I was asked a little while ago to shoot some photos for a charity event. A bunch of musicians were getting together to support Oxfam and their fight against global poverty, and one of the musicians, who I had shot at a previous gig, asked if I wouldn't mind donating my time to come and give the event some exposure.
My diary was free, so I was in.
I don't know about you, but ultimately I want my photography to mean something. By that I mean 1 of 2 things.
I want to use my skills to directly raise money for people who need it more than I do.
I want to use my abilities to tell the stories of people who need the exposure in the hope that it will draw the kind of attention which makes their lives better.
This charity event is an example of the former. It certainly didn't give me shots which I was that proud of. The lighting wasn't great and I just had to make do with a bad situation. From the moment I walked in the door I could tell this wasn't going to give me much, but then that wasn't the point. The shots were going to be used in the media to create exposure for Oxfam and it's cause. It's useless trying to measure the monetary effect these shots had at the end of the day, but for me it's enough to know that it could help redirect some funds towards those who desparately need it. I wasn't directly telling an inspiring story, but my work would hopefully help regardless.
If you're going to shoot these sort of events I think it's important just to go in to serve the cause and leave the results to others. Hopefully you are shooting for a charity you know and trust with the outcomes in the first place.
As for the latter; it is my dream job to shoot for a charity one day. More than portraiture, more than food photography, and certainly more than product photography, which just aids rich people in buying more things they likely don't need, I would love my photography skills to have a conscience about their use. Shortly before coming to London I applied for a job here to shoot for a Catholic Charity who run orphanages and homeless shelters the world over. The role would have been to travel to these different centers and visually tell the stories of the good work being done so as to help raise funds. I cannot think of anything more fulfilling to do with my camera than create this kind of exposure.
I didn't get the role, but I am always on the look out for my 'Holy Grail Job'.
Fredrick Buechner put it best when he said that, "Your vocation lies in the intersection of the world's great hunger, and your great joy."
I know this could easily be taken advantage of, but I am always looking to help a good cause, if I have the time to give. When they do present themselves I have to remember to go into these situations unselfishly. I'm shooting to tell a story, not with my portfolio in mind. If I hit two birds with one stone that's great, but the story comes first.
Take a look at the link to "The Give Back Project" in the menu above to see an initiative I started where I challenge people out there to fund short films for worthy Charities.
Here are some of the shots from the night I mentioned at the start of the post:
And here are a couple of videos I have produced for charities which I felt needed the exposure: