Doing The Help Portrait In Diepsloot Part 2 – The Hardest Bits..

It was in April this year that a couple of friends had the brilliant idea to give Help Portrait photos to 1,600 children in Diepsloot, one of the largest townships (squatter settlements) in Johannesburg. Inspired by their vision, I had rallied for the readers of this blog to contribute funds to help us achieve what was, at that point in time, still a rather daunting task to me.

The fund raising was a success. And what was even more heartening was that a bunch of volunteers had come forward to support our cause and together, we had successfully shot all the portraits for the children. I had closed up the day feeling remarkably strong. It felt like we had conquered Mount Everest. I’m exaggerating but it was a really really good day. I thought the toughest part was over and all that was left to do was process the pictures, print them, mount them on cardboard, and then we could go back to the township to distribute the portraits back to the individuals.

The processing part was painful. We had to sieve out the best ones among thousands of shots, crop and adjust them all to perfection. Some of the volunteers had never used Photoshop or Lightroom in their life and struggled through the processing. Miraculously, we all managed to get it done in time and one volunteer who had a professional printer printed all the portraits himself. Bless him!

We came back together again one evening to do what I finally realised was the hardest part of Help Portrait. The mounting of the portrait on cardboard.

It looked so easy. Just gliding some glue on a photo and sticking it on a piece of cardboard.

But our final tally was approximately 1,500 portraits and we had to stick every single photo on a cardboard!

I absolutely dreaded this part of the exercise. I was slow at it and I kept getting gummy glue everywhere. My friends teased me all night about spending more time cleaning glue off the table than sticking portraits on cardboard. Even the hubby, who found time to take all these shots of the night, did more portrait mounting than I did. Haha..

It wasn’t fun doing the mounting. But I had fun hanging out with my friends, laughing about leopard sighting experiences in Africa and admiring all the beautiful faces in the photographs.

This has been a tremendous amount of hard work. But the gorgeous faces that stared back at us from the prints made us all feel that it was worth every bit of effort and time that we have put in. We can’t wait to go back to the township to give the pictures back to the individuals!

Okay, it wasn’t a completely rough evening. We did indulge in a lavish pizza meal and lots of home-made macaroons, which fueled us for the long, monotonous session of cutting, gluing and pasting. Haha..

I still have a deck of photos to mount on cardboard at home and we target to have all photos ready for distribution by 1 August 2012.

To all readers of this blog who had contributed to this, a big thank you to you again. Your generosity has been our inspiration and motivation. Stay tuned for the distribution of the photos next month!

What is Help Portrait?

Watch this video. It says everything about what it is.

Help Portrait will be held on 8 December 2012 across the world.

In South Africa, you can register as a volunteer right away at Ubuntu Help Portrait.

All my blog posts on my involvement in Help Portrait are archived here.




  1. Oh, it was hysterical to watch you whine and get glue everywhere, Karen! Just too funny :-) In spite of the hard work, it was a great evening, wasn’t it? I especially enjoyed getting a good look at every single one of the beautiful faces, chatting, laughing, and drinking wine, – don’t forget the wine! Will be great going back with the finished product on the 1st. Big thanks again to your generous readers for making this possible!

  2. Well done, you folks are into the home-straight now! 😉

  3. Well done Bing! Gambare!!

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