Photography As A Means For Societal Betterment - Digital Photography School

Photography As A Means For Societal Betterment

I don’t admire many people and I attempt to emulate even fewer. I try to be my own self. But I do admire Colby Brown and Nancy Farese.

They both have found a way to combine two things I am passionate about; photography and philanthropy. They both took different tacks to combine these two activities and I want to highlight their efforts to the larger DPS readership as many of you may share the same philosophies and find their efforts worth backing. If doing good for your fellow humans while on this planet is not your thing, you can skip over this post.

The Giving Lens

headerimg

I first heard about Colby’s efforts via Google+ where he has a strong following. A professional photographer by trade, Colby has found ways to turn his camera into a source for doing good in this world through past endeavors such as Lepwpa Haiti. At the time, last Fall, Colby was vague about what was coming, only stating that it would be a chance for photographers to not only learn the art, but to give back to communities in the process.

A few months later, enter The Giving Lens. Colby’s approach to helping the underserved in the places he has and will visit is to partner with a local charity that is of personal interest to him and offer a photography workshop in the same location. These are areas such as Peru and Nicaragua (and more coming soon). His photo tours are not intended to give participants direct experience in shooting humanitarian situations (something Colby has done often), but instead, to give participants a chance to learn more about the overall macro environment where the aid is being delivered while teaching photography on the road.

I like this approach because it doesn’t make the tours about going and photographing people in need in far off lands the priority. The priority is on teaching photography in a more traditional sense while traveling, with the added benefit of possibly working with local Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) to help further their cause. The tours appear to be focused on the larger picture of the community in context as well, so the photography isn’t all directed to the impoverished, but will cover the beauty and color and life in various places around the globe.

To find out more about this growing opportunity, take a look at The Giving Lens’ website to see how you can make an impact.

Photo Philanthropy

PP

A few years ago, Nancy Farese started Photo Philanthropy with a simple idea; she wanted to connect non-profits, a model she strongly believes in, with photographers who could help provided a much needed means of communicating for the non-profit’s ideas, missions and accomplishments. It seemed like a natural fit to her at the time as she was often wishing to work with non-profits and used her photography skills to gain access while being of service.

Fast forward to today and Photo Philanthropy is a bustling website with dozens of fresh opportunities for a photographer to work directly with an NGO, at home and abroad, in helping bring their story to life through the use of nothing but a camera. If you have a camera and a willingness to help, Photo Philanthropy might be able to find a NGO that can use your talent. Think of the site as a clearing house for those looking for photo assistance and those looking to help.

Get started with the site’s Connections page. Here you can search for efforts you might want to help(many of the NGOs are USA based and if that is where you live, you will find opportunities close to home not requiring international travel). The array of opportunities is vast, from heath care for the underserved, to soccer programs in Africa to gardening and healthy food programs for kids. And the content is changing often as new NGOs submit their information to be included on the site. I typically check the site every six months to see what is new and where I might be of service. It doesn’t always mean something is available in my area, but, as I travel internationally, I am hopeful of a time when my photography skills can be put to use the the betterment of others.

Photo Philanthropy takes the leg work out of finding an NGO to donate your time and skills to. Take a look at their site to see how you may be of help.

What Have You Found?

These are just two of the many great operations out there trying to use photography for the betterment of our fellow human beings. Do you know of more that should be highlighted? Feel free to leave a comment if you know of a service that helps link photography with philanthropy. And if you know of an NGO that needs some photo help, hook them up with Photo Philanthropy.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like...

Peter West Carey is a world traveling photographer who now is spending a large amount of time going back through 6 years of travel photo and processing them like he should have to start with. He is also helping others learn about photography with the free series 31+ Days Of Photography Experiments which builds off of the 31+ Days To Better Photography series on his blog.

  • http://www.theoneshotproject.com Erin Wilson

    We’re having a blast with The ONE-SHOT Project. We teach photography and peacemaking skills to kids on the margins in northern Iraq. One of the best things I’ve ever been involved with!

    I posted a list on our blog of all the photography-related NGO work I could find. I’ll add these two to the list.
    http://www.theoneshotproject.com/2011/08/02/international-photography-projects-with-children/

  • http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/ Mridula

    Many thanks for sharing this. It is an inspiring read.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/7757124@N02/ Arvind D

    Thanks Peter. Lovely article… I have always wanted to see how I can contribute in some percentage, the skills I possess, towards social welfare… This has gone a long way… ALREADY! ;)

    Godspeed!

