By Austin Leonard
On November 23, the Digital Media Art & Design program in partnership with the Art & Design Club held their 9th annual Help Portrait event in the Bristol Public Library. Each year the event provides high quality family photos to families who may not be able to afford them. Last year, otherwise. Last year, Help Portrait provided framed portraits and gift bags to thirty-nine families, consisting of over one hundred people. Many of the families who come have come consistently for several years, and often look forward to the event.
This year I volunteered at Help Portrait at the Bristol Public Library and was able to see first-hand how it works.
Many of the volunteers arrive at 8:30 am to assist in setting up the studio space, the sign-in and waiting area and the editing room. The event officially begins at 9:00 am. When the families arrive, they are greeted by a few volunteers to sign them in, and a waiting area stocked with a snack table and kids’ area.
Once they enter the photo studio, the photographer and their assistant arrange the family and try to achieve the family’s wishes arrangement wise. The photographers, who are normally upper-level Digital Media Art & Design students, use their skills gained through the program to produce high quality photographs for each family.
After the photographer finishes photographing the family, the camera’s SD card is sent to the editing room. Upon arrival in the editing room, an open editor receives the camera’s SD card and begins editing the photos, mainly focusing on the exposure (overall lighting of the photo), contrast, and the background. After the editor has finished editing and choosing the best images, they load them onto a flash drive. The main family photo is sent to the printer and printed once the process is handed off to the gift team.
The gift team trims the photo to fit in the frame, and prepares a gift bag containing the frame, the flash drive containing all the photos of the family, a Wal-Mart gift card to help with printing costs, a digital release form allowing the family to print additional images, and finally a card wishing them happy holidays. A member of the gift team or runner then delivers the gift bag to the family.
Being there and seeing the faces of the families light up as they receive their gift bag is honestly a blessing. It is an incredible experience overall and I would and will be returning to help again. Volunteers are always needed, and you don’t necessarily need to be a part of the Digital Media Art & Design program to help!
If you are interested, please contact Prof. Lee Jones in the Digital Media Art & Design Program at King University and keep a look out for the event next year!