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Dysert Hopes to Make Holidays Picture Perfect for Families in Need

November 18, 2013

Kris Dysert  
Kris Dysert

As the holiday season approaches, Kris Dysert will be giving gifts to area families and individuals that simply are priceless – the gift of dignity.

Dysert, telecom support technician and system coordinator for St. Louis Community College’s Technology and Educational Support Services office, will be putting her photographic skills to work as part of Help-Portrait, a worldwide effort to simply give the gift of a holiday portrait to individuals and families in need.

On Dec. 7, photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists and volunteers around the world will gather for the fifth annual Help-Portrait event. Dysert is organizing this year’s St. Louis event, slated 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at 1001 Park Ave.

Members of the community can get a haircut, light makeup, and a professionally photographed portrait on the spot, all for free, with no strings attached.

“I'm really excited about leading the Help-Portrait event this year,” Dysert said. “People without disposable income or stable addresses are often seen as things – the homeless – instead of fellow human beings. I want to be one of the people making them feel like what they are – human beings who have feelings, relationships, families, needs and stories to tell. That's what Help-Portrait is all about.”

In 2009, Help-Portrait began as an idea that transformed into a movement in just three months.  The idea behind Help-Portrait is simple:

  • Find someone in need.
  • Take their portrait.
  • Print their portrait.
  • Deliver their portrait.

Celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart formed Help-Portrait, a non-profit organization, in 2009 as he contemplated using his skills and expertise to give back to those who may not have the opportunity for a professional photo.  The idea is that a photographer has the unique ability to help someone smile, laugh and return their dignity. 

Help Portrait  

From Bangalore, India to Ghana, Africa to Ubuntu, South Africa to Chukotka, Russia, the language of Help-Portrait crosses cultural and socio-economic barriers. In the last four years, 20,371 photographers and 32,299 volunteers have given more than 282,295 portraits. Help-Portrait is a global movement in more than 2,100 locations in 62 countries. The annual Help-Portrait event takes place on a Saturday in early December each year, in addition to special events as the need arises.

“When I take photos of people, they are the most important person in the world at that moment,” Dysert said. “I think everyone should get the opportunity to be recognized and appreciated for the unique individual that they are.”

Dysert said hairstylists, makeup artists and other volunteers are needed for this event, as well as donations. Sessions such as this can cost as much as $300 per shooting.

To find out more about volunteer opportunities or to donate, visit https://purecharity.com/helpportrait-saintlouis or http://community.help-portrait.com/group/help-portrait-saint-louis.