my faith in the Help-Portrait Cleveland project. Seat (l-r) Stephanie Briggs and Angela Townsend. Standing (l-r) Bele’ Wondwossen, Keshia Johnson and Angela Tucker.

So wish us well as we try to bring a little cheer into the lives of our neighbors – One Portrait At A Time! If you’re reading this and you live in the Cleveland area and would like to help us out, please let me know. We are still seeking donations for snacks, props, and photo holders!