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If you are looking for a way to do good with your camera but you are not sure how, this post will help you with a few ideas to get started.
Where to Start
A good place to begin your journey of paying it forward with your camera is at PhotoPhilanthropy. This is an organisation devoted to social change that uses the Internet as platform. Their website is aimed at connecting non-profit organisations with photographers to produce visual stories of less fortunate people and societies by using their cameras.
The aim of the organisation is to creatively action social change in this way. It is also a great place to meet like-minded people with similar objectives and hosts a philanthropy focused photography competition. Besides the opportunity to win the competition and to make useful connections, the site is community driven and friendly. It is an ideal location for photographers to get advice about photography at various levels of expertise through the site’s photographer’s toolkit and as a source for funding opportunities.
Other Altruistic Organisations
Apart from Photophilanthropy, there are other organisations devoted to helping charities through photography. Help-Portrait is an initiative that promotes getting groups together to take photographs, print and deliver them to less fortunate individuals and families. A well-executed portrait is a personal and touching gift and usually has a deep impact on the person presented with the photographs.
Anybody can get involved and either join or start a group in their local area. The Help-Portrait website has a community area where locations can be checked and groups are featured. Members sign up for free and can join groups to start contributing. The site also has a shop and a donations page making it possible for everybody to get involved.
Photographers Without Borders is an Australian group of philanthropic photographers that sell photographs and donate the profits to educational causes across the world. The aim of the organisation is for the proceeds of each sale to go directly to the people of the country the photograph was taken in.
The intrepid team plans to open retail galleries across the world, sell photo products, and create a network of photographers and to support education in countries worldwide. Although it is not possible to contribute as yet, Photographers Without Borders plan to open submissions in the near future and it may be worthwhile to bookmark the organisation’s website.
Philanthropic Photographers: Scott Mead and Sergio Burani
Another option open to all photographers, is to sell their images and donate the profits to charity. Unless you prefer to do this on a larger scale, like Photographers Without Borders, there is nothing stopping any photographer from creating their own micro-charity from the comforts of their home.
Experienced photographers like Scott Mead and Sergio Burani do exactly that. They use their talents behind the camera lens for charitable causes by selling their fine art photographs in galleries and on auctions. Scott Mead donates all the proceeds from his exhibitions to charitable causes like sponsoring a new gene and cell therapy laboratory at a London hospital. Another philanthropist is the travel photographer Sergio Burani.
Burani devotes his art and life to taking photographs to help a charity called Africa Surgery, a charitable organisation based in the United States that provides healthcare to those in need in Sierra Leone. He creates and sells fine art greeting cards and fine art prints and also does commercial and editorial photography.
Don’t Stop There
Although you may find that there are not enough opportunities through organisations to keep you busy or you may not have the entrepreneurial skills to start a micro-charity from home, there are other options. You can offer your services to organisations in your local area. Local charity events, animal shelters, old age homes and children’s homes usually welcome volunteer photographers with open arms.
Charity events have a better chance at getting funding through media exposure when armed with a decent set of photographs capturing an event. Animal shelters always need photographs of animals that are lost or looking for new homes.
Even though old age homes and children’s homes are also often reliant on funding gained through media exposure, there is yet another way in which signing up to take photos in these places can be useful. The attention and simple human interaction through having somebody take their pictures can be a gift in itself to senior citizens or children without a stable family structure in place.
It Starts in the Heart
With a camera, a bit of creative flair and your heart in a right place, so much can be achieved. It doesn’t matter if you are an amateur or a professional, you can make a positive difference in your community, while getting experience and building your portfolio at the same time.