Giving Tuesday is the day after Cyber Monday, which is the first weekday after Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving. Having a hard time keeping up? It’s okay. What matters is this:
that we begin and end with gratitude and giving.
Pour yourself an eggnog margarita (or just a regular cuppa joe), and read on. We’ll show you how seven photographers are giving back year-round – and how you can join their causes.
In 2011, photographer Colby Brown had an idea: to reimagine travel photography tours to positively impact communities. That’s when he connected with Kate Siobhan Mulligan, a travel, editorial, and NGO photographer. “Colby and I had both taken meaningful trips where we left heart-heavy because we gained so much, but felt like we had nothing to give back,” shares Kate. As they brainstormed solutions, Colby and Kate both reached a conclusion: “Photography is such a powerful tool for expression, regardless of language, education, or socioeconomic status. With that,” Kate explains, “The Giving Lens came into shape. We’ve been running amazing trips ever since!”
The Giving Lens: A Travel Experience Like No Other
Today, The Giving Lens hosts travel photography tours in partnership with local, grassroots NGOs. The travelers document the community and its needs, then donate the images to the trip’s partner NGO. They also set aside time during each trip to teach photography to the community members.
“In Tanzania, we work with school children and the Masai before heading off on safari,” describes Kate. “When we’re in Cambodia, we work with at-risk youth while we trek in and around Angkor Wat. And in Cuba, we work with skateboarders in-between (or alongside!) photo-walks around Havana and beyond.”
Through these experiences, travelers learn appropriate travel ethics and how to respectfully document human struggle.
The Giving Lens: Travel with a Purpose
After each trip, The Giving Lens donates more than their images. They also leave behind a collection of cameras, and contribute a cash fund to their partner NGO.
“We think photography is a form of therapy for many. It allows what is hard to say, to be said,” explains Kate. “It has a real impact, and we see it firsthand – the joy and heartache of the process, the pride at the results, and the power of a single image.”
Be part of The Giving Lens – on Giving Tuesday and everyday!
“After losing my daughter to a terminal illness, I realized: there is so much disconnect in relationships when people are hurting,” says Ashley Jones, Love Not Lost founder and executive director. “Love Not Lost is on a mission to revolutionize the way we grieve.”
“When people face loss, grief, and other hard emotions, the last thing they need is to be alone, unloved, or abandoned,” Ashley emphasizes. “Even though some of our family’s friends disappeared, a lot of people showed up and loved us. One friend gifted us a professional portrait session with Tessa Marie Studios, and our prints created a tangible, safe space for me to grieve, feel, and heal. There was no judgement, fear, or expectation within those photos. They let me hold my daughter when she wasn’t here to hold. They helped me heal more than anything else did. That’s why I started Love Not Lost – to give that gift to others.”
Love Not Lost: Touching Entire Communities
For families facing loss and grief, Love Not Lost provides a professional portrait session and album at no cost. They also host weekend retreats where their photographers learn self-care and receive empathy training. Reaching further into the community, Love Not Lost offers a resource called How Can I Love You Better, as well as a corporate care program emphasizing grief and empathy training in the workplace.
Love Not Lost volunteer, Bre Sessions:
“Volunteering for Love Not Lost was an opportunity to give back something that had been so generously given to my family. When my daughter was first diagnosed with cancer, my dear friends The Scobeys gifted us a family session. Later, when she was in the hospital and I knew she wasn’t going to make it, another photographer friend came and took some of the last photos we have of her with us. These photos mean the world to me, and I’m so grateful that I had talented friends I could reach out to in my moment of need. I realize not everybody is fortunate to have a pool of photographers to call anytime they need something, but through Love Not Lost, we can gift that opportunity to people who need it.” – Bre Sessions Photography
Love Not Lost volunteer, Madison Hernandez:
“With Love Not Lost, I am able to take something as simple as a family photo session and use it as a vessel to provide an ounce of normalcy to families who are facing immense grief. These photo sessions result in beautiful, finished images that are printed into heirloom albums. The images are sacred in a way – a visual representation of love, honor, and remembrance.” – Madison Hernandez Photography
Love Not Lost volunteer, Patrick Marcigliano:
“I was slowly moving into photography as a career and looking for a way to use my talent – not just for my livelihood, but as way to help. I can’t always give money, but my time and talent are available. When I heard about Love Not Lost, I knew this was the opportunity for me. It’s a small, easy way to help and love on others, but the rewards are so big and long lasting. I love being a part of it!” – Patrick Marcigliano Photography
Be part of Love Not Lost – on Giving Tuesday and everyday!
ShootProof is honored to provide complimentary galleries to Love Not Lost.
“I have a really weird niche where I photograph dogs in action…” Photographer Bart Brinkmann’s sense of humor is evident from the start – and humor is necessary when working with some of nature’s silliest souls. “I love photographing dogs living their best lives, with smiles on their faces,” says Bart.
Bart’s subjects aren’t just any dogs, however. He photographs rescue dogs – and his whole family supports his efforts. “We’ve got two awesome rescue dogs of our own,” he shares, “and I’ve worked with a lot of talented rescue and foster dogs. Whether they’re running after a ball, catching a disc in mid-air, or jumping over a log on a forest trail, I love to capture their intensity and joy!”
Whisker Tango Foxtrot: Helping Desperate Dogs Find a Forever Home
Bart’s photography promotes rescue dogs in two ways. First, his energy-packed photographs help increase each foster dog’s odds of getting adopted. Second, since most rescue dogs are mixed-breeds, Bart’s images demonstrate that mixed-breed pups can be just as wonderful as their purebred cousins.
