BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Juli Schatz

How to Use Photography for a Cause

As much as I love to share photos with family and friends (and anyone who cares to look at them!), see them posted on my Web site, or published in a magazine, I really want to find a way to "make a difference" using photography in some way - contribute something to the greater good. I would welcome any and all suggestions.

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6/25/2005 6:21:41 PM

Julie M. Cwik
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2005
  Well, to be honest, you need to find that within yourself. Each person leans towards a different "better good". What you can do is photograph the needy people and show a side that portrays them as not having much but still able to smile, and that gets them day to day. This will help remind those of us who are fortunate to be blessed with extra money, then can give and not feel that we were guilted into it.

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6/25/2005 9:25:25 PM

Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Hi Juli -
First, congratulations for having a good heart and wanting to make a difference! Far too many of us spend too much time worrying about ourselves and too little worrying about others. Kudos to you!
Now, some ideas: As a former clinical social worker who primarily worked with abused/molested/traumatized children, I discovered - early on - the great healing power of artistic expression for these kids. Quite a few years ago, Kodak started a program where they donate cameras, film, and other supplies to programs that encourage children to use photography as a means of expressing themselves and showing their worlds. A number of community-based programs are still – at least to my knowledge – in existence around the U.S. If you live anywhere near a large city or even some smaller towns, you might want to contact a community center, special school, children’s hospital, or clinic, and find out if they either offer such a program or if they would be interested in starting one. You don’t have to be a great photographer yourself to help in such a program. The primary consideration is if you have the time, energy and interest in working with kids.
If your interests run more to helping the environment, you might wish to consider volunteering your time and skills to help document local environmental hazards and concerns. Another idea (one that I am currently involved with) is to volunteer at a local nature center or refuge. Many of these places need photographers to help document natural specimens ranging from birds and animals to trees and flowers. I started volunteering at a local nature preserve several years ago, and now I sell some of my images to people who visit the center.
These are just some beginning ideas; I am sure that if you do some local research you will find even more options. Good luck!

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6/26/2005 7:25:16 AM

doug Nelson   If your causes include peace and justice, the environment, opposition to torture, ethical treatment of animals, and other progressive causes, look at and locate an indy-media organization close to you. They are more likely to be in big cities. To look at one, see People who submit news stories, opinion, and photographs are amateurs. These folks, however, are not kids; they check their facts very carefully, and are articulate and civil. You can attend events of any organization whose ideals you agree with, and shoot, and give them the photos for their newsletter.

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6/26/2005 7:38:54 AM

Juli Schatz   Three great responses, thanks! All are already giving me ideas and direction. Julie C. - you are right. But I've been thinking about this for so long - "paralysis of analysis?!" - I was hoping that insight such as what I've received would help move me past thinking. And it has. Thanks again!

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6/27/2005 7:25:19 AM

Kristina Juodyte
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/23/2005
  I volunteer for a local animal shelter, taking pictures of the stray pets that come in every week.

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6/27/2005 8:09:41 AM

Veronika KISH
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/9/2005
  Try and search for photography related projects. This is a great way to help others as well as build your portfolio.

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6/28/2005 6:33:10 AM

Gloria A. Wilson   I know someone who is volunteering at the local Hospice, taking portraits of the residents. Emotionally difficult, but extremely appreciated.


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6/28/2005 6:47:46 AM

Kathy Shogren
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
Contact Kathy
Kathy's Gallery
  Hi Juli! My answer is on the same lines with Kristina. I volunteer at the local Animal Shelter. I take photos of people's pets in costume. The costumes are furnished by the shelter and used from year to year. For a $10 donation to the shelter, a person gets this darling photo of their pet in costume. Every other year, pets are photographed with Santa Claus. The money raised helps to pay for needed supplies, and a few perks, to help make the strays more comfortable and adoptable. Please have your pet spayed or neutered!

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6/28/2005 8:10:10 AM

Marcel Dufort   Hi Juli.
I am an amateur.
I am a member for a university that gives conferences for retired people (Which I am one) and I take pictures of teachers and I sent it to them through email, I also keep them on my computer the the university use.
Another member approach me because the Rotary club was making a two days of golf and all the money saved was going to the neurological research center.
We were four photographs and we took 450 pictures, I put them all on my computer with companies logo and the second day at souper time they shooted all of them and it was a success.
I do more than that, and I am glad to help others. One day I saw a film (Payer et passer au suivant) which means Pay and pass to the next, and I think that it's within ourselve that it starts...
Good luck.


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6/28/2005 9:40:19 AM

Ann Widner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/2/2005
  Hi, Juli! I used to volunteer at a local community center, where I taught photography to underprivileged teens. I got donations of old 35 mm cameras, film, and processing, and I put together short lesson plans. It was really rewarding, and I think the kids got a lot out of it, including the feeling of having a little bit of control over a small part of their lives. Plus, they had fun being creative! We even had an exhibit of their work. -- I now work for a non-profit (not doing photography, unfortunately) and I think that there are lots of smaller non-profits that would love to have a volunteer photographer to take pictures at their special events, as well as photograph the clients they serve (for PR purposes, such as newsletters and brochures.) There are so many ways you can use photography to help make the world a better place!

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6/28/2005 2:08:55 PM

Ron  Hiner   Juli - I'm on to the same thing... here's what I do... I've set up a site at (pro version) For $99 per year. I shoot local kids sports events and anything that happens on stage (theatre/dance/concerts). On occaision, some of the parents buy my photos -- and then I donate all the proceeds back to something related to the event. For example - profits from a ballet recital will go to an organization that pays for ballet instruction for families that can't otherwise send their kids. The parents about town take their own pictures, but they still buy mine. Everybody feels good -- and we make a difference.

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6/29/2005 5:51:02 PM

Olivia Navarro
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/22/2005
  Hi Juli! An organization I'm considering volunteering my skills for is something called The Heart Gallery. It's a bunch of local photographers who get together and photograph kids in the area who are available for adoption. It gives a better sense of who these children are than just the typical yearbook picture or family snapshot would. Let me know if that's something you're interested in and I can probably point you in the right direction to get started.

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6/29/2005 8:32:57 PM

Juli Schatz   Thanks everyone for your thoughtful answers. You've given me a lot of things to think about and a couple of good ideas I may pursue.

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7/7/2005 3:08:21 PM

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