Local photographer Jonathan Cruz's portfolio is sprinkled with celebrities and high fashion models.

But today was different. Cruz was among ten volunteers stationed at the Carnegie Library in Chinatown to take pictures of low income and single-parent families.

They were participating in Help Portrait, an international movement of photographers who volunteer their time and services for the less fortunate.

Several of the subjects photographed on Saturday were from the Downtown Eastside, where the homeless rate is high and addiction is commonplace.

Many residents could not afford the price of a portrait -- until today.

"One of the things I hope we can show is that these people count," Cruz said. "They matter. They mean something. They're important."

Eastside resident Carol Martin participated in the event, and says she had never been treated so royally in her life.

"It's like letting people know you're part of this community too. And it strengthens the community," Martin said.

The event was put together with help from the Nehemiah Foundation Vancouver, the Salvation Army, the Union Gospel Mission, YWCA Crabtree Corner, Eagles Nest Preschool and more than 12 churches.

Organizers hope to make the service, held on the 12th day of the 12th month, an annual event.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger