Tag Archives: volunteer

Photos for Good: Part 1

2 Sep

The first time I watched Born Into Brothels, I had the immediate urge to pack my bags, jump on a plane, and help out in some faraway place. (I’m pretty sure many other photographers out there did too.) The reality, though, is you don’t have to fly around the world to make a difference.

There’s been a lot of buzz and recent Photo Betties posts about photography-marrying-philanthrophy, so we decided to dedicate this one to getting involved with current charity organizations. We’ll be following up with Part 2 which will cover locating existing opportunities, as well as tips on finding and creating your own projects.

Volunteer Photography Organizations

Started by Kristin Weaver, an internationally published fashion and wedding photographer, Images for a Cure is an annual event held each fall (usually October, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month) promoting The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, their beneficiary charity. Photographer registration is from August to September – and each participating photographer is encouraged to set their own session dates, plans and pricing – and donate 100% of their session fees to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, via their FirstGiving page.


Wish Upon a Wedding, which we posted about in April, is the world’s first non-profit wish granting organization that provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life-altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation. They work with all types of wedding vendors in addition to photographers, including planners, venues, caterers, rental companies, videographers, bakers, officiants, florists, stationary designers, DJs/bands/musicians, salons, transportation companies, and more. With 18 chapters around the country (and 10 more coming soon), you can help out in many ways – volunteering your skills, financial donations, hosting a fundraiser and more!

Operation Love Reunited, or as many call them “OpLove”, is a non-profit organization that assigns photographers to families with loved ones getting ready to deploy, are currently deployed, or are coming home. The participating family chooses a photographer and up to two sessions per year. The photographer volunteers their services for the session(s), a 4×6 album for the service member, and a CD of images from the homecoming. If you’d like to volunteer check out the blog which is filled with information and inspiring photography from OpLove sessions.


Flashes of Hope is a national, nonprofit organization that “changes the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography.” They transform hospital playrooms, waiting areas and even hallways into studios, and photograph children solo, then with their family and loved ones. Photos are delivered as enlargements, prints and on disc, all free of charge. “It’s an indescribable treasure that forever preserves the grace, dignity and beauty of each child.” To maintain the highest ethical and professional standards in the industry, they work primarily with published and commercial photographers, as well as members of The American Society of Media Photographers. If you fit the bill, you can apply as a photographer or, if you want to help in other ways, you can still be part of this amazing organization as a general volunteer, or with a donation.

PhotoPhilanthropy helps to connect, shed light on and reward connections between photographers and non-profit organizations around the world to tell stories that drive action for social change.” Great photography helps inform, educate and inspire volunteers to act, donors and grant-makers to give, people to push for new policies, and to give those who are not heard, or seen, a voice. In addition to helping facilitate Volunteer Connections, they also give annual Activist Awards for winning photo essays, Student Production Grants (which include financial, promotional and supportive assistance), promote Artist Residencies and Workshops, and have a great blog which they update often with inspiring imagery and stories from around the world. It’s no wonder their goal is to “Change the world, one photo at a time!”

Credit: PhotoPhilanthropy 2010 Grand Prize Winner - Josh Meltzer

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) volunteers offer “gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner” to families who have suffered the loss of an infant. “The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives.” They are always looking to recruit volunteers for their database to be on call to offer Remembrance Photography Services to be on call when needed, as these sessions are sudden and require quick response. If you’re interested you can sign up to volunteer as a photographer, assistant photographer or digital retouch artist – as well as read volunteer articles for background and advice.

Founded by Celebrity Photographer, Jeremy Cowart, Help Portrait is a grassroots movement of photographers giving their time, gear and expertise to offer portraits to those in need. The idea is simple, powerful and global.

Each December, this year on 12/10/11, photographers will sign-up online, create or join teams, and offer portraits to those who wouldn’t normally have access to, or be able to afford, professional photography. People like the homeless, orphans, single-parent families, people of ill health, the elderly, veterans and more. It’s the chance to not just take a photo, but give a photo.

Tiny Sparrow is a non-profit organization who helps provide photography to families with children who are facing life threatening illnesses. Their volunteer photographers provide a session as well as a beautiful album to “carry the love, joy and everlasting memory of each individual family.” Currently located in Texas, but with a goal of expanding in 2011, Tiny Sparrow also accepts donations through PayPal.

