with Courtney Slazinik
Paying It Forward in Photography
Paying It Forward in Photography

Photographers can pay it forward and you don’t have to be millionaire or 10k photographer to do so. As your career blossoms you will find yourself showered with people who want to help your business succeed. Some info may be free and some course you may have paid for but non-the-less you are learning from those who want to help the photography community.

There will come a point in every persons career that their eyes open and they realize just how far they have come. You may feel like you are at that point now. You may also just be starting out and think it might be too early to pay it forward.

I assure you, it is never to early to pay it forward or give back.

I have been so bless to learn so much from the protogs (Katelyn James, Jasmine Star, Rebekah Hoyt, and others) that I regularly follow that I found myself also wanting to help out the community.
Naturally, writing articles about photography is an immediate option. You really can help others with “How To” and “Top Tips” posts but if you find yourself wanting to do more I created a list of ways photographers can pay it forward.

  • No.
    Giving Back Through Non-Profits
    • PhotoPhilanthropy promotes and connects photographers with nonprofit organizations around the world to tell the stories that drive action for social change.
    • Flashes of Hope organizes photographers and children with cancer to have a photo session that guarantees a lifetime of memories for that children. These images are changing the way that child see him/herself.
    • The Giving Lens organizes teams of photographers to volunteer in humanitarian efforts in impoverished areas of the world.
    • Operation: Love Reunited is a non-profit organization that provides free professional photography sessions and photo gifts to our military families dealing with a deployment. We have photographers located world-wide, and we also have a branch in Australia covering their military persons.
  • No.
    Giving Back Locally
    • Give Free Introductory Classes at your local library. It doesn’t even have to be photography related, just something your passionate about and willing to help other.
    • Donate prints to a coffee shop or small business. This will help decor and help spread your name too. Of course, you would have to provide the canvas or prints.
    • Donate a family portrait session to someone who might not be able to afford one. We call this a compassion shoot and its a great way to surprise some and make there day. Plus, you may eve be able to use it as a tax write-off.
    • Photograph a Non-Profit doing work in the community. For example, take pictures at the next Habitat for Humanity work day or local Chamber of Commerce event. You could even turn it into a blog post!
    • Or simply, Donate Proceeds to an organization that you really like what they’re doing.

Now, to be completely honest, I don’t feel like I could do all these but I do plan on doing some (and then writing about, of course). Do you feel inspired by this list of top ways photographers can pay it forward?

Please comment below about other ways you can think of that would be good for this list. Or, better yet, tell us about your experience with one of these ideas.

  • […] read the complete article, where I give more information and examples go to the complete article, How to Pay it Forward in Photography, that was published on […]

  • Amy
    April 22, 2015 at 6:30 PM

    Tiny Sparrow Foundation is a nonprofit which provides photos for families with children who have life-threatening illnesses. We are always accepting applications for new affiliate photographers. We are nationwide in the U.S. tinysparrowfoundation.org

    • Jon | FEATUREphotog
      May 22, 2015 at 12:40 AM

      Love this!! keep up the great work!

  • Beth Genengels
    April 22, 2015 at 7:36 PM

    Our Church has a photography ministry, it’s a perfect opportunity to get involved and PIF! I love the idea of donating prints to a local coffee shop.

    • Craig
      April 23, 2015 at 6:28 AM

      Can you explain to me how it works? I would love to start something similar at my church!

      • Jon | FEATUREphotog
        May 22, 2015 at 12:47 AM

        Sorry to be vauge but I think a great resource for you would be Chris Hsieh of La Brisa Photography.

    • Maureen King
      May 10, 2015 at 5:58 PM

      I’m very interested in the church photography ministry. How do you decide who you take photos of ? How does this work? Thank you so much for sharing !!! I am interested in doing something like this at my church.

      Maureen King

      • Jon | FEATUREphotog
        May 22, 2015 at 12:50 AM

        I’m starting to think every Church needs a photography ministry. Let’s all contact Chris Hsieh and ask him for help!

