Photographer Gem faces up to fundraising portrait challenge

Gemma McNeil-Greig taking Kenton Batley's portrait SUS-150223-090953001
Gemma McNeil-Greig taking Kenton Batley's portrait SUS-150223-090953001

PORTRAIT photographer Gem McNeil-Greig faced up to a fundraising challenge.

She captured the looks of ten subjects in a ‘portraitahon’ in Bognor Regis.

The portrait of Antonia Rolls SUS-150223-090815001

The portrait of Antonia Rolls SUS-150223-090815001

Her five hours behind the lens was in aid of the 
Give 4 B.E.T.H charity.

Bognor resident Gem, 36, said: “I’ve raised about £100 for the charity.

“I’ve been taking portrait photographs for six months, after working with moving pictures. I read about the charity and, having lost someone with a terminal illness, it was a cause really close to me.

“I wanted to do something for the town as well.”

Gill Lake had her portrait taken in the event SUS-150223-091507001

Gill Lake had her portrait taken in the event SUS-150223-091507001

Give 4 B.E.T.H was started by Rich Sherwell in 2013 to give belief, time, encouragement and happiness to help young people fulfil their life-changing dreams.

It began to help raise £40,000 for four-year-old Bethany Chiddle from Felpham to undergo a life-changing selective dorsal rhizotomy operation in the United States.

Bethany was diagnosed at an early age with quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

The operation not only offered her the chance to walk unaided but also allows her to lead a more independent life as she grew older.

Lucy McLouchlin was among those who took part in the event SUS-150223-090910001

Lucy McLouchlin was among those who took part in the event SUS-150223-090910001

Since helping Bethany’s dream come true the charity – which also backed the Help Tom Toddle campaign – has gone from strength to strength and is fast becoming more widely known in West Sussex.

As well as funding local projects, Give 4 B.E.T.H is successfully building a support network for local families and children to share their experiences, knowledge and any questions.

Gemma’s session last Friday at The Core business hub in Belmont Street included an artist, a musician, an ice cream seller and even a giant bunny.

She is planning a further session next month and hopes to put the resulting photographs on display. A book, Bognor Faces, is also a possibility to raise more money for Give4Beth.

Kenton Batley's portrait SUS-150223-090934001

Kenton Batley's portrait SUS-150223-090934001

“I like to get the real essence out of people for their portraits,” she said. “I want to get to know someone by chatting to them and getting them to connect with the camera.

“A professional session can take up to two-and-a-half hours. I probably spend more than half of that time talking to them rather than taking their photographs.”

She hopes as well to enter some of her work in the 2015 national portrait awards.