with Courtney Slazinik
Photography Business: Creative Advertising Through Giving Back

It has always been a goal of mine to volunteer, help others & give back as much as possible to my community. When I started owning my own photography business it became even easier to give back than it was before. Having your own photography business allows you so much freedom to be creative in your efforts to help through non-profit work. I started implementing ways to help others each month on my own but in addition to that other opportunities presented themself to me (without me having to hunt them down) all the time.

What I started to realize is that even if you go into it expecting nothing in return purely out of the kindness of your heart, “giving back” is just about the most creative form of advertising there is. It’s virtually free (aside from your time or products if you choose to go that route), it makes a positive difference in the world, & leaves you with a sense of accomplishment when it’s over.

It feels good to give back.

Even though you don’t do it for credit or to get anything out of it, your business receives exposure, your name gets out there, you establish relationships, & can network with other small businesses/people.

The people who you help or met you through the cause you helped begin to have your back. They remember your name, might pass it on to their friends or even hire you for their personal photos. Helping others often opens doors that would not otherwise be opened. That’s why giving your time & talent can also end up being a creative (and often unexpected) marketing tool for your business.

As long as you give your time & talent for the right reason & don’t expect anything in return then you will never be disappointed. If you receive some advertising & exposure because of it then it’s an extra added bonus! In my experience, it has always ended up having a positive impact on my business….if not by gaining clients or work, by gaining friends & networking.

5 Creative Advertising for your Photography Business

To give you some ideas on ways to get started, here are some situations in which I utilized creative advertising as a photographer in the form of “giving back” –

1. Christmas Giveaway
I started a Christmas Give-Away each December where I accepted nominations of families in need….families with special situations that would not have pictures if it weren’t for the give away. I choose one or more families & give them a session plus the digital images so they can have them forever. This seems to be a pretty popular one among photographers.

2. Volunteering
I chose to volunteer my time to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation because it is something near & dear to my heart. For a couple years I volunteered to take pictures at the event.  This past year they hired me to do it.

3. Private Special Needs School Pictures
I took pictures of the entire student body at a local private special needs school, edited the images & had 8X10s printed of each child. There is a gap between the yearly cost to run the school & the amount of tuition the students pay, so they have to find ways to raise funds through out the year to close the gap. They sold the 8X10s at the yearly gala to help raise funds to close that gap.

4. Donating Sessions to Local Organizations
I am constantly giving sessions or minisessions to local organizations to help raise money at their fundraising events/auctions. Some of the organizations include: the Childrens Fund, Boy Scouts of America, Yellowstone Academy.

5. Local Animal Shelters
Photograph pets at a local animal shelter. There is a higher rate of adoption for dogs that are well-photographed!

This is just a small list to help get you started. If you are interested in doing this & don’t know where to start, you can always start by calling local school, daycares, churches, etc. & ask if they could use any support.

Let your area of expertise guide you in which direction you go. If you perfer photographing women over children, try contacting a women’s shelter or a hospital. There are opportunities all around us – more than we realize!

For more examples of ways you can use your time & talent to make a difference in your community check out this post on the Clickin’ Moms Giving Back With Photography.

How do you give back with your photography business??

  • June 22, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Outstanding post and so much information. I am not in the business no and I a professional but when my skills improve, I would like to donate my time. I now know where to start after reading your blog. Thank you for your time and all you do.

  • Cristin
    June 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    Operation: Love ReUnited is my choice for giving back! The military community is near and dear to my heart, and I think this is a fantastic organization. You do have to be a professional photographer though, but that is in my future as well :) Great article Kelly!

  • Kira
    June 27, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    Great ideas! Thanks for the article.

  • July 1, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Hi! thanks for the article, its inspired me to try to get out there more! I’m not a pro but working that way, i photographed my son’s preschool class in the spring and it was good practice and fun! I had fun and it opened other oppritunities because the parents were all satisfied and I had a few ask for my card ( which I now have! lol!) for family portraits! I practice on my cousins beautiful girls alot and my nephews! Thanks for your time and tips!

  • December 16, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    dear sir,
    saw your adevertisement in Patrika of your finely designed,well architected avenue of apratments and several modern facilities provided by you there on fixing one photo prints in drawing, dining bedroom and kitchen as gift to apartment purchaser will surely enrich decorection for ever they will also feel obliged and thankfull to you and also add fast wings to yours sales otherwise they won’t mind to pay few thousands whil purchasing flat in several lacs. you may also fix up this picture on the blank walls,infront of staircases etc.i have to offer all india basis photographes beautiful gardens,monuments,sculpture,various,carfts,life & people,folk dancers,diffrent types of flowers etc.all this prints at following size and rates.this will be leminated framed ,water,dust,dump,air proof.you may view my pictures on my web site http://www.jaicolorphotorium.com.

    size rates
    16”x20” rs.1200/ each
    20”x24” rs.1500/ each
    20”x30” rs.1800/ each
    24”x30” rs.2500/ each
    30”x40” rs.3000/ each

    I am hopefull you will give praciticle shape to it and place bulk order at your earliest.
    also please make it convenient to right the name and gate in hindi.

    thanking you

    bharat mata ki seva me
    ram krishna sharma

  • July 12, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    I currently offer free portrait sessions to soldiers and veterans. Thank you for the confirmation that offering a free service is great business. I think I will reach out to military organizations to get my name out.

    Do you use the time you have donated as a tax right off?

  • January 28, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    I am a member of OpLove and Welcome Them Home, two organization who takes pictures of soldiers and their families at the homecomings as they come home from deployment. Sometimes, the tears do fog the lens though ;) It’s always such a heartwarming experience.

  • February 17, 2014 at 2:37 PM

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  • Heather
    June 17, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    I have been photographing the dogs & cats at local shelters for years now. I love doing it and being able to contribute into these precious souls. I’ve even ended up fostering dogs that I fell for throughout the process and I choose dogs who’ve had little exposure and who have been at the shelter the longest, this way I can really do some neat things with them photography-wise in my home and they finally get the publicity they deserve. The longest we’ve ever had a dog after I photographed it was one month compared to years of sitting in a kennel. Very rewarding!
    If you choose to benefit a shelter be sure to post the images in your portfolio with a blurb such as “adopt don’t shop!”…. You’ll be bringing the desperation of shelter dogs to light while showing your clients how you give back to the community. This creates a strong bond between you and your town’s citizens.

  • June 17, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    We have an organization of ohotographers here vpcalled Little Blessings where the NICU at UC Davis children’s hospital calls our network to schedule a photo session in the hospital with a family that has a baby that is not expected to leave the hospital. If the family wants photos with the baby or a sick child, then the call goes out to our network and one of us goes out and does the session, usually immediately at no cost. It’s super hard sometimes to corral your emotions, but it truly speaks to the power of photography and how it can preserve a memory and is so important to people.

  • June 17, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    I volunteer for the Tiny Footprints Project – an organizations that takes photographs of babies in the NICU (www.thetinyfootrpintsproject.com). I also volunteer my time at an after prom event for the local High School and donate a couple of sessions a year to high school seniors in need.

  • June 17, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I am a remembrance photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to sleep. If any of you need a place to volunteer I highly recommend this as a service to your community. Please check out their website at nowilaymedowntosleep.org

  • June 17, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    Great great article. Thanks for the awesome and heart warming ideas

  • Kathy
    April 22, 2015 at 8:36 PM

    LOVE these ideas and what a great way to make a difference with photography! As soon as I can improve my skills, I want to help the local animal rescue center near me.

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