    • Jon | FEATUREphotog
      May 22, 2015 at 12:44 AM

      Photography ministry at church?? That’s awesome! I’d love to learn more about what your doing.

    • Beth Genengels
      October 15, 2015 at 2:57 PM

      Oh! I’m so sorry I didn’t notice the replies! Basically its just a group of photo enthusiasts who volunteer to photograph our events. It a division of the public relations ministry. We photograph everything we can from VBS, to marriage ministries, tailgates. We try to take names of children too and then we forward to the head of the ministry with names, frame numbers and edited pictures. They are used on FB (no children’s names) and in bulletins and newsletters. It gives you a chance to practice up! We have photographers of all levels.

  • Alyssa Farr
    April 22, 2015 at 9:12 PM

    Similar to the Tiny Sparrows Foundation, “Now I lay Me Down to Sleep” is an organization providing free photographic services to terminally ill children. A wonderful photographer took pictures of my husband and me with our daughter on the day we took her off life support. We will be eternally grateful, always.

    • Alyssa
      April 22, 2015 at 10:03 PM

      I actually worded that poorly. The NILMDTS organization specializes in families suffering the loss of an infant….usually infants who never leave the hospital.

    • Jon | FEATUREphotog
      May 22, 2015 at 12:52 AM

      It must be such a beautiful experience to participate in one of those sessions.

  • Heather Whitehouse
    April 23, 2015 at 8:50 AM

    I love all of this! I try to volunteer often and I’m always looking for new things to do! What better way to do so while doing something I feel passionate about!

    • Jon | FEATUREphotog
      May 22, 2015 at 12:54 AM

      Get fired up! I wish you all the luck. Contact me in a few months and let me know what your experience was like.

  • Bonni
    April 23, 2015 at 1:17 PM

    I do photo shoots of the animals for local rescue groups for their adoption pics!

    • Jon | FEATUREphotog
      May 22, 2015 at 12:56 AM

      That’s awesome. It has to be so much fun to be around all the animals and I’d I bet it’s giving you some exposure too. :)

  • Rebecca Brown
    April 23, 2015 at 4:23 PM

    I am almost 1 yr in business, but this past Christmas I launched a year long project called Red, White, and Blue Christmas. It offers a free session to all our Active Duty members and families. It’s not much as I live in a small community but I felt it was my way to say Thank you. I have done 2 so far.

    • Jon | FEATUREphotog
      May 22, 2015 at 12:58 AM

      Perfect! This is great and we are all so thankful for the sacrifice of our military. God bless them!

  • Allison Armstrong
    May 4, 2015 at 1:43 PM

    To me, giving is about giving to your family first.

    An excellent opportunity for practice and portfolio building is to contact every aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, and nephew and GIVE them a beautiful photograph.

    Because then the next time I have a new technique I want to try out, I can call them and let them know, “I have a new technique I would like to try, it may not work, but would you mind helping me by sitting for a photograph?”

    • Jon | FEATUREphotog
      May 22, 2015 at 1:07 AM

      Family always makes great test subject and it’s certainly great to have a supportive family. But don’t get too comfortable, I challenge you to expand your reach and help change your community for the better with your photography!

      Hey, crazy idea just popped into my head… What about something like tracking down family of an elderly person, getting them all together, and having a reunion session!! Anyone?

  • Terryl
    May 10, 2015 at 10:26 PM

    I don’t know if it’s been mentioned or not, but Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a wonderful way to Pay it Forward by helping grieving families who have lost a newborn.

    • Jon | FEATUREphotog
      May 22, 2015 at 1:09 AM

      Yes, NILMDTS is wonderful organization and doing great things.

  • Erin Martin
    November 22, 2015 at 8:37 PM

    I volunteer with Superkids Charity. We travel to China and Taiwan twice a year and I take photos of children in orphanages who are or soon will be available for adoption. We then come home and advocate to find families for these children.

    • Viara
      November 23, 2015 at 2:15 AM

      Erin, do you have to pay your own travel costs?

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