Notifications

'This is who I am': Photographers take free portraits at Siloam Mission

John Strong beamed a giant smile as a camera snapped his photo Saturday during the Help-Portait project, through which professional photographers provide their services at no cost to those who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford them.

Help-Portrait’s aim is to make sure everyone has a picture they are proud of

John Strong smiles as his photo is taken at Siloam Mission on Saturday. (CBC)

With a bright light shining on the side of his face, John Strong beams a giant smile as a camera snaps a photo of a special moment.

He went to Winnipeg's Siloam Mission for food Saturday but left with a unique gift — his first professional portrait.

"I'm probably going to send it out to my family for Christmas — my kids anyways," he said. "I'll send it to my kids. They can see a smile on my face."

Strong, who is originally from Kenora, Ont., was taking part in the Help-Portrait project. In cities around the world, professional photographers provide their services at no cost to those who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford them.

"It's just the ability to show, 'This is who I am. This is my family. This is who I am today. I'm OK,'" said Jon Adaskin, a co-ordinator for Help-Portrait in Winnipeg.

Adaskin has been doing Help-Portrait for nearly a decade and has heard a lot of different stories from people as he stands behind his lens. One woman told him that she had never seen a photo of herself.

"I can't even hardly wrap my head around that in this day and age," he said.

Adaskin spoke about another family that came through with younger kids. Although they were homeless, there were big smiles and laughter as he snapped the photos.

He said having a photo can be important for a person to feel valued, especially when they can hold it and look back on it.

"It's very tangible. It's a memory, it's the day-of. It brings back all kinds of feelings and thoughts of the positivity that goes on here."

As Strong looked at the different photos taken of him, he smiled once again. "It made me feel better," after what he described as a really hard morning.

"I liked it. It's something different and it's never happened to me before."