with Courtney Slazinik
5 Creative Ways to Give Back with Photography
5 Creative Ways to Give Back with Photography

Photography is powerful. As photographers, we tell stories, immortalize history. We make tangible the intangible. Authentic emotion is the root of all that we do. Thus, as I’ve found in the last four years of pursuing this craft, it seems only natural to channel this potential into not simply creative and financial provision for my family and me personally, but into good in, around and for my community. Here are 5 ways I’ve found to give back through photography.

  • No.
    Document celebrations

    I’ve written before about the 5 reasons I shoot every day. One of those is freeing inhibitions. Since becoming a photographer, I have gotten many a snide comment, a teasing jab at the camera I keep on hand at nearly every gathering, every event. Additionally, the number of times I’ve run into someone or been stumbled over as I work to get just the right angle, well, the number is embarrassing.

    However, becoming my family’s historian is a gift I like to believe will be cherished for generations to come. Recently my father was hospitalized and his prognosis was unknown for quite some time. Months later at his birthday celebration, the image I captured of the life he exuded will forever remain one of the most treasured memories for all those who love him. Taking your camera to events, play dates, excursions and celebrations for the purpose of documenting rather than a single shot for the photo books changes the way you look at your time. Suddenly, the expressions, interactions, details take on new meaning. Then, burn a CD for those involved or set up a DropBox account for simple sharing. Allow others to experience the joy without a price. Shooting for the purpose of preserving history for future generations is humbling, noble and rewarding.

    Giving back through photography by Allison French via Click it Up a Notch

  • No.
    Make art

    Art evokes emotion, and emotion is the essence of humanity. Stepping outside of the confines of the expected to reach for what speaks to the soul is a gift to oneself. However, there is more. Doing so frees others to see life in a new light. It unveils beauty. A recent getaway gave me the opportunity to shoot only landscape photography. Being primarily a portrait and lifestyle photographer, this presented the unique challenge of stretching my comfort boundaries.

    However, in doing so, I was able to create art like I never had before, and a new sense of gratitude was born. Challenge yourself to shoot for the purpose of sharing what you have found beautiful. Consider abstract photography, macro photography, tilt shift photography, street photography. Then, after shooting, submit it, publish it, frame it, display it, give it. And, then, step back to watch the joy blossom.

    Giving back through photography by Allison French via Click it Up a Notch

  • No.
    Embrace a passion

    Spend some time reflecting on what last moved you to the core. Although it’s easy to get caught in the routine, the logistics, the details, when was the last time you paused. When was the last time you wept? When was the last time chills swept across your skin, stilled to the soul by awe? Giving in the channel of a personal passion has the potential of being the most meaningful experience you may ever have.

    Personally, I see birth as the greatest miracle there is. When a spirit joins earthside, pink lungs filled with life for the first time, skin against skin, love created new; it is everything. Nervous, excited, agony, nakedly vulnerable, the myriad of emotions through the arrival is unparalleled. Photography has given me an avenue of honoring mothers through photographing their births. While most of the time this is a paid endeavor, I am sensitive to every story and listening to the heart behind why some may not be able to afford my services gives me the chance to share my passion even in situations where I may not be getting paid and thus bless others in an incredibly sensitive time. Some of the most powerful experiences of my life have been when I have had the chance to gift my time and talents to families who do not have had the resources to pay me.

    Once I photographed a family welcoming the birth of their much anticipated son after years of infertility through the miracle of a surrogate. Months later I was able to be a part of two families who had grown up together, whose children had fallen in love and just weeks before they all moved across the world from each other, the first grandson was born. In both of these situations, the reward of joining these celebrations was far more lasting than any paycheck.

    Giving back through photography by Allison French via Click it Up a Notch

  • No.
    Support locals

    As an entrepreneur, I am acutely aware of the essential nature of networking. Seeking out fellow creatives and small business owners to not only support their endeavors, but learn from their expertise has been an avenue of giving back I’ve just recently discovered. I keep a careful ear out for individuals whose work ethics humble me and whose drive inspires me. Kansas City local, Sam Unruh of Unruh Furniture, went from tinkering in his garage to employing and mentoring young men, to developing a reputable, outstanding brand, to now seeking out single mothers to provide charity through free family tables for in his own giving back. Partnering with him to feature his work has not only developed meaningful, strategic relationships but allowed us the opportunity to reach wider out to the community with our missions. Living on the land, working daily towards self-sustaining systems and provisions, everything about her life about dedication. In both cases, photographing these courageous individuals free of charge in order to recognize their work and success was an honor.

