In need of a new family portrait? Perhaps a career-ready portrait to complement your resumé?
On Saturday, Dec. 5, 25 to 30 members of Help-Portrait Riverbend will provide their talent, equipment and help at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1308 building at no charge.
“This event is all-inclusive,” photographer Jim Thompson says. “You can bring your whole family for a photo.”
Thompson has “had a camera in hand since the age of 8” and has gained years of professional experience with the Alton Citizen, Sears Portrait Studio and as the senior photography trainer at CCL Photo Imaging of St. Louis. He has been involved with the Riverbend chapter of Help-Portrait for four years.
Help-Portrait was started in 2008 by professional celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart and Kyle Chowning in Franklin, Tenn., with the local chapter formed in 2011 by PBC Photography in Bethalto. The local chapter is sponsored by the Alton Area Photography Group.
“One day a year, photographers offer their services free of charge to veterans, underprivileged families, single adults — anyone,” Thompson says. “The event will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and there will be at least five different sets available for either no or very little wait time. We can include up to 25 individuals in a single photograph.”
Thompson explains what makes professional portraits so special.
“More photos are now taken in a single day than were taken in an entire year in the 1830s,” he says. “I still hold the view that holding out your hand and taking a ‘selfie’ does not make a good portrait by comparison.”
After each photograph is taken, participants will be directed to a table for a copy on CD and full copyright release to post freely on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
“We’ll also have wi-fi available at the event so that people can email the photos directly to family and friends,” Thompson says.
These methods of distribution will be employed as alternatives to print copies of the portraits this year.
In being held at the VFW, this year’s event has a special focus in reaching out to a younger generation of veterans involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who need professional shots while searching for new careers.
Becky Wilmore, Auxiliary senior vice president, agrees and explains the importance of the latest generation of veterans becoming actively involved with the VFW.
“The VFW has a major voice in Congress and 1308 was once the largest post in the state of Illinois — even larger than Chicago,” she says. “A lot of younger generations don’t feel the same camaraderie that the older generations felt, but without them, we can’t go on much further. We’d like for our younger veterans to be educated on the benefits of the VFW.”
The VFW is a handicapped-accessible establishment and will provide full service to anybody with a disability interested in attending the event.
Help-Portrait Riverbend is accepting donations of blank CDs, DVDs and SDHC cards with a comparable speed class of 6 or above. Cash donations will be forwarded to the VFW. To donate, bring items or money directly to the VFW or contact Jim Thompson at email@example.com or (314) 355-0020.