Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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As hobbyist & professional photographers, what opportunities are available if we wanted to volunteer our services to a charitable organisations?

Any ideas? What sorts of organisations might be looking for volunteers to provide photographic services?

I would love to hear details from anyone with experience doing something like this.

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Found a link in meta to a question about this -- meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1016/… –  MikeW Apr 9 '13 at 6:28
    
Found a question on meta that has a few suggestions: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1016/… –  MikeW Apr 14 '13 at 2:59

8 Answers 8

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I occasionally volunteer my photography at historical societies. I have a keen interest in photographing old and disused structures and historical sites, so if I can get access for free then I'll subsequently give the photos to the group as well. Sometimes they will show you around the sites ask you to photograph important objects. This process basically serves as free documentation for them and you get to enjoy a day in some interesting place.

I haven't heard of places like the SPCA or RedCross or something needing photographers specifically, but i'm sure if you were to offer your services they might come in handy some time.

Hope that helps,

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you could join us if you like. We make photobooks and sell them with a little profit which gets donated 100% to charity organisations we choose. We are a group of over 1000 photographers from 87 countries in the world, who have joined creative forces at http://www.kujaja.com

We have build water pumps in Bangladesh, support an orphan home in Calcutta India, and one in Capetown South Africa and are now helping children who live in a refugee camp in Burma.

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You can take a travel-photography workshop with The Giving Lens! They partner with non profits in countries around the world and the trip is split 50% volunteering photography skills to the NGO, and about 50% workshops. All teams run by pro photogs. Profits are split with the NGO post-trip, plus media is donated. It's incredible!

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Thanks, that looks worth looking into. –  MikeW Apr 12 '13 at 20:38

Social awareness, environmental advocacy, scientific researches, historical researches and photojournalism with significant event or news associated (e.g. typhoon, war) are some opportunities that a photographer can offer service. Let say for example, a non-profit organization is advocating education for out of school youth, or conservation of a national park or particular species, with the help of good photographs, (photographs that tell stories) and good presentation of research, both are essential to reach out the target audience. A photographer in this scenario should not limit himself/herself into just taking pictures, but he/she also engages himself/herself in research about what the non-profit organization is advocating for him/her to better deliver the subject.

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As a volunteer and a co-founder of an animal rescue team, I've done a lot of photography of cats and dogs that were in shelters we ran. Some of these photos were later put to good use in finding suitable permanent homes for our sheltered animals, and the initial impression would-be adopters get from such photography makes for a huge difference. Sometimes, I was also asked to prepare other promotional materials, such as posters or website graphics, using photos I took.

As this photography work takes a lot of time and patience, both shooting as well as later editing for various promotional materials, having a dedicated photographer-volunteer would mean a world to us, both other volunteers going about all kinds of time-consuming chores, as well as the animals in need of a new home. It really made a huge difference, and we had positive response from all over the world, later successfully finding homes for hundreds of stray cats and dogs from Romania (I was working there as an expat) throughout Europe.

just a few example photos that made a difference

Just a collage of a few photos that made a difference. Obviously, I'm not a professional photographer, but I do try my best.

If you love animals and have the patience to wait endlessly for that perfect photo moment while in the company of other think-alike volunteers, then I think your efforts would be greatly appreciated in such teams and/or organisations. But there's also a need for less than perfect photography. Some sheltered animals would already have found a suitable new home, but were awaiting transportation. In the mean time, of course, adopters need to be updated on the status of their new pet. The list of how you could be useful is really endless. Of course, you could benefit to such charitable societies a lot more, if you could combine your photography skills with some other as well, say organizational skills - e.g. organizing photographic exhibitions, protest (organized, with good intentions) even, or - God forbid - even guerilla photography of discovered animal abuse that needs to be documented and reported on. But even without other skills, if you didn't live half way around the world away from Europe, I'd be asking you for your details by now, begging you to join us. ;)

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1  
Thanks, these are the kinds of things I was hoping to hear about. The local SPCA already has great photography, even puts out a calendar, but I'll keep looking. –  MikeW Apr 5 '13 at 3:07
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@MikeW - I would still ask with your local SPCA regardless. The cause itself makes it a non-competitive but hard-working environment, and the photographer(s) they have might be involved with other activities, or would like to share experience with others, too. And they would all have day-time jobs, and would at least welcome a temp to help them sail through those really busy days. Should be a nice company of people (and animals of course) to hang around, too. There will be bad days, but the good ones will make up for those ten-fold IMHO. –  TildalWave Apr 5 '13 at 11:43

Ask at your local convention centers what non-profits have regular events. Then contact those organizations you are interested in to see if they would like you taking photos. I've been doing conference work with a couple local charities for close to 16 years now and it's always a lot of fun.

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The most common way to help non-profit charity organizations are charity exhibitions. Exhibitions can be solo or multi-contributed exhibitons that can include photos according to a concept or mostly photos about or of the organization, like if it's a retirement village, portraits of the residents of that village or if it is an orphanage, portraits of the oprhans. By the way if you have contacts with celebrities, most of them always helps by letting you take their portrait for those exhibitions and it's better since them & their entourage supports those events for publicity.

Another way is to helping them out by taking the photos they need to promote themselves, for brochures,campaigns or event photos.

Also another way I tried is, I have given free photography classes to an orphanage and the children were really happy about it. I found a rental store to provide support for the slrs and a photo studio to support for processing and printing. We had made an exhibition of the photos they took which were fantastic for them.

Let me think more ways and I'll edit this later if I can recall more.

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We have individual volunteer registration in Hong Kong and you can specify the skill you would like to provide. However, you should have chance to participate photographing events by joining any volunteer service and you are active enough.

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