Every year I donate my time to do some charity work as a way to give back to the community. Ultimately it’s a way for me to give back doing something I enjoy. This is not the only event I do, there are other events like the “Sleep at the G” event, but for todays purposes, I’II be talking about the “Paddle Across the Bay” event. Across the bay is a series of events that occur in Melbourne to raise funds for the Cancer Council. The group runs two events currently, a kitesurfing event and a Stand up paddle board event. The participants pay money to enter and raise money for the event. Every year, the participants raise about $50,000 or more for the Cancer Council with the event.
The full event photos for this years can be found here but I’ve published some samples in this article:
My involvement in the event is simple, I arrive on the day, do the photos from the event start at 6:30am through to the prize giving at around 10:30am with the event finishing at 11am. After the event, I’ll do a first batch of post-processed photos for the initial post event marketing and press releases. Over the next couple of days, I post process the rest of the photos and then upload them with the appropriate branding.
So why do I do it?
It’s not for the publicity. I don’t do photography professionally so I don’t need additional work. It’s not because I’m a saint. There are far better people out there than me. It’s about having a social conscious, doing something good for society using talents we all have. The thing with donating your time is that it’s easy, it costs you nothing, but for a charity to hire a professional adds a substantial cost and overhead and ultimately the people who need the money lose in the long run. Now I know some people will complain about charities and how much actually goes to the people who need it, and obviously that comes down to being selective about the charity. Either way, if you’re donating your time, you know 100% of your time is going to a good cause.
How to get involved?
It’s surprisingly easier than you think.
It all comes down down to your personal interests. In my case, I am actively involved in these sports so finding a charity initiatives close to what I am doing is quite easy. The same applies to most areas. If you have an interest in animals, approach some of the animal welfare organisations and see if you can take some photos of dogs that are up for adoption. If they already have someone, they will let you know, if they don’t, they will be happy to have someone who can help out, and generally they won’t put pressure on you as a volunteer so if you can’t make it on a particular day, they are fairly accepting of that.
Ultimately, it’s an extremely low pressure way of doing event photography. Obviously, that’s not an excuse to do a bad job, but it does mean you can enjoy the experience without the added pressure that normally goes with major events.
If you have the emotional capacity, there are organisations like heartfelt that are always looking for photographers. I personally don’t know if I would be able to handle what they do, I’m a father with two young daughter and I think it would simply be too difficult for me to deal with this emotionally, so I have the utmost respect for those who do.
Whatever it is, there are some incredible opportunities for photographers to help out, doing something they enjoy. It’s a great experience, you learn an incredible amount every time you do it, and there are far more opportunities in this type of photography to capture raw emotion. People complain about raw emotion in photography and this is your opportunity whilst giving something back to the community.
Get out there, help the people that need it. It’s not hard and you can do it with something you love doing.
Things to know
It’s important to note that even if you aren’t a professional photographer and you don’t have insurance, as long as you are working with an organisation as a volunteer, more often than not you will be covered under their insurance so you won’t have to pay for insurance. Have a chat to the organisation and they should be able to confirm whether this is the case.
You will still need gear insurance, but I’m assuming that your current gear should already be insured in a personal capacity so that should not be a problem.
Finally, depending on the event and the country you are working in, you may have to have a “Working with children” check or a “police” check. I know this is a requirement in Australia, but I also know that in many cases you can get free checks down via the charity organisation you are doing work with so this should not be a problem.