This past Saturday, I volunteered as a photographer at our local Help Portrait event that was being held here in Fayetteville. If you have never heard of Help Portrait, it's a way for photographers and other volunteers to give back to their community through providing free portraits for those families who can not afford to have portraits taken. It was started in 2008 and has since expanded worldwide. There are photographers, editors, hair/make up artists, "runners" and general volunteers, all donating their time and equipment to provide free, professional portraits. It's truly life changing.
For those of you that don't know me very well, you may be surprised to find out that I have "issues" when it comes to stepping outside my comfort zone. I tend to hyperventilate, have mild asthma attacks, wake up at all hours of the night and am just generally a walking bundle of nerves leading up to the event that I'm about to be a part of. It's not just regulated to photography, either. I get this way before running half marathons, having Christmas dinners with David's boss, or the first day of school (tears usually flow on that day, as well). I'm not sure why I get like this, but it has happened nearly my entire adult life. My mom calls it stage fright.
Saturday was no different. I first heard about Help Portrait about three years ago and was intrigued by it, thinking that I could do this, I could at least sign up as a general volunteer. So I did, then at the last minute, my little Freak Out started happening and I bailed. Last year, the same thing happened: I signed up, then chickened out. This year, I attempted it again, signing up as soon as I got the email announcing this year's event.
But this year was different. Yes, I began hyperventilating and having asthma attacks and insomnia and stomach aches two weeks out, but I stuck to my guns, determined not to wimp out and cave in to my fears. David helped me set up Friday night at the high school and then all I could do was wait for Saturday to arrive and begin this new adventure.
I have no idea why I was so scared and nervous. Everyone there was so nice and helpful, offering to pose on my backdrop so I could get my lighting right, saying I could borrow their extra lights if I needed to, even showing me how to work the triggers that were attached. I made new friends and I learned soooo much just from watching the other photographers as they were shooting their families. And that was just the photographers and volunteers. The families that came in were wonderful and grateful and kind and a little amazed at the fuss that was being made over them. There were free meals provided, coloring/craft stations set up so the children could color and be entertained while their parents waited for their pictures to be edited and printed, Christmas music was playing in the background, with the atmosphere full of happiness and goodness.
The photographers wrapped up about 3:00, tearing down their sets and I did the same. David came back over to help me pack up and load up my car (he also took some funny pictures of me, but those shall stay hidden on my hard drive and never see the light of day! 😏). I drove home, quiet, exhausted, elated and proud of myself for finally sticking to my guns and participating in something that I wanted to do three years ago but was just too scared. I still can't quit thinking of Saturday and the amazing people I met.
The photos below I took on my phone. We weren't allowed to keep the photos we took of the different families, but you can get a general feel of the day form these shots. That's my little corner in the first one, the one with the black backdrop and one little light stand with the soft box perched on top. I can't wait to do it all again next year.