I’ve been participating in Help Portrait for three years now. If you are unfamiliar with this, it’s a movement designed to give portraits away to people who couldn’t get them: the homeless, the addicted, the lost and broken. No matter the age or race, no matter the circumstance or crime, we take their pictures because we believe at the core of this movement that people have value, and that a picture is worth.
I went to Green Oaks Ranch in Vista and met some great guys who have recently transitioned out of prison, men who are dealing with some addiction.
I met David. A strong guy who had recently been released. He asked me, “Could you guys come back in February? My daughter is coming to see me. I haven’t seen her since she was 3.”
“How old is she now?” I asked.
“She’s 25. I’m going to meet my 3 year old grand-daughter.”
“Yes, yes we will be there.”
Dave didn’t want his picture taken, but once he saw it, he convinced the other men to have their picture taken. Dave had been in prison for over 10 years. He hadn’t seen a picture go from camera to computer—until that day.
I met another man named Vincent. His story is that his wife became addicted to heroin and he fell into that addiction; his life just unraveled. He was kind and friendly. The men looked up to him. He thanked us for coming and said, “This means more than you know.”
I think I’m beginning to understand, Vincent.
It was a simple program.
Find a place that needs their picture taken.
Find some photographers.
Figure out how to print the pictures.
I think we get so bogged down in the details that we miss the stories in front of us. We bury ourselves in committees and budgets, details and specifics. Error on the side of attempt, not fear.
I also met some fantastic guys from the Station Church in Carlsbad. During some breaks and lulls we laughed and chortled (had to get chortled in my blog at some point) like old friends. I guess that’s what service does; it bonds us and breaks down the preliminary get to know you awkwardness. They are as funny as me—a rare treat indeed.
So somewhere out there are pictures on mantels and being sent in envelopes. They are being carefully framed. Those pictures are talked about and hopefully treasured. And it’s my deepest hope that they exude freedom and a new story in their lives.