The Art Start Portrait Project offers homeless and court-involved New York City teens, who rarely have access to the arts, the opportunity to create empowering dreams of their future and show the world how they want to be seen. Through creative workshops and in-depth dialogue, participants explored personal identity and envisioned their lives without boundaries. With support from world-class photographers, retouchers and stylists, those visions now come to life  in a large-format photographic print.  With all of the elements in place, these images represent a picture of inspiration and hope.

“Art Start really helped me to expand my mind. I found a space where I could be comfortable. I was always this person who kept everything in, and now I can actually speak about what I'm going through.”

–Prince Akeem

The Portrait Project challenges the belief that the future simply will be a continuation of a difficult past. When given the freedom to imagine, the courage to believe and the resources to create, we profoundly transform how we interact with the world.


The Portrait Project gallery exhibition is available for rent or purchase by Art Start approved gallery spaces, organizations and schools.

All fees are tax deductible and will benefit Art Start’s Homeless Youth Outreach, a program that offers creative arts workshops up to 4-nights a week at NYC homeless shelters to youth 5 to 21-years-old.

Press Contact: / 212-460-0019


Participating photographers on this project include Anyway Reps’ Natalie BrasingtonAdrien BroomJosh DalsimerSteve Giralt, and David Johnson, as well as photographers Heidi GutmanAlina Gozin’aDavid LangZachary Maxwell Stertz, and Ken Pao.  AnywayReps also lent production to this project, providing many stylists from their roster and professional contacts to contribute their time and talent to Art Start youth and Beyond Costumes provided wardrobe. Fast Ashleys Studios in Williamsburg, Brooklyn donated all photo equipment and studio space for the shoot locations, along with The New York Palace Hotel who donated the use of The Jewel Suite at The Towers, designed by Martin Katz. ImageBrief supported the project with on-demand backplate images. DCOY Studios donated all retouching for the project.

Writers bringing the youth’s accompanying stories to the project include: Rosa JH Berland, Rashida Bumbray, Allegra Ben-Amotz, Robbie Whalen, Amanda McCormick, Sarah Barrett, Nina Spierer, Frank Santo, Judith Sackoff, Ellen Neuborne, Alexandra Talty, Nichole LeFebvre, and Annie Coreno.

Read about The Art Start Family Portrait Project which empowered 50 homeless families through family portraiture, photographed by: Martin SchoellerAndrew EcclesJim Wright, Peter YangEric OgdenDavid JohnsonNatalie Brasington among many others.