Volunteer photography?


Acolyte

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Dec 8, 2009
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#1
Hi all,

Firstly, I want to state that this might be a sensitive topic, especially for those who earn their bulk of income from doing paid assignments, so mods please close this thread if it is deemed inappropriate.

Ok, my reason for starting this thread is to get a general sensing how common volunteer photography is, for whom do these photographers take for, and the avenues to "apply" to be such volunteers.

Some background information about me, I just ORDed from army and am awaiting to go to uni in Aug. In this period, I hope to go out and shoot for some charity organizations or schools, firstly to gain more experience in photography, as well as to build my portfoilo. Also, by doing thus, I might be able to make more friends and learn more stuff about the less fortunate, as well as to contribute back to society. Also, I hope to spend my time in a more meaningful way instead of just doing data entry as a part time job in a bank, trust me, its dead boring.

I have no desire to work for those who will use the photos taken for commercial usage such as advertisements, but for promotional or event coverage for charity stuff are fine, as long as due credit is given.

Does anybody know where to apply to be such volunteers, and by posting "volunteer photographer available" in the services offered thread, will I be adversely affecting those who earn their living from photography?

Please share your opinion, thanks!
 

Shizuma

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Mar 19, 2012
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#2
apply to your religious organization, eg, your mosque, your temple, your church, your religious association
apply to your clan body

Sure many takers

I doubt there is a real impact of pro-bono work in impacting serious commercial photographs (please don't flame me. i am not one)

i would liken it to lawyers offering pro-bono work, none of their fellow lawyers scream at them!
 

Dec 12, 2012
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#3
How about FTCD shoots for private engagements/couples/families?

Does it fall in the same category?
It is not really pro-Bono, IMHO, isit?

And just to play devil's advocate, volunteering to take the photos of an event held by the various welfare/clan/religious organizations would also then mean that you are depriving the pro photographer of the job that he would have undertaken. Where is the line drawn?

Ever since I read the "cufflink photo for $2" thread and the backlash that accompanied it, I realize that i am uncertain of the limits/conditions of unpaid/below-market-rate photography.
 

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Sep 17, 2008
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#4
Does anybody know where to apply to be such volunteers, and by posting "volunteer photographer available" in the services offered thread, will I be adversely affecting those who earn their living from photography?
to be honest, i doubt so. you are probably competing in a separate market all together.
if i'm the client, i want quality, i would had budgeted for a professional no? the odds of a volunteer photographer being very experienced and talented is low, though not impossible.

i'm quite sure that the client does not have in mind magnum level photos lah. to them, probably if got no volunteer photographer, they will just take a compact and shoot themselves lor. so i don't think you are actually affecting them.
 

catchlights

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#5
before you going around offering your services, for free or for a sum of money, are you competent enough on your photography skills? capable to provide decent results to whoever engaging you for your services?

if you are not, please spend more time to go shoot sunrise sunrise, firework, zoo, botanic garden, Chinatown, little India, street parade, National Parade, family and friends gathering,

don't be fool if your friends say you can go and make some money with your photography, they know noting better than you, and they don't have to be responsible if you ban on the wall if you are not ready.
 

catchlights

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#6
whether you shoot for money or for free, it is the same, you need to deliver results,
it is very naive and irresponsible if ones think that since he/she offering a free services, he/she can deliver sub-standard services to people.

you can read some sticky threads in Photo Biz, if you are keen on photography business..
if need to set a right mind before start offer your services...


I say again, if ones the mindset is incorrect, whatever he/she does, is not right.
he/she will not reach the destination till he/she set the course correctly.
 

catchlights

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#7
if you want to volunteer your services for a good cause, you should approach the charity organizations which you like to help,
not sit here and wait for people to come and look for you.

it is the same when you are shoot for money, you don't sit here and wait for customers/clients to come and look for you, go out and find them,
you will face rejection, you will encounter the assignment is too big for you to handle, you encounter people very unreasonable or very demanding, so why don't start now and face the reality?
 

catchlights

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#8
how many times have you met companies offer you free services, free products for totally noting in return?

when you go to supermarkets, some promoters will offer some food tasting, in order to let customers try their products before buying, did you know anyone give away the whole package of hotdog, instant coffee, or chicken nuggets for free? no right?

then why ask photographers going around shooting the whole event, session, assignment for FREE? is that OK?? use your brain lar!!!
 

