My first memory is of standing in the yard when I was about three years old, having my picture taken by my father. I spent hours in Dad’s basement darkroom, watching images come to life in trays of chemicals. We had slide shows in the living room every Sunday night.
I’m a photographer’s daughter, and a childhood without photographs is unthinkable to me. But there are lots of kids in the world, especially around here, who have never had their picture taken. Help-Portrait is trying to change that.
Help-Portrait recruits volunteer photographers to visit economically underprivileged communities, take pictures of kids (and adults) who live there, and then return later to deliver the prints to their subjects. For many of the recipients, this is the first photo of themselves that they’ve ever received.
Help-Portrait is a big deal in Joburg. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t participated in one of their shoots, especially considering how much I love a good photo-share. But several of my friends are Help-Portrait veterans, and last weekend I got to go with them to a photo-handout event in Kliptown.
Kliptown is the oldest and most historic section of Soweto. It’s also one of the poorest. The squatter camp we visited in Kliptown has no electricity (at least not legally) and no running water inside the houses. The streets are unpaved. There is one portable toilet for every 20 families.
A typical home in Kliptown.
This community doesn’t have much in the way of material things. But it does have the Kliptown Youth Program. KYP is where the hope is. It’s where we went to give out the portraits.
Excitement builds as volunteers lay out the photos taken of kids at the Kliptown Youth Program.
I don’t think I need to say a lot more. I’ll just show you the pictures.
Happy kids at KYP.
A boy with his portrait.
Preparing for a group photo.
Martina having a ball with the kids. We practically had to drag her away by the hair.
I’ve written many posts about photography — how it brought me to Africa and helped me learn about myself and the world around me. Now, more than ever before, I feel the power of the picture. Hopefully these kids feel it, too.
The dog did his best to entertain the kids but I think he was sad that he didn’t have his own photo. Maybe I will start a Help-Portrait for canines.