  • http://jasoncollinphotography.com Jason St. Petersburg Photographer

    Last December I participated in the national Help-Portrait event and was able to volunteer my photography skills to make portraits for families:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/2011/12/10/help-portrait-2011-st-petersburg-florida-behind-the-scenes.html

  • http://www.jenniferlycke.com Jennifer Lycke

    Thank you for this article! I’ve been interested in learning how to use my photography skills to help people, and this gives me a good start.

  • http://scottbideauphotography.com Scott Bideau

    I’ve always used photography as a way to “jump start” my contributions to community or outreach organizations. What I mean is this…when I call up an organization and say, “I’d like to volunteer as a free, professional photographer for your organization or event, taking whatever images you need for whatever medium you need, with no personal motive,” the response is usually amazing. So many photographers offer to volunteer when what they’re really doing is looking for free advertising by watermarking all their images etc.

    Think about this: if you volunteered to be a cook for your town’s pancake feed, you wouldn’t ask for your name to be imprinted on each pancake, bragging about how awesome of a pancake you made. So why do photographers want credit for their photos under the same circumstances. I love being able to give professional quality images to organizations with no strings attached – and encourage more photographers to do the same. I promise you – it’s appreciated more by the organization, and more gratifying for the photographer!

  • http://rural-india-pictures.blogspot.com Ram Bansal

    I have begun a photoblog ‘Rural India Pictures’ to highlight problems and life of people in rural India. The url of my blog is –
    http://rural-india-pictures.blogspot.com

    Kindly see and suggest improvements.

  • paolo

    take a look at Shoot4Change, a social photography network that spread worldwide in just a couple of years: http://www.shoot4change.net

  • http://www.robinhelms.com Robin

    I’ve been photographing charity events for about a year and a half. I’ve shot everything from galas to kickball games and I love it. (Check out my website under the “Events” tab.) I’ll do an event every couple months or so. You get a chance to get out, network and most importantly give back to your community. My photos have been used in websites & presentations and I’ve been asked back to do other events. It doesn’t matter if they are perfect or not, non-profits love anything the can get. If you have any interest in a charity just call or email them. I’ve also heard of people photographing pets for adoption. The opportunities are endless.

  • Allen Conway

    The title is a little gauche, a bit OTP, don’t you think? societal betterment – improving society?

    It’s a moot point whether photographs do change society… Some have a big impact, but it takes more than a bunch of aesthetically pleasing photos to change the opinions of most people making up the societies in which one would like to induce change. There is, too, something of the missionary in this, and that adds to my distrust. Of course these are not reasons not to keep on taking photos in Haiti, in India, and elsewhere – some good will always come out of such endeavour whatever I say! Sour grapes on my part? No, just my opinion.

  • http://eagleeyephotos.500px.com Scott

    Last year,I was fortunate enough to be involved in a pilot program based on Photovoice. It involved giving people with Aspergers a chance to show others an insight into their lives. I’m sure you all know someone, or know of someone that has been touched by Aspergers or any of the others on the autism spectrum. People dealing with Aspergers have a lot of difficulty expressing their ideas, thoughts and feelings – taking photos is an effective way for them to show the world what it’s like to live with Aspergers. The endgame goal of the project is to educate the wider world on the disorder, and a nifty side effect was to engage the participants.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mharrsch/ Mary Harrsch

    Before I retired I spent 20 years as an information technology director for the College of Education at the University of Oregon. As a history lover, I found it really disturbing that every time schools (and universities) had to cut their budgets it seemed like they always cut art and history classes (particularly the classics) first. I was particularly irritated since the ancient world is my favorite research period. So, having been a photojournalist years before I became a technology specialist, I decided I would travel the world photographing historical art and architecture and make the images available under a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution share alike license on Flickr.

    At present I have over 18,000 Creative Commons images on Flickr with another 60,000 or so in post-production. I take care to title and tag the images with as much information as possible to facilitate searches and encourage students, teachers, researchers, bloggers, etc. to use them for illustrations in their classroom, blogs or educational projects. I also try to include a link in the image description back to the homepage of the institution housing the original artifact as a way of encouraging others to visit and explore the collections for themselves.

