COURTNEY TINK

You have a job interview today. You have a warm shower and make sure that you look presentable. You print a copy of your CV that you spent the previous night going over with a fine-toothed comb, wondering whether you should or shouldn’t add that you won a reading prize in Grade 7. Without realising it, this entire routine is something that is taken for granted.

With the number of unemployed people always increasing and the resulting rise of homelessness, many individuals don’t have the opportunity to hand in a CV or take a photograph in which they appear clean and well-dressed.

Help Portrait Pretoria is attempting to correct this issue. Founded in 2008 by celebrity photographer, Jeremy Cowart, and President of Full Cycle Marketing, Kyle Chowning, Help Portrait aims to provide CVs, headshots and personal photographs for people in need.

The group is comprised of a small team consisting of photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists. Their objective is to find someone in need of a CV or portrait and to provide for them in a manner that empowers both the person and the photographer.

According to their website, Help Portrait operates in 67 countries. In 2016 writer and photographer, Catherine Tatham, and photographer, Henry Marsh, together with the Tshwane Leadership Foundation, are planning on bringing Help Portrait to Pretoria. Their aim is not only to adopt the aims and ideals outlined by Cowart and Chowning, but to also offer each person that is photographed the opportunity to add their portrait and their own personal story to a book which is being compiled with the intention of being published, where all proceeds will go to the Tshwane Leadership Foundation.

Tatham and Marsh aim to provide photographic services for both professional and personal occasions. While a CV is very important in finding a job and marketing yourself efficiently, the more personal side of photography holds the same amount of importance, if not more.

The project itself is funded by Jump Star, and FujiFilm SA has offered to sponsor the printing of 100 jumbo-sized images.

The team is planning on tailoring each shot to the different groups of people that are being photographed. For example, in August, Women’s Month, a shoot could be offered to mothers and children. That way any donations other than portraits and CVs could be tailored specifically to the needs of the event.

The photographers and stylists used will also be tailored to the specific shoots. Such tailoring could include a team that speaks the language of the individuals being assisted in order to ensure that the needs of the individual are being met fully. It is also important for Tatham and Marsh to ensure that each person on their team, per shoot, is there for the right reason. It is a project that gives back to the community and also uplifts the team that is assisting in empowering the community.

For now Help Portrait Pretoria will only operate in Pretoria in December 2016. There are hopes to expand into the other regions of Gauteng as well as Cape Town and Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The first event will be held on 3 December 2016 at Potter’s House in Pretoria CBD.

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