Images of Hope is a non-profit organization that brings awareness to childhood cancers and illnesses by offering free portrait sessions to children and families dealing with cancer. Their purpose it two fold. First, to capture timeless moments that will last a lifetime for the families, and second, to spread awareness. Founder, Jessica Oatman, whose son, Montana, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age two, looks at photography as “a great outlet and a wonderful way to document his journey.” Looking back through the photographs has helped them “realize what we have really been through.”

With an artist list of that spans continents, Heart Speaks photographers worldwide are committed to stopping the unnecessary euthanization of adoptable animals. Their goal is to increase the numbers of adopted animals in shelters by just 3%, and give rescue animals safe, loving homes. The power of a image can speak volumes, so Heart Speaks connects artists with shelters and animal relief organizations to effect social change and better the lives of humans and people alike.

Pictures of Hope is a charitable organization of professional photographers who provide complimentary, documentary-style, photography sessions to babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and their families.  Members are professional, established photographers (many of whom are “NICU mothers” themselves) who hail from across the United States and Canada and are dedicated to donating their time to a cause they believe in, and sharing the gift of photography with families in need.

It’s also important to note that bereavement photography is not their focus. While photographers may be asked to photograph a bereavement session, services are generally geared to babies in the NICU at any point during their stay (not just those terminally ill) which could mean a 27 week preemie or a NICU graduate about to go home. There are specific requirements for membership which are listed here.

Started in 2008 by Felicia Reinhard, Inspiration Through Art (formerly called The Littlest Heroes Project) is made up of professional photographers, artists, children and other volunteers across the world who provide a variety of programs and services to children who are fighting serious illnesses and/or life-altering disabilities. Sessions can be home-based, at benefits and fundraisers, or hospitals or clinic visits, and are specially catered to each little hero. Services include photography, but they also also offer special programs and fun art-related sessions as well. They also have a comprehensive list of partners, other organizations who need volunteers and worthwhile vendors.

The Tiny Light is a Canadian-based, female-run organization that connects member photographers with children and families that have been faced with a life altering diagnoses. Applicants must be professional photographers with a client base as well as a online portfolio, willing to donate their time and talent as well as a disk of ALL high resolution images from the session. Families who are accepted receive these portrait sessions free of charge. Their current list of photographers includes only Canadian-based photographers – but the application does not say whether or not that is a prerequisite for membership. If you’re passionate about joining the cause – get in touch!

Dog Meets World, at first mention, sounds like an animal-based charity, right? In fact, the “Dog” is a sweet stuffed puppy who helps their photographers to spread joy and smiles. Their mission is to give children and families in developing countries personal photographs, often for the first time. DMW seeks to change the way people travel by creating positive cross-cultural interactions and rather than simply taking pictures, to give them as well. Travelers bring along a digital camera, a portable printer and the stuffed Foto mascot dog to photograph children and practice Take & Give Photography! DMW believes with simply sharing a photo, photographers can practice ground-level diplomacy and voluntourism for all travelers.

Celebrating Adoption was officially started by Jenifer Samaha in 2007, and is a national organization of photographers who donate their time to document and celebrate the love and bond of adoption. Volunteers give these sessions at no cost, and families who participate must have gone through the adoption in the past twelve months. Their member list is quite extensive… although we did learn that unfortunately, due to personal issues, they are not able to accept any additional photographers at this time. We still chose to include Celebrating Adoption in our list, however, in case you may know of families who can benefit from their services, or if it inspires you to start a similar endeavor yourself!

We’d like to give a big shout out to Shutter Mission, who we found midway through our research for this post, and helped add a few additional resources to the list. Bookmark their site – it’s filled with photo-related charity organizations as well as stories and spotlights on photographers who serve them. You can also nominate a photographer who gives back that you’d like to see featured, and there’s an extensive list of complimentary resources for photographers who donate their time and services to charity. Simple, straight-forward, informative and inspiring!

If you’ve found this post useful, have something to add or want to share it with your friends, family or fellow photos – please post, tweet, comment, share – and help us motivate others to make a difference, one shutter click at a time!

