Food bank offers free family portraits

Food bank offers free family portraits

For a lot of families, where to find their next meal or how to make ends meet is a daily question for a lot of families. Meanwhile, having their photo professionally taken falls pretty low on the list of priorities.

River Food Bank helped make that family photo a little more affordable Sunday by partnering with area photographers to take portraits for free.

“For a lot of us, getting a portrait taken is something we get used to or expect,” says event coordinator Althea Dotzour. “But for a lot of people out there, it’s a real luxury.”

Photographer Jim Barnard has donated his services to the event for two years and says it’s about more than taking pictures.

“Family is important to all of us, and it doesn’t matter what your income or what you do,” Barnard says.

Christen Coyle is one of several having her portrait taken at the food bank. She says each years she returns, inspired by another photo – one of her mother, who passed away from cancer years ago.

“I didn’t want to go out, didn’t want to do anything after she died,” Coyle said. “I didn’t feel alive, didn’t think I looked alive, looking in a mirror.

That year, Christen had her first professional portrait taken at River Food Bank, and her feelings changed in a flash.

“I saw the photo I had taken and saw how beautiful it was, and what’s what got me back into life,” she said. “I saw how actually pretty I looked, and normal, and good.”

“When people pick up their pictures, a lot of times there’s some tears,” says Dotzour. “When they come in, they feel happy, and they’re being treated with the respect everyone deserves.”

More than 1,000 people have signed up for the free service since it first began. But for Christen and others, more than the money saved, it’s the moments captured in a single click that mean the most.