Personal portrait projects are a great way to let loose and get creative, and at the same time can help a good cause. I reached out to my good friend Matt Wallace at the Heights Foundation in Fort Myers to pitch him an idea I had for the Foundation’s new community center in the Harlem Heights neighborhood of South Fort Myers.
“Harlem Heights is a severely distressed community, with kids living in poverty at twice the rate of the rest of Lee County.”
“The foundation is a grassroots, hands-on organization that celebrates the strength and diversity of the community and has the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty. Its work supports community development programs for individuals, students, and families, and provides charitable outreach projects in the community.” – Heights Foundation Mission Statement
The idea was to shoot fun expressive portraits of kids who benefit from the Heights Foundation, and then create large prints to help decorate the walls of the new building.
Matt suggested we photograph kids from the after school program at the center. The after school program is an integral part of the center’s commitment to the community.
I wanted to let the kids be themselves, expressive, fun and not feel like they had to pose for a typical school or family portrait. We shot over 40 kids during 2 days at the center.
I was able to negotiate a generous discount for the portraits to be printed 20×20 directly on foamcore locally by Suncoast Indentification Solutions, thanks to Corey Savage, their Director of Business Operations. They also donated prints to give out to the families of the children we photographed.
The success of the project is thanks to Matt Wallace who gave me the opportunity to shoot this project and coordinated with the center and the foundation to make this happen. The kids were amazing and had a great time mugging for my camera, the look on their faces say it all.