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King University News :: King Photography Help-Portrait Event Holiday Treat for Local Families

On November 23, 2013, King University Photography students hosted their fourth annual Help-Portrait event, which took place at Bristol Public Library in downtown Bristol, Va.

The Help-Portrait events were originally founded in 2009 by celebrity photography Jeremy Cowart as a way for a community of photographers to come together across the world to use their photography skills to give back to their local communities. 

“Forty-eight families participated in this year’s event along with 12 Photography students from King University,” said Joe Strickland, assistant professor of Photography for King. “We had two studios and two editing stations set up at the Bristol Public Library. Families enjoyed refreshments along with a visit from the Chik-fil-A cow and the Imagination Library. As each shoot concluded, we were able to print and frame a photo for each family to keep. In addition to their new family portrait, each of the families received a CD of printable images, a gift card to Walmart, and coupons to Chik-fil-A.”

Strickland added, “Through the event, we hope to serve those in our community who might not otherwise be able to have a family portrait by a professional photographer. The families were able to come away from a heart-warming experience with a portrait that will last them a lifetime.”

King senior Jessany Bowman is a Photography major, Photo Club president, and organizer of the Help-Portrait event. “Help Portrait is a unique opportunity for us as photographers to use something we love, an art with which we are blessed to be talented and trained, and use it to bring joy to others. We spend hours literally on our hands and knees to give families a memory they can cherish. It means something to have a photo of yourself; we're giving that to people who may have never had that before.”

Doris Stickley with the Bristol Herald Library commented that the Help-Portrait event is a wonderful collaboration that serves the community. “The King students were absolutely fantastic. The students came in; they set up; they took care of everything. I can’t say enough good things about the [Help-Portrait] program itself, how coordinated the event was, and about Joe and the students. This was a real gift from the heart for the students.”

Stickley added, “We’ve collaborated with King’s Photography Department on the Help-Portrait event for three years now. It is a true service to the community. Most importantly, it is what Christmas is about; it is about giving.”

Strickland summed up the experience by saying, “It was really good hands-on experience for the students. The experience is really great from a professional stand point, but the reward of seeing what photography can do for someone when you gift it as a gift - it is moving for certain! The gift is something everyone responded to – those giving it as well as those receiving it.”

For more information on King College’s Photography Department, visit


King University is a Presbyterian, master's-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.