    I frequently receive emails from individuals who cannot travel for either financial or physical reasons, thanking me for giving them the chance to enjoy art they never would have had the opportunity to see if it weren’t for my online image archive.

    I give presentations on heritage photography to local civic groups to recruit other photographers to join the effort. Museum photography with its low available-only light requirements without the use of tripods can be challenging and some photographers find it tedious. But I have found it well worth my time if it enables people from all over the world to enjoy our collective cultural heritage.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/thewrightimage Don Wright

    Great article. I am living in a remote part of Sumatra with my wife who works for an NGO. Since I have been here I have been taking photos of the local people, especially the kids who love to get their photos taken. I started printing and giving some photos back to the people I took. Every few weeks I go to the market and give back between 6 – 20 photos.The look on their faces is amazing when you give them a photo they never would have had. A simple thing like giving these people a photo of their kids or family makes a big difference to their lives. Here is a link to my blog http://donwrightimages.blogspot.com/2011/11/kids-of-takengon.html

  • http://www.mylifechangechurch.tv Rita Endres

    I’m the Communications Director for Life Change Church in Muskegon, Michigan. Through my love of photography, I started a photography team that volunteers to shoot events at our church to express the heart of our ministry, help people engage what God is doing and to celebrate. We are having a blast getting together monthly for photo challenges (I pick new one each month to keep them shooting), talk about upcoming events, and to discuss tricks of the trade. I have different levels of members from those who’ve taught Photoshop to teens, to point-and-shoot owners, to most with DSLRs, even some professionals. We love it!

  • http://begutierrez.com B Gutierrez

    Awesome work they’re doing! Thanks for highlighting them. I ran across Las Fotos Project last year and fell in love with it. So much there’s now a branch of it in my town! http://lasfotosproject.org/

Some older comments

  • B Gutierrez

    April 18, 2012 02:15 pm

    Awesome work they're doing! Thanks for highlighting them. I ran across Las Fotos Project last year and fell in love with it. So much there's now a branch of it in my town! http://lasfotosproject.org/

  • Rita Endres

    April 11, 2012 08:57 am

    I'm the Communications Director for Life Change Church in Muskegon, Michigan. Through my love of photography, I started a photography team that volunteers to shoot events at our church to express the heart of our ministry, help people engage what God is doing and to celebrate. We are having a blast getting together monthly for photo challenges (I pick new one each month to keep them shooting), talk about upcoming events, and to discuss tricks of the trade. I have different levels of members from those who've taught Photoshop to teens, to point-and-shoot owners, to most with DSLRs, even some professionals. We love it!

  • Don Wright

    April 10, 2012 12:18 pm

    Great article. I am living in a remote part of Sumatra with my wife who works for an NGO. Since I have been here I have been taking photos of the local people, especially the kids who love to get their photos taken. I started printing and giving some photos back to the people I took. Every few weeks I go to the market and give back between 6 - 20 photos.The look on their faces is amazing when you give them a photo they never would have had. A simple thing like giving these people a photo of their kids or family makes a big difference to their lives. Here is a link to my blog http://donwrightimages.blogspot.com/2011/11/kids-of-takengon.html

  • Mary Harrsch

    April 10, 2012 06:35 am

    Before I retired I spent 20 years as an information technology director for the College of Education at the University of Oregon. As a history lover, I found it really disturbing that every time schools (and universities) had to cut their budgets it seemed like they always cut art and history classes (particularly the classics) first. I was particularly irritated since the ancient world is my favorite research period. So, having been a photojournalist years before I became a technology specialist, I decided I would travel the world photographing historical art and architecture and make the images available under a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution share alike license on Flickr.

    At present I have over 18,000 Creative Commons images on Flickr with another 60,000 or so in post-production. I take care to title and tag the images with as much information as possible to facilitate searches and encourage students, teachers, researchers, bloggers, etc. to use them for illustrations in their classroom, blogs or educational projects. I also try to include a link in the image description back to the homepage of the institution housing the original artifact as a way of encouraging others to visit and explore the collections for themselves.

    I frequently receive emails from individuals who cannot travel for either financial or physical reasons, thanking me for giving them the chance to enjoy art they never would have had the opportunity to see if it weren't for my online image archive.

