“I feel beautiful!” It’s been a long time since Eliza felt that way. Today, she has makeup applied by a professional, and her hair is freshly styled. She’s wearing a black dress with a rhinestone brooch.
“I was homeless, we used to live under the bridge,” she says. Today, she, her husband and their 16-year-old daughter are getting picture ready at Help Portrait.
Every December, photographers and makeup artists around the world give back. Their mission is to capture a moment, a memory for those who may not otherwise be able to afford a photograph.
Javier Salazar has photographed hundreds of people in 8 years at this event. He says more than 3,000 portraits have been taken in that time. “It gives them hope. It gives them self-esteem, like they are worth it. They get to shine today. We get some people who haven’t had their photo taken in years.”
Eliza’s husband, Kevin smiles as his daughter Jaeodon shyly says she “feels like a princess.” Her hair is curled by a stylist, and her makeup is perfect. Her father brushes a strand of hair out of her eyes and says,
“I’ve been stuck out there and a lot of times you are just hopeless. And without these agencies people would have nothing. When you are out there you feel very invisible. People forget they are human beings.”
He particularly remembers The Mustard Seed. “I stopped there for clothes for a few times, I’ve had many meals there.” He now has a home in the West Edmonton, where things aren’t perfect, but he admits his family has come a long way. “I haven’t looked back and I don’t want to,” he says.
And he doesn’t have to. For one day at least, his family enjoys a free meal and leaves with a moment captured in a family portrait.