the Me Ra Koh Blog

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Looking for Local Photog Volunteers This Saturday! (Portraits for Low Income Families and Single Moms)

Me Ra Koh

Last year, right before Thanksgiving, our pastor gave a moving sermon on how there are several ways to give to those in need.  He talked about how we can often get stuck thinking food and money donations are all we can offer to low income families, especially during the holidays.  “But what about the single moms who need someone to watch their kids for a couple hours so they can be alone, rest, take a break from being mom?” he asked.  “What about cars that some of us have, but don’t really need or use that we could lend?”  I feel like I remember him saying “What about a family portrait for those who can’t afford it?”

Whether he said that specific idea or not, it took root in my heart.  I don’t have to tell any of you how powerful and timeless a family portrait can be.  I’ve been thinking about this, mulling it over, for a year.  Then I heard about how all the big guns in the photo industry, like SONY and every other camera manufacturer, help host special photo shoots for military families called Portraits of Love!  Why not keep the heart of their idea going mixed with our own twist!  But I have to admit that in my mind it felt impossible for us to do because we have such a full plate already, but there is something magical that happens when you commit yourself to giving for the sake of giving–especially during the holidays–when you feel your heart tugging to just do it and trust that the time and resources will come.

So Brian and I jumped. And this is where we are at!  This Saturday, twenty five volunteers from our church and local area are coming together to take to take family portraits, bake cookies and just love on people.  Brian and I are hosting our first “Family Portraits of Love” event.  From 10-1pm, we will be offering free family portraits for any single moms or low income families.  Thanks to our Georgia CONFIDENCE teacher, Jen Tacbas, and her fast graphic design skills, we have handed out over 700 of these postcards to women’s shelters, low income neighborhoods, government child services, and MORE!

Family Portraits of Love, Non Profit Photo Shoot by Me Ra Koh and Team

I had an older African American woman at church on Sunday ask me if we would take her portrait.  She said she lives in Section 8 housing and can’t remember the last time she had her picture taken.  This precious woman sits in her wheelchair at the front doors of our local Target and says “God bless you” to people as they enter.  She is there almost every day.  I can’t wait to take her portrait.

But we are in need of a few more local volunteers.  We have the baking, hospitality, decorating and lovers of people crews figured out.  We already feel so blessed by the team that is coming together, many of them just wanting to help in whatever way is needed.  We have two of our CONFIDENCE teachers, Cheryl and Tonya, coming to help take photos.  The fabulous, photographer and friend, Julie Watts is also joining us.

Here is WHO and WHAT we still need:

-1-2 more photographers with both lighting set ups and backdrops.  Brian and I would love to have 4-6 portrait stations set up.

-Extra lighting kit (studio strobes, umbrellas, etc)

-1-2 (medium to large sized) Soft Box

-3-4 more photographers who can bring laptops with Lightroom and volunteer their time in the department of editing photos.  Eye Fi is donating the cards to us (thank YOU Eye Fi!!!), so we can wirelessly transmit images as we shoot and the editing team can edit right away.

-2 more photo printers with full ink jets and photo paper.  Right now we have two printers, but it can’t hurt to have more.  Our plan is to print on location so these families go home with their own portraits from the day.

-Anyone have local or national connections with Frame Shops that would want to donate a frame to each family?  Don’t know until you ask!  🙂 

-Anyone have connection to companies who make Photo Paper to donate? 

-Any other ideas that we should add to the mix?  I’m open!! 

If you are a local photographer in Seattle/Tacoma/surrounding area, and you want to come help us in one of the above areas this Saturday from 8:30am-2:30pm (official event is 10-1pm), we would LOVE to hear from you!  We may even have you help us set up on Friday at 9pm.  🙂  Great memories are only made after 9pm!  LOL!  Please email with how you can help, and we will send you the details!  Put “Family Portraits of Love” in the subject line.

Excited to share what happens with all of YOU!  My heart is filled with joy every time we work on this event!  It’s going to be beautiful, whether five families show up or a hundred or just sweet Mary.





  1. Darrel Patterson says:

    Have you heard of Jeremy Cowart and Help-Portrait?

  2. Love it!!! Thanks for sharing! I should connect with him!

  3. Me Ra says:

    So excited! We’ve got another photographer on board and one who is going to help edit! And we had an awesome organizing mtg today!

    Can’t wait for this!


  4. Darrel Patterson says:

    Go to and enter Help-Portrait in the search box. There are dozens of videos documenting H-P events around the world since the first one in 2009. Very inspirational!

  5. Kellie Pecoraro says:

    This is such an amazing idea! I am disappointed that I can’t help out this time. If it becomes a repeat event, I’d love to help out!

  6. S.kakarala says:

    Such a great idea! Wish I could be there to help!!

  7. Lynda in Gig Harbor says:

    What a great way to give back and bless these families! As I read the list, I don’t really fit into any specifically but I would love to come and help out on that day….assist the photographer with getting the families set up or really anything that you would need me to do. I could also bring my camera and be a backup. I’m not a professional but took up photography as a hobby in order to “minister” so this really pulls at my heartstrings.

  8. Jess Robertson says:

    So wish we could be there! It’s gonna be an amazing event! I didn’t even think about Help Portrait! I’ve done stuff with them in the past…great connection 🙂 hope you guys have a blast! xoxo

  9. Me Ra says:

    We have an extra laptop with Lightroom if a photographer can come to help edit (being familiar with Lightroom’s software).

    Let us know asap! Things are coming together great!!


  10. LOVE THIS!!!! I wish I lived anywhere near you. I would be there in a heartbeat.

  11. Jennifer Tacbas says:

    Wish I could have seen the awesomeness that took place that day! I love giving back to my community over here in southeast Georgia, so I would have been all over this if I lived a few thousand miles closer to you! 🙂

    (P.S. Thanks for the shout out on the postcard design work! I love how it turned out!)