OGDEN -- Teddy Melendez cradled his week-old son, Juliyen, his eyes tearing up in gratitude for the kindness of five Utah photographers who donated their services to provide portraits for local low-income families.
"We're having a little financial problem right now and we saw they were going to be providing this service and we thought it would be a perfect opportunity for us," Melendez said. "I mean, we have this little one-week-old baby and we wouldn't be able to do this otherwise. It's just awesome. People who do things like this just make the holiday season so much brighter."
Dani Tyler, the Ogden photographer who took the Melendez family portrait, said she has the equipment and time, so why not help out.
"Look at this little baby. How could you not get a picture of a one week-old baby," Tyler said. "Unfortunately baby pictures can be very expensive and it's heartbreaking to know there are people out there who can't afford it. I feel there are families who need help so why not help them, especially if it will make their Christmas a little better."
Tyler was the lead photographer for Help-Portrait Day, held at the Marshall White Center on Saturday. The worldwide event, created last year by Nashville-based photographer Jeremy Cowert, provides
free portraits to people in need.
"This event would not be possible if it were not for the photographers and their willingness to share their equipment, expertise and talents," said Julia Malstrom, family self-sufficiency program coordinator with the Ogden Housing Authority. "Appointments have been set up for 15-minute photo shoots, but we are also taking walk-ins."
The photographers spent eight hours taking hundreds of pictures of children, adults, families, the elderly and babies. Malstrom said this is the first time many of these folks had their portrait taken.
"For others it may be the only time they are able to share with their families that are separated by distance," she said. "The stories and reason why this event is going to be meaningful to the participants unique and it's an opportunity for everyone to fee special during this holiday season."
Virginia Florence and her family haven't had their portrait taken in years. Salt Lake City photographer Chris Dickenson took their picture.
"It is just so sweet of them to come out and do this. Their kindness is just overwhelming," said Florence. "We don't have the funds for a family portrait and we've been wanting to do this for a long time and these kind and generous people have made it possible. It just means so much to us. We are very grateful. Very grateful."