Help Portrait wraps up after 8 successful events

Ed Eng Dave Palangio Photo

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After eight years and 400 portraits, the cameras have been shut off.

Volunteer John Wallace said last year was the final Help Portrait event, which took place inside the cafeteria at Ecole Secondaire Catholique Algonquin.

“We would have loved to carry it on, but there was a number of factors that stopped us, such as the passing of local photographer Ed Eng,” Wallace said Thursday.

Eng died in June 2017. Volunteers dedicated last year’s event, which he started, in his honour.

Wallace said it was Eng who brought Help Portrait, which is part of an international movement, to North Bay.

But there were other contributing factors, as well.

“Some of the other factors was the equipment we were using was becoming obsolete. We couldn’t afford to buy printers, photographers are getting older and have contributed free for all of these years and we would have to start fundraising, which was something we never did before,” Wallace explained.

Wallace said the reward was plentiful, but everything was pointing volunteers in a new direction.

“It’s really bitter sweet. The reward we received every year was seeing the smiles on the faces of those who would never be able to afford a family portrait,” he said.

But it was so much more than just providing a picture to hang on the wall.

“It was Ed’s vision to make this event a big production. To create a New York studio atmosphere and provide an experience they will never forget,” Wallace said.

In addition to getting a professional portrait, guests were glammed up by hairstylists and makeup artists. Food was served and music enjoyed.

Wallace said there are so many memories he will fondly cherish.

“There was one lady who came in and she had a huge smile on her face. She had a lot of struggles in her life, but after seeing the picture that was taken you never would have imagined the difficulties and challenges she faced. It was absolutely beautiful.”

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