There wasn't a great fit for a gallery for this post, so here it sits... Working in law enforcement I encounter many people every day. Many who are your average Joe citizen, some are those who have had a very privileged life, but most commonly, it's those who have struggled. Struggled financially, emotionally, socially, you name it. I go into homes where the best and happiest family memory they have is something many of us probably get to enjoy every day. Most noticeably for me, as a photographer, is the obvious lack of any family photos. Most of us take for granted that we have generations of photos to look back on, talk about, use to bring back memories. Many families I meet lack this privilege. At best they have a few photos they snapped on their cell phone, but those are often lost when they change phones, change housing, or run from violence leaving everything behind. I see blurry images printed on printer paper, tapped to the wall. I see broken photo frames holding what is sometimes the only family photo they have. Knowing what they mean to me, it makes me upset that they often don't have lasting family photos to cherish. For years I thought about this. I asked myself how I can help using my talents. I wanted to use my skills to bring photography to those who couldn't otherwise afford it. After asking around, a photographer friend of mine pointed me to a group named Help-Portrait (www.help-portrait.com) as a possible way to accomplish my goal. Long story short, I ended up borrowing the model they created and organized my own event, but not under the Help Portrait name or umbrella. Over the course of three years I tried to bring it together, but various issues kept it from coming to fruition. Eventually, I partnered with a local photographer who was instrumental in recruiting and organizing local photographers to help (I learned that trying to organize photographers is a bit like herding cats...) On December 2nd of last year we finally hosted our own event. Our local Salvation Army cut us a deal on renting their gym for the event and a fundraising group comprised of retired law enforcement funded it. We had six photographers and set up five photo bays and we had two printing stations running. There were many kinks along the way, but we learned from them and vowed to make this an annual event. The feedback from the families was incredibly rewarding. We had families who left everything behind after fleeing domestic violence to families who had never had a family portrait done, and even a family being held together by a single mother with cancer who wanted photos to give her children if she didn't survive. In the end, the point of this is to encourage anyone who can use their talents (photography or otherwise) to put them to good use and help others when you can. If you want to use photography as your method to give back it's as simple as you and a friend taking a day each year setting up one or two bays and making it happen. It's the most rewarding thing you can do. Here's a couple snaps of the event. I'm hoping to expand it to service up to 150 families next year.