    Giving back through photography by Allison French via Click it Up a Notch

  • No.
    Respond to need

    In a world flooded with information, we don’t have to seek out those who are hurting; they are ever present. However, photography is an avenue of not simply feeling, but responding. Look for ways to utilize photography to bless these individuals, these communities, whether by raising moral, awareness or funds. Being such a visual and viral industry, photography has a unique capability to reach an extremely broad audience. When a friend’s daughter was diagnosed unexpectedly with leukemia, I didn’t wait to be asked to get involved. I approached her gently but proactively, asking to partner with the campaign that was already in place. Within hours of adding photography to an amazing support system already in place, the donations doubled and exceeded their goal amount. Allow yourself to listen to the stories that are already happening. Let your heart settle on the magnitude of what those around you are facing. Then, allow your soul to sift through the information and dream for how you can come alongside your neighbors. Your unique involvement will, undoubtedly, be a gift.

    Giving back through photography by Allison French via Click it Up a Notch

Whether we find it easier to be caught up in the dog-eat-dog perspective prioritizing cut-throat self-sufficiency or calloused and dulled to wonder, swept up in the mundane and demands of the urgent, one or both of these threats to our tenderness and creativity are usually present. However, one of the quotes I’ve hung on the walls of our home serves as a constant quiet whisper to my heart through it all. Be the good. Pause. Feel. Dream. Respond. And as I’ve experienced personally, choosing to give back, to be the good, will not only brings good to society, but the soul.

Links to how I’ve given my heart can be found on the Allison Corrin Photography blog or with these links: documenting celebrations, making art, embracing passion, supporting locals and responding to a need.

  • Christy
    May 1, 2015 at 1:12 PM

    I absolutely love this post! So many great ideas!

  • Linda
    May 1, 2015 at 4:35 PM

    We were recently blessed with the volunteer work of an amazing photographer through the organization Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Those pictures are one of the most precious items I own, and it is a gift to our family, helping us remember a son and brother we never got to know!

  • Sarah Harrigan
    May 1, 2015 at 9:54 PM

    I love your suggestions, and your heart, Allison! These are great ideas, and I’ll be mulling them over to figure out ways that I can use my talent/gift to reach out as well. I have always been the one with the camera everywhere I go, and have been able to enjoy passing on casual photographs to friends/family. I really like your thoughts on partnering with local businesses that promote similar values as yours. That really interests me- but I’m kinda stuck in my thought process on what businesses might find photography a valuable partner. How did you come across these business owners? I would love more info on it. Maybe I’ll have to wait to ask you in person in October. :) But, I’d really love to hear about it more!

    • Allison
      May 7, 2015 at 1:44 PM

      Sarah, oh I know! I keep an eye on Instagram and for hashtags that might make sense such as #shoplocal or #shopkc or #midwestbloggers since I am in Kansas City. Of course you could tweak that to your city. Also searching on Etsy, posting in Pursuit31 for anyone who has connections, keeping an ear open on the news, in local entrepreneur Facebook groups, etc. I have been blessed enough to have connections through growing up, church and the Kansas City Moms Blog City Network to connect me, but would love to hear what you come up with! Jewelry makers, bakers, farmers, artisans, designers, etc. all would LOVE to be showcased!

  • Cheryl
    May 6, 2015 at 9:19 PM

    Loved your post…I haven’t really found my “giving” nitch yet but I would like to…I do a lot with my photography and someday I’ll give more…but never know how to approach “a need.”…
    thanks for sharing…

  • Susanne
    May 7, 2015 at 5:13 AM

    What a lot of beautiful ideas!!

    I got very touched by the one about your friends daughter with leukemia. My own daughter has just recovered from leukemia, and I would really like to know who the little girl you know is doing? Is she finished with her treatment?

    Kind Regards – and thanks for a beautiful blog!!

    • Allison
      May 7, 2015 at 1:41 PM

      Thank you so much for your thoughts and concern! Kit is continuing to hold strong and be an inspiration to many. Her Facebook page is at the following link so you can follow her journey: https://www.facebook.com/keepingupwithkit

      • jeanine laroe
        June 17, 2015 at 6:24 PM

        I had my camera in the car at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee as thought it was not appropriate to bring it in at this time. The parent’s had decided with the doctors that it was time to disconnect the life support on baby Joey and the parents had asked us to be there with them and their immediate family. They wanted a family picture and asked me if I had my camera. I ran out and got it and took about 120 pictures that afternoon at their request. I can not begin to tell you how much they appreciated these pictures and thanked me over and over again. Even today, I am reliving those feelings of gratitude just writing about it. I gave a gift that no one else could have that afternoon. Thank god I had my camera in the car.

        • June 19, 2015 at 3:07 PM

          Wow! What blessing those photos must be to the family. I’m so glad you had your camera on you :)

  • Eileen Dibble
    March 10, 2016 at 11:53 AM

    Every word of that spoke directly to my heart. It’s the best article I’ve ever read about photography… and I read everyday on the subject. Thank you so much for sharing! Eileen

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