Free professional portraits offered during annual DTES event
Posted December 2, 2023 9:15 pm.
Last Updated December 3, 2023 6:08 pm.
Free professional portraits were offered at the Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on Saturday to help those in need.
The annual ‘Help-Portrait’ event began in 2011 in Vancouver, as part of a world-wide initiative spearheaded by photographers who donate their time and skills to give back to less fortunate communities.
Katy Fraser, a Union Gospel Mission community member, says she’s happy her fiancé and daughters could attend the event with her. She says after years of managing addiction in Alberta, she moved to Vancouver a year ago to get the help she needs.
“(Union Gospel Mission) gives mothers a chance to sober up and show that you can still be a parent,” she said. “It gives you a second chance at life.”
Participating families had the opportunity to capture a timeless memory through the free professional photo-op, which includes printed portraits to send to loved ones over the holiday season.
Fraser says she spent four years being homeless and she’s grateful for the community support here in Vancouver.
“They did my hair and makeup,” Fraser said. “I just feel really blessed and full of life.”
Jenny Valla, a member of the hair and makeup team, is one of dozens of helpers who was at the event to volunteer their time.
“This is my thirteenth year here,” Valla said.
Fraser says people like Valla make a huge difference to participants at the event.
“Being able to get your hair and makeup done beforehand gives you so much more confidence and creates memorable looks and experiences,” she said.
After the photoshoot, participants sit down with a consultant and select the photos they want printed.
Sarah Chew, media relations specialist for the Union Gospel Mission, says the printed photos can provide new hope to community members
“For some people experiencing poverty, homelessness and addiction, sitting down for a professional photoshoot may be unattainable at this point in their lives, so this gives them that… experience,” Chew said.
She says often, participants send the printed photos to family members as a way to check-in or update them on their lives
Fraser says she’s happy with how her photos turned out and plans to mail them to her family in Alberta.
“This is our first Christmas together as a family, and just being like ‘We are doing it’ And I can show my family that we are okay,” she said.