Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"For It Is In Giving That We Receive"

The title is a famous quote from St. Francis of Assisi and I think there is real truth in it. Until recently, I really haven't talked about the charity work I do and someone suggested I get it out there more. I've always felt charity work was something one should just do without saying, "Hey, look who I helped!" The point the person made was if I put it out there more, the word can spread and I can assist more charities by donating my abilities. So here I am, putting it out there.

Every year I shoot events for charities. I donate my time and the images to the charity, as well as their participants, to help their causes. Along with shooting charity events, runs, golf tournaments, and fundraisers; I've even donated photos from a 2007 ministry trip to Israel for a fundraising calendar. Each month of the calendar featured one of my photos from the trip and ALL proceeds from the internationally sold calendar went to the ministry who hosted the trip. That, by the way, is a great way for any charity organization to continue to generate donations after a ministry trip, mission trip, or event! Keep in mind, professionally taken photos sell more calendars than those taken by hobbyists or enthusiasts within your congregation or organization.

On top of donating event coverage over the years, in 2012 I donated $1200 in gift certificates that were auctioned by a number of locally affiliated national charities to assist their causes. This year I also shot a wedding and a number of portrait sessions (all at no charge) to help families in need. I was recently accepted as a "Wish Granter" for Wish Upon A Wedding, a nonprofit organization that provides weddings and vow renewals to couples facing terminal illness and serious life altering circumstances.

I don't shoot these events or donate hundreds of dollars in gift certificates and claim them as tax write-offs. The Donald Trumps of the world (or most business owners) would probably call me foolish for this. I feel that if I'm doing it to be charitable, I should truly give...not to mention it just feels good to do it! 

One of the events I shot this year, that had a huge impact on me, was the Surfers Healing a Foundation for Autism event in Virginia Beach, VA. Surfers Healing hosts day camps at the beach where autistic children and their families can be exposed to the therapeutic experience of surfing. A number of pro surfers, shapers, and tons of volunteers were all on hand to share their love of surfing with autistic children. As a long time surfer, I too know the therapy that surfing can provide. I've never seen so many smiles and all around joy as I did during their event in August. I donated all of the images I shot to Surfers Healing, their VA Beach Chapter, and any parent that contacted me for an image. With the help of the VA Beach Chapter of Surfers Healing Facebook page, I was able to send out nearly a hundred photos to the parents of the children who participated. The outpouring of appreciation from those families who spread the word about my photos landed nearly 12,000 photo views to my Surfers Healing Photo Gallery in 24 hours and, as of this posting, about 25,000 total views.

I have a few things coming up in the spring and later in 2013 to continue what I've done since I started as a photographer...GIVE. I give what I can, when I can, without expectation of anything in return. What I give to my charity clients is a benefit to their organization and their cause; what I get out of it, I can't put a price on. Feel free to contact me regarding local/regional charity events, missionary work, community assistance (soup kitchens, food/clothing drives, etc.), pet rescues (a photo can really make a difference in adoption), wildlife conservation organizations, NGO affiliations, or international causes that you may be involved with at