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Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and if you have talents that are in high demand then your efforts will be extremely well received. Photography is one of the most diverse and sought after skills in the modern world and so if you have experience and knowledge you can really help people, organizations and charities in a variety of ways.
How Can Photographers Give Back through Volunteering?
Volunteering your time, knowledge and skills can make a huge difference to the lives of people around you. You might be asking yourself how you can volunteer and what type of things you can do as a photographer but there’s a whole myriad of ways to volunteer so there is bound to be something to suit you!
Why Do Photographers Volunteer?
There are two main reasons why you might consider volunteering as a photographer.
- The first reason is that you may want to increase your experience and learn new things. This is a common way for beginner photographers to get their foot in the door and network with other professional photographers who are already in the industry.
- The other reason that you might start volunteering as a photographer is to give back to your community and share your skills to improve the lives of others.
What are the Pros and Cons of Photography Volunteering?
- Volunteering is an altruistic and rewarding thing to do.
- You can learn a great deal by getting out there and helping your community.
- Volunteer work improves your resume.
- You will meet new people and make friends for life.
- Improves your understanding of the world and the struggles other people face.
- Volunteering can often lead to paid work in the future.
- Learn new photography skills by working in new situations.
- Volunteering can be hard work and time consuming.
- You may face situations that are emotionally challenging or difficult.
- Volunteering abroad can sometimes be quite expensive.
How You Can Volunteer As a Photographer and Give Back To Others.
There are many ways to volunteer. A few ideas below:
Startups and New Businesses.
If you want to help out a fledgling business with some free photography while expanding your portfolio at the same time there are plenty of opportunities available. All types of businesses and startups would love to have some professionally shot photos to help promote their products, services or venue.
Any new business is likely to have a pretty slim budget to spend on marketing and branding and so if you want to step in and offer some free photography work they will jump at the opportunity! As well as providing a great volunteer service to help boost the local economy in your community your name will also get out there to other businesses.
So what kind of startups or local businesses might appreciate you volunteering some free photography? Everyone from new restaurants and cafes to a local hairdresser would be grateful to be assisted by a volunteer photographer.
Local Community Events and Organizations.
Throughout the year there are regular events, large and small, that take place in parks, town halls and local museums. These can range from holiday celebrations to farmers’ markets, musical performances to art exhibitions.
In most cases your local community organizations do not have large budgets to advertise their events which means that if you can step in and provide some professional level photoshoots you can really add to the stature and success of their events. Working in these interesting new environments and situations is a fun way to meet new people while expanding your personal experience.
Some of the community organizations that you can volunteer to help include, but are not limited to:
- Local Parks.
- Public Art Galleries.
- Non-profit Organizations.
- Farmers’ Markets.
- Community Events.
- Holiday Celebrations including Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Military Veterans and their Families.
Members of your community or city who have served their country in the military and armed forces have put themselves in great personal risk to help others, often serving in remote and dangerous parts of the world. When they return home after active service they often face new sets of struggles.
As a photographer, you can offer to provide portrait services for Veterans and their families. You can contact your local Veteran Affairs office to find out about ways you can do this in your local community. Alternatively, if you know some veterans you can simply offer your services in person! Veterans clubs may also appreciate some professional portraits and group photo shoots!
Veterans and their families deserve the help and support of their communities and you can play your part by volunteering your photography services.
Animal Rescue Centers and Shelters.
If you love animals or would like to help out with the people who dedicate their time to rescuing animals in need and finding them new loving homes then you can always volunteer with a local animal shelter. Most of these shelters and rescue centers are charities or non profits and depend on public donations to provide their invaluable services to improve the welfare of animals all over the country.
Animal shelters use portraits of the animals in their care to help find them new homes by posting the pictures online. Shelter and rescue centers also need high quality photography for their brochures, public outreach and marketing campaigns which allows them to raise the money they require to keep their doors open! You can volunteer to work with these organizations in many different ways, all of which will be greatly appreciated not only by the staff but the animals too!
Elderly Charities and Services.
We all get old one day and volunteering your photographic skills to take portraits and family shots of the elderly in your community is one of the most rewarding ways that you can give back. You will massively improve their day with a fun photoshoot and help them to save priceless family memories. You’re also bound to meet some fascinating people and hear some remarkable stories about events in the past.
As well as elderly services you can volunteer at nursing centers and assisted living facilities.
The type of services that you can offer include:
- Personal portraits and family portraits.
- Photograph events and special day trips.
- Photograph interactions with animal service visits to the elderly centers.
Photography Volunteering Overseas.
It’s not only in a local context that you can find volunteering opportunities because there are plenty of ways you can work overseas too! So if you love to travel, or would like to see some interesting new parts of the world, there are volunteering programs you can get involved with overseas.
One of the advantages of working with an international volunteering organization is that they will usually arrange all of your accommodation and food for you so you’ll be safe and well looked after while you are away from home. There are many organizations that can help you to arrange overseas volunteering work which allow you to make an amazing difference in the lives of people in need while experiencing new cultures and places.
To find overseas volunteering organizations you can use the internet to research opportunities near you or else ask at your local municipality. International volunteering organizations need photographers to help them create informational public relations and awareness materials as well as adverts, marketing and educational content to promote their services.
Provide Free Courses and Tuition.
If you have a solid set of practical photography skills and enjoy explaining new things to people then you can set up your own free classes or workshops. You can work with people from your community to teach them the basics, and more, of photography during the weekend or in evening classes.
Alternatively, you can offer your services to schools in your district and even volunteer to teach in prisons where you can help to rehabilitate people by teaching them valuable new life skills.
Volunteering is a Great Way To Give Back to Your Community.
However you choose to give back to your community you’ll be making a unique difference to the lives of those around you. Sharing your talents and skills is an extremely rewarding experience and will leave you with memories you’ll never forget.
Volunteering is Incredibly Rewarding.
When you take the time to pass on some of your skills and services you will be making a real difference to the lives of others who are often less fortunate than yourself. Try to volunteer in a field that you have a personal connection to and where you can bring the most benefits to those you are giving back to but at the end of the day wherever you chose to help out your efforts will be rewarded with genuine gratitude and thanks.
Have you volunteered as a photographer?