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Scatter Joy! One Photographer’s Journey of Giving Back and Discovering True Happiness

1 Jul

By: Amber Shader

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of
achievement, in the thrill of creative effort” – Franklin D Roosevelt

I held my first “real” camera in the eighth grade. It was a Nikon F2 that I used while taking a summer photography class with a grade school friend at a local community center. Photography quickly became my new passion. Every weekend I looked forward to going to the community center to learn new things. Our teacher was super cool too. He rode a motorcycle, played guitar and looked just like Jerry Garcia. Every weekend, he taught us new things like how to shoot manually, how to develop film and how to do cool things with negative transfers using anything we could find like lace, bows, and big 80‘s hooped earrings.

Once the class was over at the end of summer, my parents got me my very own camera, but it was the type you had to put flash cubes on top of. I couldn’t change lenses, I couldn’t shoot manually or develop my own film anymore, so needless to say, photography didn’t stay a strong passion for me with my little flashcube Kodak camera. I didn’t start shooting again until my freshman year in college. I saved up and bought the cheapest Pentax film SLR I could find and took as many photography electives I could squeeze in while getting my degree in Business Administration and Human Resource Management.

Getting back into photography during college was fun, but I never thought I could make a living as an artist. I think the character Charlotte from the movie Lost in Translation summed up the extent of my college photography experience when she said, “I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. I guess every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, horses…taking dumb pictures of your feet.” Before I knew it, I was working full time, dating my soon-to-be husband and completing my MBA in Organizational Leadership on nights and weekends. I stopped shooting completely and spent 13 years working in Corporate America, climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder. I was a Vice President of Human Resources for a Fortune 100 company, I had a great husband, a great home and plenty of disposable income to buy all the clothes, handbags and jewelry I wanted, but what I did not know at the time was that I didn’t have true happiness and was merely surrounding myself with material things things that did not matter.

It wasn’t until 2010 when a sudden car accident of one of my colleagues at work put everything into perspective. She literally drove across the street from our building to grab a coffee and another vehicle ran a red light and broadsided her. She died instantly. It wasn’t her actual death that was the lightbulb moment for me. My lightbulb moment was during her actual eulogy when people said how much she gave to the company. It was truly then that I realized I wanted to reinvent myself so I could do something I loved with my life vs. being a corporate title on an org chart.

After the funeral, I started to slow down and enjoy the little things in life more like spending time with family and friends, traveling, reading etc vs. working 60 hour work weeks. I also stumbled across an Emerson quote to “Scatter Joy!” and it became my new mantra. To me it meant and still means keeping it simple, traveling the world, finding beauty in all things, caring deeply about people and leaving the world a better place. Around the same time I stumbled across the quote, my wonderful husband encouraged me to start shooting again and he bought me a new Nikon D40 for my birthday that year. I started to get the passion back and I knew photography was what I wanted to do with my life.

I started shooting as a part time photographer on weekends and I slowly built up a client base. I also created my business model around my mantra “Scatter Joy!” and included a minimum of 12 silent auctions or charitable events a year. I started to discover the true power of photography, not just through the images I was creating but through the fact that I could give my time, talent and heart to make the world a little better. I know it sounds cliché but through giving back to the local community I discovered my true happiness. Charitable giving as a photographer also has another upside and if you have ever had the opportunity to listen to Sarah Petty or read her Joy of Marketing blog, then you know that charitable giving is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to grow your business by creating buzz. I am living proof of that too because I was able to make the leap from part time weekend photographer to full time professional photographer largely because of my mantra to Scatter Joy!

So how can this mantra work for you and your business? Here is some advice (in no particular order) that worked for me:

• Decide what you can afford to give in terms of your time, resources, services, products etc. and build that into your business plan. Giving away your time and talent is still an important business decision to consider in terms of cost vs. benefit. I personally landed on a minimum of 12 events/auctions a year, but that may not work for everyone.

• Decide your philanthropic priorities. Are you passionate about charities for animals, the arts, children, the environment? My personal decision was to focus on philanthropic efforts for children and animals since I am passionate about both and love shooting both in my sessions.

• Decide if you want to work with designated national portrait charities supported by PPA or WPPI like Operation Smile, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Tiny Sparrow Foundation, etc. or create your own events and work with local groups. You can also do a hybrid of both. I personally decided to work with existing groups including The Moyer Foundation and The Real Charitable Housewives of Delaware.

• Maximize social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and blogs to highlight your charitable giving. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself and the good works you are doing. I actually had The Moyer Foundation find me via my tweets about another charitable giving event I worked on for the American Red Cross. If you don’t post it, write about it or share your beautiful images, you are not maximizing the great PR opportunity.

• I’m not promising you will be able to quit your full-time day job as soon as you start taking my advice and adding charitable events to your business model. However, what I can promise you is that you will feel more fulfilled and happy and your business will grow.

One of my most recent events was the Real Charitable Housewives of Delaware’s “Help Japan Bloom Again” event, benefiting the American Red Cross and The Moyer Foundation’s “Evening at the Ballpark” (which in turn, benefits Camp Erin and The Moyer Foundation).

We were able to raise almost $4,000 for the American Red Cross and $100,000 for Camp Erin/The Moyer Foundation! I was so proud and happy to have Amber Shader Photography contribute and be part of both of these special events.

Longer term, even though I don’t ride a motorcycle, play guitar or look like Jerry Garcia, I would love to start teaching photography classes to kids at the same local community center where my love for photography started. Hopefully I can help Scatter Joy! and share my passion for photography with the next generation of future photographers!

Photographer Needed for Charity Event

20 Apr

A volunteer photographer is needed on Saturday, May 7th, for the Philadelphia First Annual 5K for Fibromyalgia. Organizers are looking for a few hours coverage during the event. If you’re interested, contact isabel@isabelmarchphotography.com for details!

Wish Upon A Wedding

14 Apr

By: Brittany Ostrov

Calling all Wish Granters!

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the middle of April and that I attended The Wish Upon A Wedding (WUW) Philadelphia Chapter launch Party months ago! The Launch Party was a fantastic event hosted at the Top of the Tower on January 31st, 2011 that both gave everyone a brief overview of WUW and showcased some of the wonderful vendors already committed to the organization. WUW Philadelphia was completely overwhelmed with the show of support from the Philadelphia Event Industry, selling out with over 200 tickets sold in just 6 days through Facebook alone! Lucky for me, one of my partners in crime, Meredith Miller (Designer at CloudFish Studios), had informed me of the event so we were able to snag our tickets right away!

Wish Upon a Wedding is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides weddings and vow renewals to couples facing terminal illness or other serious life-altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation. Often, couples facing such situations do not have the energy, time, money, or resources needed to plan their wedding. This wonderful organization takes care of all the details, offering couples a chance to relax and enjoy a very special and intimate day while surrounded by the love of their closest family and friends.

Wish Upon a Wedding President, Mark Kingsdorf

There are so many ways to help this organization by donating, fund raising, volunteering and more. What became the most significant way for me to help was to become a Wish Granter. Wish Upon a Wedding relies on the generosity of professionals from the wedding and hospitality industries to provide goods and services for those in need, or the Wish Recipients. The organization is able to call on their large database of regional Wish Granters to make these weddings happen. From caterers, photographers and designers to DJs, bakers, and venues, WUW has the contacts to make a wedding happen almost anywhere in the United States!

Becoming a wish granter is a great way to both share your trade and give back to those in need, and they still really need your help. I know in the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life we sometimes get too caught up in work and not enough on the outside world, but there are plenty of people out there that really need our help. We each have something special within us successful at what we do, and to share that gift with someone that honestly deserves it is one of the most rewarding things we can do.

So, if you would like to become a Wish Granter (and live in the Philadelphia area!), all you need to do is fill out this form. WUW also has chapters all over the United States, so check this list to see if there’s a chapter closer to you. Or to learn more, visit the website to find out more information about this great organization!

Do you know of other organizations or volunteer programs that work with photographers? Would like to write a post to share them with the Photo Betties? Give us a shout! Email heather@ or jenna@phillyphotobetties.com and send us details. We’d love to hear from you!

Betties Giving Back: Sarah Schulte Photography

26 Jan

Sarah Schulte welcomed a new addition to the family 2 months ago, which led to some serious brainstorming and the exciting announcement of a new charity project. It features painted baby bellies, which will be assembled into the 2012 Baby Belly Calendar – and possibly a print collection – with profits going to the Philadelphia Branch of the Little Smiles Organization.

Moms-to-be who will be 7-9 months pregnant sometime over the next 6 months can volunteer, and will receive a mini-maternity session prior to their belly painting in exchange for their time and support. Find out more on the blog!