“In my city alone, we have hundreds of awesome mixed-breed dogs of all ages, shapes, and sizes looking for homes,” shares Bart. “They’re just as healthy and intelligent as purebred dogs, but they’re fighting a stigma that’s attached to shelter dogs.” The stigma may exist, but Bart – and other photographers like him – are shifting those assumptions, one good doggo at a time.
Be part of Whisker Tango Foxtrot – on Giving Tuesday and everyday!
“We strengthen families living through childhood cancer by offering restorative retreats and helpful resources.” This is the calling of Lighthouse Family Retreat, a faith-based organization dedicated to supporting some of the 15,000 families each year who learn their child has cancer.
Lighthouse Family Retreat: Help and Healing for Families in Need
Photographer Sara D. Harper attends Lighthouse Family Retreat events each year. Her mission: to give love-filled photography sessions to guest families, and to provide marketing images to the organization itself. These images are treasured dearly by each family wrestling with an unknown future, and beautifully complement the respite efforts of Lighthouse Family Retreat.
Sara’s photographs document the healing week of “deep rest, relational connection, great laughter, and palpable kindness” to retreat attendees. Beginning with the first gathering in 2000, Lighthouse Family Retreat promotes lifelong friendships among families in dire need of a safe space to explore their faith and feelings in the wake of devastating news.
Be part of Lighthouse Family Retreat – on Giving Tuesday and everyday!
ShootProof is honored to provide complimentary galleries to Lighthouse Family Retreat.
“It all started with wanting to give people free photo sessions during difficult times and life-threatening illnesses. And it grew from there!” says photographer Brandy Angel. Since forming Be the Change – Brandy Angel Foundation, Brandy’s team has worked tirelessly to enhance the quality of life for childhood cancer fighters and their families by offering free photo sessions. They’ve also helped kidney disease patients locate living kidney donors, empowered house fire victims by collecting donations from around the country, and more.
Brandy Angel: Photography is Only the Beginning…
“Through the generosity of amazing local vendors, we offer families photo sessions, sports games, meet-and-greets with musicians, makeovers…and we hope this area will continue to grow!” shares Brandy. She personally provides Fantasy Photo Sessions, which give chronically and terminally ill children the opportunity to see themselves as superheroes and magical creatures.
With worldwide recognition from media outlets such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, TIME Magazine, BBC, and countless others, Brandy’s organization is confident: “People truly do want to help others!”
Be part of Be the Change – Brandy Angel Foundation, on Giving Tuesday and everyday!
“I got really lucky,” says photographer Sara Keith. “My grandpa’s hobby was photography, and I learned from him. I want every child to have the same chance I did, so one of my best friends and I started Illuminate Atlanta to bring equality to photography.”
Sara is the president and co-founder of Illuminate Atlanta, as well as the director of the Atlanta School of Photography. “After opening the Atlanta School of Photography, we realized that, although we were doing everything we could to make photography education affordable and accessible, we were still missing a big demographic in Atlanta – mainly kids in underserved communities.”
Illuminate Atlanta: Turning Need Into Service
Sara and her team connected with myriad local organizations who described similar challenges within their photographic arts programming: “We don’t have educators or equipment,” they told Sara. Thus, Illuminate Atlanta was born.
“We provide cameras and instructors to partnering organizations to bring photography education to students across the city,” shares Sara. With generous aid and investments from photographers, photography appreciators, and the giving community at large, Illuminate Atlanta has served alongside such noteworthy organizations as Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Threshold Community Program, and Hillside Atlanta.
Be part of Illuminate Atlanta – on Giving Tuesday and everyday!
ShootProof is honored to provide complimentary galleries to Illuminate Atlanta.
“In 2011, my husband and I packed up all of our belongings and moved from Vancouver, BC, to the Central Highlands of Guatemala.” This is how Heather Alicia Knox and her husband Greg Kemp created Project Somos Children’s Village, an eco-sustainable community aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty in Guatemala by providing quality education and healthy food to families in need.
“We work with Mayan Indigenous families living in extreme poverty,” explains Heather, whose organization provides education, healthy food, and access to dental, psychological, and medical support. “We also provide employment to the mamas of the program’s children.”
Project Somos: A Photographer is Born
From day one, Heather has tirelessly documented Project Somos’ progress, which led her to begin her own study of photography in 2016. “I wanted to better capture and share the stories of the children and families we work with,” Heather tells us. “ShootProof provides online storage for the photos I capture here at Project Somos. The photos allow our donors to see the difference their generosity makes in the lives of these children.”
Project Somos: Volunteerism Beside Volcanoes
The Project Somos Children’s Village is located in a Mayan community of 175 families comprised of 900 people. The Project boasts an organic farm, which sources 60% of the food supply that feeds the program’s children. The Somos children participate in the project’s farm-to-table program by harvesting, washing, and preparing food with the Project Somos cooks and volunteers.
Along with teaching photography to the community’s children, Heather personally makes portraits of the local families. She gifts each family their own framed prints and albums. For most families, these are the only portraits they’ve ever received.
Be part of Project Somos – on Giving Tuesday and everyday!
ShootProof is honored to provide complimentary galleries to Project Somos.
As Giving Tuesday approaches, how will you impact your community for the better?
Share your experiences in the comments below!