Giving with your pocketbook…and your camera
In these difficult economic times, we are all struggling with which charities to support. If you’re in the world of photography, you may want to help out organizations who use photography to improve peoples’ lives. Here are several groups that I’m impressed with. You can support them monetarily, or by volunteering your time and skills as a photographer.
Feel free to add your own photography-centric charitable organization in the comments area, below.
Rehabilitation Through Photography
One of the oldest photo-oriented charities in the country, RTP uses cameras to help physically and mentally disabled children, adults and seniors to go beyond their disabilities. Working with schools, nursing homes and institutions in the New York Metro area, RTP supplies cameras and instruction to help patients “grow in self-confidence and the way they see themselves and the world around them,” according to Executive Director Jane Becker.
In one program, residents of Creedmoor psychiatric hospital were taught to shoot self-portraits, helping them to see themselves differently. Then the residents started photographing each other, which led to social interactivity where there previously had been none.
A group of developmentally disabled men and women started Group 20, part of The Block, an organization supported by Rehabilitation Through Photography. This group, which started out equipped with a single camera and tripod, has created an impressive body of photographic work over the last two years. One member entered a national photo contest that was open to everyone, called “Discover America Through Postcards” and won second place. Todd Adelman, far left, is Group of 20’s Drector of Special Projects. Photo courtesy RTP.
RTP needs cameras, volunteers, and cash so they can expand their services beyond the immediate New York area. They’ve had to turn down requests from other areas due to financial limits and would like to have the ability to accept such requests in the future.
Help-Portrait is about using photography to help give dignity back to the homeless, the sick, and single moms. Once a year in December, thousands of photographers gather in hundreds of locations worldwide in dozens of countries and photograph those in need. The organization’s mission is simple: Find someone in need, take their portrait, print their portrait and deliver it to them.
Founded just last year by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart, Help-Portrait has quickly gained thousands of participants. The organization grew quickly thanks to smart use of social networking and the Web’s multimedia capabilities. This year’s worldwide Help-Portrait event took place last weekend, and next year’s is scheduled for December 3.
Help-Portrait needs funds to help pay expenses associated with individual events. You can donate to a specific event, or to the organization in general.
Do 1 Thing
The genesis for Do1Thing was the Heart Gallery of New Jersey. Launched in 2005, the Heart Gallery was professional photographers who donated their talent to shoot portraits of foster children who were eligible to be adopted. The program was a success; by 2008, 150 children had been placed in permanent homes thanks to their efforts.
Flush with that success, founders Najlah Feanny Hicks and Pim Van Hemmen decided to aim even higher: they started Do1Thing, which uses photography to shine the light on multiple issues impacting children and teens, one at a time, to build awareness of these issues, and partner with like-minded organizations that support that cause. The first issue, which began in 2009, was a focus on the 1.3 million homeless youths I the United States. Over 100 photographers were involved, including 31 Pulitzer prize recipients. Currently, Do1Thing is concentrating on young amputee victims of the Haiti earthquake (see photo, below).
Flashes of Hope
Every month, a team of photographers fan out across the country, visiting hospitals and homes of young cancer patients. This non-profit’s mission is to change the way children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses see themselves through photography, and to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Hospital waiting rooms and playrooms are turned into photo studios, complete with photographers, stylists and make-up artists, to give the families of these children, many of whom are terminal, a portrait that, according to the organization, “preserves forever the beauty, grace and dignity of their child.”
Sessions can be solo or with family or support team members, and each family receives a free, framed print and a CD with the original image files. Started by Allison Clarke during her son’s successful treatment for cancer, the organization’s first shoot took place in 2001. In addition to donations, the organization is always looking for photographers and others who can volunteer their time and services. If you’d rather give cash, keep in mind that $25 pays for a photo shoot for one child.
Photographer: Keri Riedel, Indianapolis
Do you have an organization that does charitable work using photography? Post a short description and a URL in our comments section.