Edmontonians often pushed off to the side were front and centre on Saturday, as local artists worked to capture their spirit in a single frame.

The initiative, called Help-Portrait, is part of a world-wide movement of photographers, hair stylists and makeup artists who are volunteering their time and talents to give back to the city's needy during the holiday season.

Participants are asked to find someone in need, then take, print and deliver their photo, in a bid to acknowledge and celebrate their place in society.

One of the estimated 2,000 people who turned up for the Edmonton event was Lyle Nipshank - a man who lives in a homeless shelter.

He says he plans to give his picture to his mom as a Christmas gift.

"We don't have money to buy presents for our loved ones," he explained.

"She is going to be surprised, definitely... I love it."

The event started a year ago at a small shop in Nashville when American photographer Jeremy Cowart dreamt up a way of how his field could help spread Christmas cheer.

"This isn't about you or me, porfolios or lighting," he explains in a YouTube video.

"This is about giving pictures, not taking them."

This season, Help-Portrait has mushroomed to 55 countries, with 5,000 volunteers lending their talents to the cause.

One of 46 local photographers taking part is Kinga Dryda, who says she's inspired by the spirit of the project.

"We can give someone else a little bit of happiness, and photos last a life time," she said.

-With Files from Kevin Armstrong