sjackal

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Jul 9, 2008
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#9
Ok, my reason for starting this thread is to get a general sensing how common volunteer photography is, for whom do these photographers take for, and the avenues to "apply" to be such volunteers.
Very very common lah, with photography so popular as a hobby there are tens of thousands of people always trying to volunteer as way to enjoy their hobbies. So much so that most are seen as nuisances due to bad hats with mindsets where they care little or none for the impact they had on professional photographer's livelihood or even the event - doing things like bringing ladders right in front of runways in shopping centre fashion shows, pushing and shoving each other, if anyone remembers the fight at F1 races, or disturbing wildlife, if anyone remembers the quarrels about birding and disturbing nests, or running and darting around like monkeys in classy events, or hampering the pro at weddings and then complaining on CS forum that the pro blocked him. Generally being like a jerk. Many have the mindset of "I paid money for the farking camera, I can farking do what I want, anything and anyone can be sacrificed in order for me to get the shot(S) I want, plus I am NOT getting paid to do this I am NOBLE so you all shut up".

If want to volunteer, by all means, but ask yourself the intention of volunteering, is it photography first, or act of charity first. If on the day the organizer says "Acolyte can you don't take photos today but instead help out with ushering the guests?" Will you put down the camera and oblige or will you walk? Which is the true spirit of volunteering?
 

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catchlights

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#10
there are many charity organizations like serving the elderly or needy people, they do need some photos for publicity, usually they just get anyone to take photos with a PnS, no photographers want to help them, I guess these are not so glamours compare to many other events held in ballrooms.
 

donut88

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Nov 14, 2008
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#11
My opinion is to just go ahead. Don't listen to people's comments.

Its your time and effort, so make use of it according to what u want.

U wan to volunteer, do it wholeheartedly. There are many NGO and charities who really need help. And they simply cannot afford to pay professional fees.
 

catchlights

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#12
 

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catchlights

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#13
My opinion is to just go ahead. Don't listen to people's comments.

Its your time and effort, so make use of it according to what u want.

U wan to volunteer, do it wholeheartedly. There are many NGO and charities who really need help. And they simply cannot afford to pay professional fees.
I have done volunteer work before, some do appreciate the efforts offered by volunteers.


nobody have any issue with anyone can't afford to pay professional fees,

the only problem is when they WANT professional results and NOT willing to PAY for that. :)
 

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ed9119

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#14
I've heard of some new photo businesses who play on the 'Everybody Happy' angle and have a scheme offering ONE 'prize' for an outing shoot competition while collecting everyone's best images for the event organizer's benefit ..... and still getting paid by the organizer .... win-win situation for everyone it seems ...
 

Anson

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#15
offering ONE 'prize' for an outing shoot competition while collecting everyone's best images for the event organizer's benefit ..... and still getting paid by the organizer .... win-win situation for everyone it seems ...
Personally for this type of small contest, I think what the photographer is looking for recognition instead of the $$$.
 

catchlights

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#16
Personally for this type of small contest, I think what the photographer is looking for recognition instead of the $$$.
if you charge event organiser a huge sum, guarantee full coverage for every corners, than gather 20-30 or more photographers, offer a few hundreds for prizes......... not a bad idea of doing business this way.
 

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kandinsky

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#17
to be honest, i doubt so. you are probably competing in a separate market all together.
if i'm the client, i want quality, i would had budgeted for a professional no? the odds of a volunteer photographer being very experienced and talented is low, though not impossible.

i'm quite sure that the client does not have in mind magnum level photos lah. to them, probably if got no volunteer photographer, they will just take a compact and shoot themselves lor. so i don't think you are actually affecting them.
It's true, in my limited experience with 2-3 local VWOs on their publications/newsletters/magazines. At least for those I worked with, they are satisfied with ANY sort of coverage as they prefer to channel their funds on more 'direct' assistance for their beneficiaries. So it's not that they don't value good photography, but compared to everything else they care about, it's just quite low on the ladder. They are usually fully aware that volunteers may deliver poor results, and they accept that. The alternative would be zero coverage at all. They'd rather have one grainy, poorly composed group shot than no group shot at all. If the volunteer turns out to be talented at it, it's a bonus. For event coverage, they depend solely on volunteers. The profile of these 'volunteers' ranged from regular volunteers who enjoyed photography as a hobby (most common), their own staff who enjoy photography as a hobby, actual pro photogs who were doing pro-bono (rare), and yes, when nothing else was available, asked someone to take with a PnS or cellphone.
 

Anson

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#18
if you charge event organiser a huge sum, guarantee full coverage for every corners, than gather 20-30 or more photographers, offer a few hundreds for prizes......... not a bad ideal of doing business.
I guess it would very much have to depend on the nature of the event .
 

catchlights

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#20
some strange fact we notice, more high profile the event is, more stingy it gets...

I guess the money all went to event organizers, and most of them have seen many hardup photographers around and don't have high respect to them.
 

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