Social Encore: Giving back through photos
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
We are all still recovering from Thanksgiving eats and Black Friday shopping madness, but this is the time of year when everyone counts their blessings, slows down and appreciates what is around them. Even more so, this is the time when many give back to those in need.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, Kokua Kalihi Valley Health Center will host local photographers who are giving back to the community by offering free photo sessions. The event is part of a larger, national community service program.
As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but according to local photographer Brady Oshiro, a picture means more to him than just an image. Born and raised on Oahu, Oshiro was heavily involved in the local surfing scene and would capture his friends riding the perfect waves. His hobby slowly turned into a business and realized his passion for photography.
Oshiro and a handful of other photographers are donating their time, equipment and skills by providing free services during “Help A Portrait.” The movement was started by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart, who wanted to unite photographers from around the world and give them an avenue where their trade skill could be used in order to give back to the communities they lived in.
Photographers from around the world will take portraits not for their portfolio, website or for profit, but are doing this as a way for them to get to know their communities, and in some cases, for people to have a capture a moment they have been wanting to have a for a long time.
“Christmas comes once a year and it’s a chance for me to give someone a special gift,” said Oshiro. “To some people it might be just a photo, but for others it’s a chance to change their life, a feeling of hope, and or a feeling of love.”
This year will be Hawaii’s second time participating in the national event. The first time was in 2009 and Oshiro said many people walked into the event as strangers but walked out as friends. He said events like this help change the lives of people in the community but it too inspires him to be a better person, family member and photographer.
“Photography is a way to capture a moment and tell a story of your life,” he said. “Being a part of something special is important to me and it also reminds me of how important my own family and friends are. It encourages me to continue becoming a great wedding photographer and the person that I am today.”
When asked about digital images versus actual prints, he said there are many advantages to having both. At the event, photographers will provide both physical and digital copies of their portraits.
“In an age of technology and megapixels, it’s hard to compete with quality and speed, but the one thing a physical print photo has over any digital photo, is it’s simple,” Oshiro said. “It is tangible and something that you don’t need to charge or backup to see. Best of all, you can always take it with you. Yes, it takes more effort to make a print, but well worth it.”
The Kokua Kalihi Valley Health Center has become a hub for the Kalihi community, providing health care services to people who live within the area, but it has also has helped integrate various cultures into a tighter community. The non-profit has created initiatives such as a 100-acre plot of land called Ho`oulu ‘Aina. The land not only helps patients celebrate their cultures, but also serves as a learning tool to preserve Hawaii’s natural resources such as reforestation and helps teach healthy and sustainable lifestyles.
With a national movement and a non-profit both giving back to the community, Oshiro hopes they become stronger.
“I hope that this builds a community of people to helping others, photography and just make new relationships that were never there before,” he said. “Everyone is special no matter who you are or where you came from, we are all equal and ‘Help A Portrait’ is a way to encompass all of that through a photo.”
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.