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  1. #1
    Gay Larson's Avatar
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    How much community service work (photography) do you do?

    I have been volunteering to do a project for our State Dept. of Human Services for several years for kids up for adoption. (It's a subject close to my heart) Now I'm being asked to be apart of a project for the YWCA to photograph immigrants for a traveling exhibit. I kind of like the idea of using photography as a community service and as long as they pay for film and paper, it's not too much out of my pocket. I'm just wondering how far this can go and do I want to expand it by offering my services to other organizations? Would I be taken advantage of? Would they otherwise hire a professional photographer who makes his or her living from their work? It's an interesting idea. What do you do when asked by such organizations?
    Prints available in the APUG GAllery
    www.gaylarsonphotography.com

  2. #2
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    I think it is a great idea. I haven't done much myself, primarily because I haven't found an outlet that matches my skills. However, I have built into my business plan, giving a certain number prints every year for charity sales, etc. I would evaluate every request that you receive to make sure that they are in keeping with your values, and to make sure that your regular business doesn't suffer from doing all community service work.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  3. #3

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    Dear Gay,

    It's a great idea and it doesn't take long to strike a balance. The people you want to work with will soon get an idea of how much time/money you are willing or able to expend; the ones who want to take advantage, or don't understand just how much time and effort you are putting in, will soon fade away. It will take a few weeks/months to sort this fully.

    I generally contribute film and proofs, and where appropriate, final prints too, all at my own expense -- though (for example) the Tibetan Government in Exile has also paid internal air-fares in India, plus accommodation and food.

    As well as the Government in Exile, I have also worked (in various epochs) for inter alia a cyclists' action group and our local parish church (Anglican) in the UK and la Hermosa Ciudad de Guadalupe in California -- which was fun because Padre Julio was Panamanian Catholic, the police chief was American Mormon, and I'm a Cornish Buddhist...

    Yes. Do it.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  4. #4
    DBP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
    Padre Julio was Panamanian Catholic, the police chief was American Mormon, and I'm a Cornish Buddhist...
    There must be a joke in there somewhere

  5. #5
    wfe
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    I have done a fair amount of community service work. Three years shooting a charity golf tournament, annual report for the local Planned Parenthood, portraits for the same local Planned Parenthood for their new website. I think community service is great and is good exposure. I always try to get published credits as well and ask for referrals.

    Regards,
    Bill
    ~Bill
    "Real Art is a Thin Breath Exhaled Amidst a Struggle in the Mind"
    Fine Art and Portraits

  6. #6

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    I volunteer as a staff photographer for the Minnesota Fringe Festival and I'm starting work with OverExposure, a group that does documentary shooting of social justice issues.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gay Larson
    I have been volunteering to do a project for our State Dept. of Human Services for several years for kids up for adoption. (It's a subject close to my heart) Now I'm being asked to be apart of a project for the YWCA to photograph immigrants for a traveling exhibit. I kind of like the idea of using photography as a community service and as long as they pay for film and paper, it's not too much out of my pocket. I'm just wondering how far this can go and do I want to expand it by offering my services to other organizations? Would I be taken advantage of? Would they otherwise hire a professional photographer who makes his or her living from their work? It's an interesting idea. What do you do when asked by such organizations?
    Based on my volunteering experiences with/without my cameras, it sounds wonderful. But for the sake of saving your energy and soul, just don't overkill. You should make a commitment based on what you want to achieve first.

    Ask your organizers how much work they want done that they need from you and how long they want you to stay on this new project. Is it just for a quick PR purpose or requiring a full body of documentary work? Is it going to take just a day, a week, a month, six months, a year...? And is your regular work schedule going to be okay if you start doing this?

  8. #8

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    I have over 4,200 hours of volunteer service to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, as a photographer and heavy equipment operator restoring habitat. I have donated many hundreds of slides and prints to the Service to use in educational programs. There are always individuals in about any organization that will push you for all they can get. Stand firm as to what you will and won't do. After all, if you're giving away your expertise, you should have a say in the matter. It's always a good idea to get an agreement in writing. All in all, I have enjoyed my volunteer service. I have had to deal with a few idiots, but the good far outweighs the bad. Also, I have received many certificates and letters of appreciation and the President's Award for volunteer service. That makes me feel good. These and hundreds of project record photos give me something to look back on in my retirement and say
    "yeah, I did all those things, and I'm proud of it."

  9. #9

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    I have donated prints for sale to Prevent Child Abuse MN, donated photography services to Model Cities of St. Paul (they provide inner city families with cost effective daycare) and have recently volunteered to photograph children waiting for adoption and special events (true to my heart as a Child Protection worker). I love this and people get to see my work away from the courts. I think each of us should think how we can give back to our varied communities. I also take photos for the Sunday School program at my church.
    Luke

    To create one's own world in any of the arts takes courage.

    Georgia O'Keefe

  10. #10
    Gay Larson's Avatar
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    This is really wonderful. So many people quietly going about giving back to their communities in many different ways without expecting recognition. Exactly what I expected from fellow APUG'ers
    Prints available in the APUG GAllery
    www.gaylarsonphotography.com

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