Give and Take (Nothing)

For many photographers the concept is fairly simple. Give me money and I’ll take your photograph or sell you one that I’ve taken. The idea of getting paid to take a photograph is not a new concept and quite often becomes the desire of many aspiring photographers, myself included. For some of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you might recall some of my recent posts when I have talked about wanting to do more with my photography and use it for a greater purpose. Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing some research on organizations and individuals who are using their talents to take a photograph and get nothing in return. I thought I would pass along a list of organizations that have really impressed me. If you know of another concept or organization that I haven’t mentioned here please feel free to share back with me.

The Maple Leaf Mission is an organization based out of Edmonton Alberta whose mission is to provide portrait photography to families of individuals who are: facing a terminal illness, living with a debilitating illness yet demonstrates a life lived to the fullest, military families celebrating homecomings or deployment, soldiers returning injured from a tour. For more information on The Maple Leaf Mission visit http://themapleleafmission.ca/.

Help Portrait was started by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart. The concept is simple. Find families or groups who would like a portrait but can’t afford to have one taken. Single parents, underprivileged families, families affected by illness, army veterans, or just a neighbor. Go to http://help-portrait.com/ to learn more.

According to their website “Outside the Lens™ (OTL) is a San Diego-based youth media literacy program dedicated to celebrating the vision and voices of children around the world and across cultures. Students (K-12) tell their unique personal stories using photography, writing and other digital media forms while under the guidance of writers, poets, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, artists, and teachers.” I like this concept a lot. The idea of giving a young person a camera should help us see the world in a new perspective. Right now they are participating in a global photography project called Water in Focus which documents the use, waste, conservation and pollution of the world’s water supply. If you are interested in learning more about Outside the Lens visit them at http://www.outsidethelens.org/.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is an organization that has really captured my attention for personal reasons. The mandate of NILMDTS is to help parents recover from the loss of a baby. This might seem like a morbid type of charity but for parents going through a very difficult situation it might be an important part of the healing process. For parents of stillborn babies, and babies that die shortly after birth a photograph might be the only thing they bring home from the hospital. Right now they have over 12000 volunteers in 40 different countries.

Photo Philanthropy is an organization that is all about social change. They connect photographers with non-profit organizations around the world. Projects may include environmental causes, social and economic situations in places like third world countries, or education on a variety of topics. If you are thinking about donating your talents to a cause this might be a good place to start.  You can connect with them at http://photophilanthropy.org/.

If you are interested in learning about more organizations to partner with you may want to look at the website http://shuttermission.org/ or do your own search on philanthropy and photography.

“From what we get, we can make a living;
what we give, however, makes a life.” –
Arthur Ashe

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What Will Your Resolution Be?

Been down so long that is seems like up,
I took it now I’ve had enough
Of the life that I’ve been livin’
It feels so cold this far away
So Today I will make a change
I will make a change today
Purge my mind of mud and mire
Cast all my gods away
I am brand new today, I make my resolution

– OC Supertones

Like most people who make New Year’s resolutions, I usually fail to keep them the whole year.  I think there is  part of me that struggles with the idea of an annual commitment when I know that most of us are not likely to succeed in keeping them.  To be honest, I don’t really like the concept of a New Year’s resolution. Why do we wait for one day of the year to commit to doing something to improve our lives or the lives of others?  How much better would the world be if we treated everyday like New Year’s Day?

Now to some the idea of a new resolution everyday may seem flawed.  What is the point of only keeping a resolution one day?  Does it become obsolete the following day when we make a new one?  Can I have the same resolution 2 days in a row?  Is it possible to work on more than one resolution at once?  Wow, this is complicated… or is it?  What if we all decided each day to do something out of the ordinary? Buy a co-worker lunch, send a handwritten note of thanks, send home flowers for no reason, or maybe do something nice for a friend anonymously.

Do something for somebody everyday for which you do not get paid.    Author: Albert Schweitzer

What would happen if a group of people came together to work on a collective resolution?  What could a church, small group, community or a whole city accomplish? How much easier would it be to keep our resolution if we had someone to walk beside us and encourage us and we encourage them in return?

So what is my challenge?  There are many personal goals that are worthwhile and worthy of me pursuing.  For some people it is to quit smoking, eat healthier, or exercise more.  These are all important and I would encourage everyone to look at any lifestyle changes that are going to improve your health.  However, there is a longing inside of me to do something that is external and would mean more to those around me, maybe even in my own home.  This is the year that I hopefully take that giant step and move outside my comfort zone and follow through on my own resolution.

It's a New Day - Dear Island, NB

Like taking a photograph to help us remember a special moment or place, a resolution can be a way to help us remember to make the world better than we found it.