Learn how to make less money with your photography.

Students pose a family at free photo day.

Students pose a family at free photo day.

Give it away, of course.

The photography school I attended is one of over 2,000 locations taking part in the worldwide movement to make family portraits for people in the community — and give the portraits to the family.  No charge.  Free.

Another student does post procuction.

Another student does post production.

As a student, I participated several years ago.  And, although I was able to contribute only a tiny amount of time this year, I dropped by to make some pictures of the picture makers.  One image I will not post here was of an instructor wiping a tear from his eye.  He had just been crying with a recipient of one of the photos.

A close friend (and mentor) travels to third world countries and makes images for non-profits.  He receives expenses only and contributes his time and skills.

    >>> Be sure to read to the end of this post.  I’ve got a plan

                   and you may be able to help. <<<                  

A photographer I’ve read about contributes, to the grieving parents, photographs of infants who were still born.  The photographs that I saw were very tastefully done and clearly showed the love of parents for the child even though the child did not survive. (There is an organization — Now I lay me Down To Sleep — that promotes this idea.  Since NILMDTS was founded, over 11,000 volunteers have been part of the network.  See link here.)

I know of a camera club in England whose members visit nursing homes and make photos of the residents with family members and then give the residents prints for their rooms.

 All of which caused me to give this some thought —

We photographers are different.  As photographers we have skills and we have equipment that most people do not have.  Why not share that good fortune?  This is the Christmas season, after all.

So…here’s where I need you.  With your help I am going to compile a listing of ways that photographers and photo clubs can (and do) help the less fortunate.  Maybe you or your club has already done something along these lines. 

If you will contribute an idea in the COMMENT area below or through the CONTACT ME button, I will compile them and build a permanent page on my blog.  That page will be a source for your use personally or for use by your photo club.

Over two thousand people subscribe to this blog and the vast majority are photographers.  Please help — we can do a little toward improving the world!!

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George L Smyth - I have done this in the past – when a disaster has struck, like in Haiti, Pakistan, The Philippines, etc., I donate my work through eBay. Unfortunately, what happens is that the first print sells well but the second one shows little interest. However, at least it is something.

An example can be found at http://bit.ly/19NmVB9

Cheers -


skeeter - George, this comment is golden. I had no idea that such a program was available through eBay. I advise other readers to check out the example url that George references in his comment above. You will see how the donation system works and how George interacts with it. Thank you for this insight, George.

Julie - you know of any companies who will donate a backdrop? I would love for our senior photography students to do this as a community service project. Family photographs maybe for Easter or Mother’s Day. I can post in the poorer parish bulletin boards and families that cannot afford family portraits can come and we can give them 8x 10 prints. We have the photographers, the space but no professional backdrop… Thanks

skeeter - Hi, Julie

No, I don’t know of anyone who donates backdrops, etc., but, if you look here…


…you’ll see many ideas for making your own. If there is an arts department at your school this might turn into a joint project with them. Just a thought.


Phyllis Kedl - Families in homeless shelters have often never had a photograph of their children or of the family all together. I went down to The Family Place in St. Paul (day center for families without permanent housing) several times, and took pics of the kids and families who wanted them, and then made prints to give to the families themselves. They were overjoyed. Anyplace where there are families on the edge of, or in, poverty, is a good place to offer your services.

skeeter - You are so right, Phyllis. Is that in Minnesota? Must be bordering on critical this time of year. I’ll add this to my growing collection of ways to give back. Thanks. John

Marge Pangione - I belong to 3 photography clubs in South Carolina. One club takes pictures of dogs and cats in the shelters for adoption purposes in newspapers, another club helps the Boys and Girls club learn about photography and other club takes pictures at an outdoor mall during the holidays.

skeeter - Thanks, Marge. I’m adding this to my file on ways photographers can be give-back citizens. Someday I’ll write a blog about that and include all the suggestions I’ve gotten from readers. Thanks again.

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