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Getting your picture taken. Doesn't seem like that big a deal to most of us. Considering the popularity of Instagram, Flickr and other photo-sharing sites on the internet, it happens millions of times a day.

But imagine that you're getting your photo taken for the first time. Think about how excited you'd be. Now, imagine that it's a professional photographer that's taking the photo. And you're getting your hair done. And makeup. How excited are you? Pretty pumped up, right?

Join me below the jump for the story of a movement that I'm proud to be part of.

When I volunteer for stuff, it's tends to be a big event. I've diaried previously about one such effort... My Time at the KC 2-day Free Clinic

It's not that I can't do small stuff. I just want to give my time and/or talent to groups that will benefit from it. In other words, I don't want to be the one who screws up everything.

Yesterday, I was one of the volunteer photographers for Help-Portrait. It is an organization in its fourth year with a very simple premise. 1) Find people in need. 2) Take their portrait. 3) Print their portrait. 4) Deliver their portrait.

How big has this movement gotten in a short amount of time? Not counting the photos taken yesterday, 16,488 photographers and 23,984 volunteers have given away 201,367 portraits at 1,720 locations in 60 countries.

The idea for this movement came from celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart. He thought he'd just get some friends together and give people their portraits as a way to give back to the community and a cool reason to hang out. He tweeted about it and didn't think anything of it. But then other photographers began responding, "Hey, if you do this again, let me know..."

Here in Kansas City, we had two locations. I was at Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. The other was at Ronald McDonald House next to Children's Mercy Hospital.

We set up lights and backdrops. We had volunteers from Paul Mitchell the School ready to do hair and makeup. We had people ready to edit and print the photos and also provide the files on a CD.

You'll notice that there are no pictures in this diary. That's because this isn't about us, the photographers... It's about making our subjects feel special for a day and giving them something they'll treasure. It's not about showing off our lighting or our skills as photographers. It's about giving something back to the community.

Now, that's not to say that I didn't get anything out of it. Each group I photographed printed out a photo that I was in with them and "autographed" it. The one that made me tear up a little was the one where the young girl in the photo called me the funniest person she'd ever met.

What I'd like you to do is to go to the Help-Portrait website and watch the videos there, or go to YouTube and search for Help-Portrait videos. Some of the stories there will make you cry, I'd almost guarantee it.

The event director for KC (Kevin Gibson) got to go up to the NICU at Children's Mercy Hospital. He met a woman who was from Nigeria. She'd had her twins three months early while she was here visiting her sister, who attends K-State. She stayed here for the first six months of their lives, but she could only take one of them with her when she had to go home when her visa ran out. After waiting five months, she got back in town Thursday and Kevin got to give them their portrait yesterday.

While you're at the HP website, I'd also like you to find an event in your area and sign up to help next year. You don't need to know anything about photography. We need people to do hair and makeup. We need people to greet these families or groups at the door when they arrive. Some groups have arts and crafts or games to keep kids occupied while they're waiting for something.

If there's no event in your area, start one. You don't have to have a fancy pro camera or the best photo printer. Use a point-and-shoot and take the files to Walgreen's to get them printed. You'd be amazed at how simple it is to make someone feel special and watch as their face just lights up. As long as it's motivated by love, it'll be fine. :)

I'm already looking forward to 12/7/13. In fact, some people in our group want to do this more than once a year, so we might try something in the spring. Possibly outdoors, if the KC weather cooperates. It'll be fun, though. :)

Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 7:36 AM PT: sees new tag Rec list? Really? Me? Thanks, guys... That's a first for me. :D

Originally posted to KCBearcat on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:37 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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