I don’t know about you, but there are times when I feel like I’m doing this photography thing for nothing and am not giving back in any way.
Not financially nothing, but I mean, what’s the point of it? For what purpose? Where is the meaning in what I do? Yes I enjoy it, yes it can be therapeutic and it does my soul good. Beyond that, what am I doing with it? Am I doing something for humanity, something for charity, something for good?
I see others out there with these amazing philanthropic projects and wonder why I don’t do anything like that. Sure, I’ve donated my services and my share of donating prints for charity events, auctions and fundraisers, but is that enough?
These thoughts brought about a search to see what was out there and in what ways photographers can give back.
Giving back opportunities
Here is a list of several foundations and organizations where photographers can use their skills, donate their work and time to help others.
Operation Love Reunited: OpLove provides military deployment and homecoming photography services. They are a nonprofit organization that provides free photo sessions to military families worldwide. You do have to apply and there is a small fee to be included on their list of photographers’ map. They handle all printing and shipping to your clients.
Heart Gallery of America: Across the United States, photographers create portraits of children in need of adoptive homes. This is a small portion of what Heart Gallery of America does to help children find families.
Flashes of Hope: This organization raises funds to accelerate a cure for children’s cancer. They do this by offering free photo packages to children and their families at hospitals and camps across the United States. Every year they provide free portrait packages to 5,000 children in 55 cities across the country. You do have to apply to be a photographer.
100 Cameras: They are a nonprofit organization that works with kids around the world who live in challenging circumstances. They teach them how to process and tell their stories through photography. They offer sales of prints and 100% of the proceeds are used to fund the needs of their communities so they can see the impact they can make. To find out about volunteer opportunities you have to sign-up for their volunteer newsletter.
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep: Their mission is to offer every family experiencing the death of a baby the healing power of remembrance. Free professional portraiture is offered to parents suffering this loss. They recruit and train photographers around the world. There is a submission process and application.
The Gold Hope Project: The Gold Hope Project raises awareness of childhood cancer through photography. Photographer volunteers offer free portrait sessions for these families. There are specific criteria that have to be met before you can apply.
Lensational: They empower underrepresented women to share their stories through media training. They help to elevate these women’s voices and promote their work. Ways to contribute through this program are to be a mentor or donate cameras.
Spectrum Inspired: Through photography, they are raising awareness for autism. Volunteer photographers offer lifestyle and documentary photography to capture the lives of these individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. You can apply on their website if you meet their requirements.
Healing Photo Art: Healing Photo Art works with hospitals around the world to place large, framed photographs of nature and beautiful places from around the world. You can become part of their contributing photographer program by submitting a selection of your images for review and acceptance.
Other ways to help
These are just a sampling of what I came across when researching how to give back with your photography. Of course, there are others that many of you have already heard of. I chose to find options that were lesser-known.
There are many ways beyond these types of places as well. Offer to take pet portraits at a local animal shelter. Check your local area organizations, schools, health care facilities and governments to see what other opportunities might be nearby.
What do you do to give back? I know that sharing our images is one way of putting beauty out there in the world that may help others in some small way.