Three UW-Stout instructors and 14 students and alumni volunteered for a project that brought smiles to the faces of dozens of more than 100 Chippewa Valley residents.
They took part in Help-Portrait in early December at the Eau Claire Senior Center. Help-Portrait is a worldwide effort by photographers and photo studios to provide free photo sittings and photo prints to people who may not be able to afford such services. In 2012 more than 76,000 portraits were taken in 47 countries, according to the website.
The six-hour Eau Claire event, organized by photographer Dan Thompson of The Side Street, included 43 volunteers who photographed 126 people. UW-Stout students and professors took portraits of 104 people after bringing equipment for four studios and six editing stations.
After photos were shot and edited, they were sent electronically to Sharp Photo in Eau Claire, which made 524 prints and had couriers drive the finished products every 20 minutes to the Senior Center.
“That was the cool thing. People literally walked out of there with pictures in their hands,” said Peter Galante, who teaches a photojournalism class in the apparel and communication technology department. Colleagues Julie Bower and Pete Schlosser also helped.
“Some of the people came from the homeless shelter and had never had a portrait taken. If you’re at the lower end of the income scale, having a portrait taken is frivolous. The project was an acknowledgement of worth to people who may not have high self-esteem,” Galante said.
Galante said the photographers’ job was to depict people “in a way they’re not used to. All the pictures I saw were pretty darn good.”
UW-Stout offers a minor in photography.
“It was an opportunity to use our photo skills to help others. Everybody was glad they participated and had fun,” said Lindy Lewan, of Thorp, a senior majoring in graphic design with a minor in photography. “People were just excited to have their picture taken. They walked out of there with a lot of pictures.”
Other students who volunteered were Alexandra Floersch, of Battle Lake, Minn.; Allison Greenseth, of Chippewa Falls; Jennifer Guitian, of San Fransisco, Venezuela; Elizabeth Klein, of South Milwaukee; Katrina Knaack, of Menomonie; Henrik Ludvigsson, of Kurortsvagen, Sweden; Katerina Manor, of Fall Creek; Kate McCoy, of St. Paul Park, Minn.; Tim Rohe, of New Berlin; Madeline Settle, of St. Paul; and Emily Tunison, of Osceola. Also helping were alumnae Ann Manor and Andrea Manor, both of Fall Creek.