    I give presentations on heritage photography to local civic groups to recruit other photographers to join the effort. Museum photography with its low available-only light requirements without the use of tripods can be challenging and some photographers find it tedious. But I have found it well worth my time if it enables people from all over the world to enjoy our collective cultural heritage.

  • Scott

    April 8, 2012 10:16 pm

    Last year,I was fortunate enough to be involved in a pilot program based on Photovoice. It involved giving people with Aspergers a chance to show others an insight into their lives. I'm sure you all know someone, or know of someone that has been touched by Aspergers or any of the others on the autism spectrum. People dealing with Aspergers have a lot of difficulty expressing their ideas, thoughts and feelings - taking photos is an effective way for them to show the world what it's like to live with Aspergers. The endgame goal of the project is to educate the wider world on the disorder, and a nifty side effect was to engage the participants.

  • Allen Conway

    April 7, 2012 06:41 pm

    The title is a little gauche, a bit OTP, don't you think? societal betterment - improving society?

    It's a moot point whether photographs do change society... Some have a big impact, but it takes more than a bunch of aesthetically pleasing photos to change the opinions of most people making up the societies in which one would like to induce change. There is, too, something of the missionary in this, and that adds to my distrust. Of course these are not reasons not to keep on taking photos in Haiti, in India, and elsewhere - some good will always come out of such endeavour whatever I say! Sour grapes on my part? No, just my opinion.

  • Robin

    April 6, 2012 11:59 am

    I've been photographing charity events for about a year and a half. I've shot everything from galas to kickball games and I love it. (Check out my website under the "Events" tab.) I'll do an event every couple months or so. You get a chance to get out, network and most importantly give back to your community. My photos have been used in websites & presentations and I've been asked back to do other events. It doesn't matter if they are perfect or not, non-profits love anything the can get. If you have any interest in a charity just call or email them. I've also heard of people photographing pets for adoption. The opportunities are endless.

  • paolo

    April 6, 2012 08:42 am

    take a look at Shoot4Change, a social photography network that spread worldwide in just a couple of years: www.shoot4change.net

  • Ram Bansal

    April 6, 2012 05:25 am

    I have begun a photoblog 'Rural India Pictures' to highlight problems and life of people in rural India. The url of my blog is -
    http://rural-india-pictures.blogspot.com

    Kindly see and suggest improvements.

  • Scott Bideau

    April 6, 2012 05:12 am

    I've always used photography as a way to "jump start" my contributions to community or outreach organizations. What I mean is this...when I call up an organization and say, "I'd like to volunteer as a free, professional photographer for your organization or event, taking whatever images you need for whatever medium you need, with no personal motive," the response is usually amazing. So many photographers offer to volunteer when what they're really doing is looking for free advertising by watermarking all their images etc.

    Think about this: if you volunteered to be a cook for your town's pancake feed, you wouldn't ask for your name to be imprinted on each pancake, bragging about how awesome of a pancake you made. So why do photographers want credit for their photos under the same circumstances. I love being able to give professional quality images to organizations with no strings attached - and encourage more photographers to do the same. I promise you - it's appreciated more by the organization, and more gratifying for the photographer!

  • Jennifer Lycke

    April 6, 2012 02:26 am

    Thank you for this article! I've been interested in learning how to use my photography skills to help people, and this gives me a good start.

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer

    April 5, 2012 03:55 am

    Last December I participated in the national Help-Portrait event and was able to volunteer my photography skills to make portraits for families:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/2011/12/10/help-portrait-2011-st-petersburg-florida-behind-the-scenes.html

  • Arvind D

    April 4, 2012 07:01 pm

    Thanks Peter. Lovely article... I have always wanted to see how I can contribute in some percentage, the skills I possess, towards social welfare... This has gone a long way... ALREADY! ;)

    Godspeed!

  • Mridula

    April 4, 2012 02:44 pm

    Many thanks for sharing this. It is an inspiring read.

  • Erin Wilson

    April 4, 2012 11:21 am

    We're having a blast with The ONE-SHOT Project. We teach photography and peacemaking skills to kids on the margins in northern Iraq. One of the best things I've ever been involved with!

    I posted a list on our blog of all the photography-related NGO work I could find. I'll add these two to the list.
    http://www.theoneshotproject.com/2011/08/02/international-photography-projects-with-children/

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed