Journalism Department offers free portraits to North Philly residents

As part of an international movement that provides free portraits to needy families, the School of Media and Communication’s Department of Journalism hosted a photography session for members of the North Philadelphia community Dec. 8.

Kriston Bethel, JOUR ’12; Sarah Fry, JOUR ’11; and journalism student Ian Watson, roamed North Broad Street offering their skills to those in the neighborhood, attracting eight people to take advantage of their studio in Annenberg Hall’s atrium.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about the number of people you help, just that you come out of it helping someone in some way,” Bethel said. “Providing a mother with a portrait of her children or a man with a print of himself looking happy can be invaluable to them.”

photos by Jon Yu

The project was part of Help-Portrait, which he said has provided nearly 550 portraits in Philadelphia and more than 70,000 around the world this year.

“Last year, I shot a family of six for whom it was only their second time having their picture taken together as a family. It’s a very rewarding experience to know your work can directly and positively affect someone’s life,” Bethel said.

The photographers were able to spend time with the kids who arrived for the portrait sessions, teaching them about the equipment and how photography works.

“This one little boy…was so curious about all of our photo gear and asked millions of questions. We let him and a few others actually take a few pictures, though we did keep close supervision on them. Camera gear is heavy and expensive, and little hands are somewhat clumsy, after all,” Watson said.

The photographers were able to edit and print on the spot, so those who took advantage of the opportunity were able to leave with their new portraits.

“We’ve definitely learned a lot from this year and will definitely expand next year to with the hope of serving even more people,” Bethel said.

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