5 Ways to Give Back as a Photographer

5 Ways to Give Back as a Photographer

Are you doing well in photography? Do you have a cause you believe in? Your skills and pictures can help the world more than you might have thought.

We live in an increasingly visually driven world. In a landscape inundated with information, a good picture can be the marker that draws someone’s attention. Causes and charities are often in need of such images and could use the assistance of someone with solid photographic skills and the willingness to donate their time and services. Before I go further, let me emphasize the distinction here. I’m not talking about giving away your services to companies or events that can afford them for free “exposure.” That’s an entirely different discussion. Listed below are five charities or ways you can give back using your photographic prowess.

1.) Pets up for Adoption

One Picture Saves a Life is one of my favorite causes. Animal shelters are notoriously overpopulated and underfunded. Sadly, this often translates to not being able to afford the services of a professional photographer. One Picture Saves a Life believes that through both training animal shelter staff in grooming practices and photographic technique, as well as providing volunteer photographers to shelters, the viability of pet adoption is increased. The results are nothing short of incredible.

Simply photographing a pet outside the confines of a kennel makes all the difference. Photo of Buddy by Chrissy McLaughlin.

2.) Operation: Love Reunited

Operation: Love Reunited is a charity that coordinates professional photographers with families of deployed military personnel and offers pre and mid-deployment shoots (with prints shipped directly overseas), homecoming sessions, and in the tragic event of the loss of a loved one, services that include canvases for display (if they were a previous OpLove client) or homecoming/funeral services. You can read more on the charity's website.

3.) Shoots for a Cure, Flashes of Hope, and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Shoots for a Cure and Flashes of Hope provide professional portrait sessions for cancer patients (Flashes of Hope works exclusively with children). As Flashes of Hope states: “Volunteer stylists make every child feel special before they step in front of the camera with family, friends and often, a favorite nurse. A routine day quickly turns into a celebration of the love that surrounds them.” Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep provides remembrance portraiture for parents suffering the unthinkable tragedy of the loss of a newborn. All three organizations are strongly oriented toward providing remembrance and documentation of strength for families.

4.) Documentation

Do you have a cause you believe in that doesn’t have enough exposure? Remember that people can’t care about things they’re unaware of. Get out there and document it (please do it legally and safely). Interested in environmental conservation? Find your local nature preserve and showcase its beauty. You also don’t have to seek out the action. Are you a big advocate of feminism? Feature it in a shoot. The first step to begetting change is awareness.

5.) Seek Out

Do you have a local charity or cause in mind? Call them. You would be surprised how thankful and welcoming they might be to you for offering your services.

Do you have any favorite charities, causes, or ways to give back? Share them in the comments!

Images used with permission.

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Great ideas and suggestions . I think I'll head to the local animal shelter and see if I can be of use !

Cliff Lawson's picture

I am the past president of the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep board of directors and just want to thank you for mentioning us. We have far more demand for our service than we have photographers to answer, so we appreciate being included. It the best thing I have ever done with a camera.

Ted Merklin's picture

My wife's "Mary Kay lady" recently held a charity makeover event to benefit the Mary Kay foundation. I helped out by providing the "after" photos, and it gave me practice running flattering portrait lighting across subjects of many ages on a quick timeline, as well as modeling direction.

Chris Cardoza's picture

I shoot for a nonprofit in my spare time www.Shootingtouch.com. They use basketball as a tool to educate children about health and gender equality in rural Rwanda and Boston, MA. Here's a series from Rwandahttp://www.dozavisuals.com/rwandan-basketball/

Anonymous's picture

I recently joined in with a photography group of people who have Parkinson's disease. Some of them are re discovering their love for photography and some exploring it as a creative and therapeutic outlet.I am looking forward to spending more time with them and helping with some free tuition etc.It is a challenge to do photography when you can't hold the camera steady but I am exploring that beyond the obvious use of a tripod.Thank you for posting this article. I thoroughly agree with your thoughts.

Jim Greipp's picture

I'm currently a volunteer photographer and committee member for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. There are very few wedding or portrait sessions that you could shoot that will have as big an impact on peoples lives as a NILMDTS session. These parents are suffering one of the greatest losses possible, the loss of a child - and you have been blessed with the skills to give them a little piece of their baby to hold forever and help with the healing. I will echo Cliff's concerns about not having enough photographers. Take a look at this:

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/28811014/now-i-lay-me-down-to-sleep and this:


These photos will become the most important of your career.

GODSENT OSAS's picture

All the scenery are amazing, its awesome, i have come to a world of where photographers create unimaginable scene on high thinking and belief. Thanks to fstoppers

Adam Coupe's picture

Great ideas - I've decided to give back by mentoring a photography student