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  1. #1

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    Requesting Advice On Voluntary Photojournalism

    Hi,

    I do contract work and have time here and there between jobs and would now like to put that time to good use volunteering my photographic services (for free) to NGOs/similar dealing with trouble spots/humanitarian disaster.

    I am proposing offering free services plus free use of all/any images for promotional purposes/campaigns. I would hope in return to get travel and very basic life support for the duration of any assignment.

    I am going to consolidate some of my work and hopefully work on a website so that I could direct any intersted party in that direction.

    Anyone have any thoughts? Am I barking up the wrong tree? Has onyone here had similar experiences or made such efforts? Anyone got any advice/contacts that might be interested or able to help

    I would imagine that most don't have the chance as you work a regular week/year. My situation is a mixed blessing but when between contracts I am happy to use my time in this way as personal therapy and also to build experience for a (pigs will fly) foray into photojournalism should I be very lucky indeed.

    I have plenty of experience in horrid & hostile places and am well travelled so have no issues with that side of things. I have seen plenty of misery and very much want to use my photography for something worthwhile while I have the chance.

    Tom S

  2. #2
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    Please don't think this response unduly hard. it is meant to be only realistically hard.

    Since Photojournalism died about 10 years ago, you might re-think things a little bit.
    There are MANY great photographers wandering around looking for something to do.... and working for free.

    Vist:

    http://www.asmp.org/

    http://www.digitaljournalist.org/

    You may have a better chance if you are willing to support yourself to get there, and to stay there. Why take food out of somebody's mouth to fly you there ?

    If you have a connection with an organisation, work with them.

    And you may learn the job by working on some projects at home. If an organisation is going to take on the responsibility of looking after you, they will be happier to see what you will do for them before they take you on.

    Good luck. Work locally, photo-blog, and begin. It is work that MUST be done, but self sufficiency may be the best way to go.

    f/8 and be there.

    d
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  3. #3
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Don't know what part of the world you are in, Tom, so it's hard to be specific, but in the parts of it that I know reasonably well professionally (UK and Germany, to a certain extent the US), it is the (in some ways sad) fact that virtually the only way to get ahead in the media is to begin by working as an intern/volunteer. What you propose is, I think, fundamentally a good idea, you would need to agree that you retain copyright on all material (although the organizations you would work for would have unlimited free use of the material for their purposes) and above all, if you are venturing off the beaten track in the 3rd world, you would need to make sure that you had adequate accident/health insurance paid for by either yourself or client organizations. If you did this type of work and ended up with a good selection of tear sheets (examples of your work in print), this would stand you in very good stead for approaching editors for assignments later.

    KInd regards,

    David

  4. #4

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    Thanks so far and I expected that orgs might balk at paying a dime. My position is that I cannot justify it if I have to take cash out of my family account and I would be certain not to get support at my end. I guess the 'taking food from sombody's mouth' would arguably be counterbalanced by the benefit of having free images to use to get more money for more people...but that depends on whether my work is seen as credible enough at this stage. I can imagine that there are loads of people looking to work for free however and also paying their way. I guess I will have to keep building up my work here and there and hope that someone thinks I am worth the air ticket!

    More comments welcome and thanks both!

  5. #5
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    Agree with the above comments. That said... You should look up Stephen Shames. He's a photographer based in, I think, Philly, and works for NGO's in Africa. He also teaches workshops at the Maine Photographic Workshops... and I think has led workshops in Uganda.

    Granted... taking a workshop is probably not what you are looking for, but he is very active in this area.

    I must say... I think photographing for NGO's sounds all very noble, but there may be some inherent problems. If you find, in the course of the work, that they are corrupt or, more likely, incompetent then you are stuck having your photos promoting programs that may be a disappointment. As mentioned, photojournalism is indeed, dead.

    Good luck with your endeavors.

  6. #6
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    I have done voluntary work for the newspapers as well as the red cross and our local habitat for humanity, so it is possible to use these types of resources to get your foot in the door, habitat likes to have their building programs highlighted for their mail out brochures as well as their websites, as does the red cross, the newpapers will often times take images of local sporting events, teams and such, I know, maybe not the excitment your looking for, but it is a place to stop and check, another area I have worked in is as voyureistic as it may seem, I have photographed auto acidents, wildfires, hostage standoffs and such that have been used in the newpapers as well as regional magazines, your main goal is to get your name out there as a photog that can get the picture ethically and are not afraid to work in tough situations, but starting on a local level is the least expensive way to get into it, at least this is what I have found, I try to carry my camera with me at all times, to document everything from human interest, to human tragedy...


    Good luck, it is a tough business to break into, build your portfolio and you may see some success.

    Dave

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stanworth
    Thanks so far and I expected that orgs might balk at paying a dime. My position is that I cannot justify it if I have to take cash out of my family account and I would be certain not to get support at my end. I guess the 'taking food from sombody's mouth' would arguably be counterbalanced by the benefit of having free images to use to get more money for more people...but that depends on whether my work is seen as credible enough at this stage. I can imagine that there are loads of people looking to work for free however and also paying their way. I guess I will have to keep building up my work here and there and hope that someone thinks I am worth the air ticket!

    More comments welcome and thanks both!
    The following address is for a relatively new Japanese magazine that features "photojournalistic" pictures and stories.

    http://www.daysjapan.net/e/

    In the English menu, it doesn't say much, but besides its annual photo contest, it does feature stories submitted by working journailsts on a regular basis. It's an actualy magazine.

    The main theme of the magazine might be behind the time of what "photojournalism" in the U.S. used to be, but Japan is a different market with a different set of expectations that its society has. So don't get too caught up with the idea of what it is trying to be, but think it as a potential place to show your work. Contact them if you're interested.

    Good luck.

  8. #8
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    DAYS JAPAN

    Wonderful. Probably the first of many dedicated to getting images of the world out to people.

    don
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell



 

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