Using Photography for Good: How to Volunteer with Photography

Everyone in this world has a talent. Granted our talents differ from person to person, nonetheless, we each have a gift. Some people are lucky enough to earn a living from their talent; doing exactly what they love. For others, they simply embrace their talent as a hobby. No matter how you use your gift, I believe there’s always a way to give back to your community with the special talents you’re given. There are many ways our gifts can be used to uplift our communities and the people in them. For those of you who have the gift of photography, here are eight ways to get you started on the path of giving back.


1.     Animal shelters.

Many animals need loving forever homes, and nothing makes a potential family fall in love with an animal like a cute, professional portrait. Shelters are often overwhelmed with animal intake. Employees and volunteers spend their days providing well needed care to the animals. Most often, they cannot stop to take  high-quality photos for every animal they come across. Additionally, not every shelter already have staff or volunteers with the skills needed to take these photographs. Now, that’s where you come in. Volunteer to take portraits of the animals for a few hours and give the shelter your high-quality photos to use on the animal’s profile. This will help get those pets adopted.

Consider bringing along a friend or two to be “animal wranglers” to help speed up the process by bringing you a steady stream of animals to photograph. Cute toys, bows, or bandanas can also help the pet look more welcoming and ready to take home. To start volunteering, contact your local shelters to see if they would like help taking professional, adorable photos to get more animals adopted!

Cute, professional photos can help animals get adopted faster.

Cute, professional photos can help animals get adopted faster.

1.     Discounted Sessions

Some photographers choose to give back by offering discounted sessions to different groups of people. This can include teachers, first responders, or the military, for example. They enrich our lives daily through their service,  so why not offer a little token of appreciation back to them? The discount doesn’t have to break the bank – ten percent off is a kind gift to those who serve us and our communities. Of course, you can set the discount at any rate you choose – some photographers do a dollar amount off or offer extra time in their session instead. Select groups of people who go above and beyond for us or those you know might not be able to afford a professional session otherwise but could do with it; like single parents for example.

2.     Schools

Small schools often do not have the budget to hire a photographer for school picture day – think preschools or schools with a few hundred kids or less. If you have a portable studio setup and a child in the school, you could volunteer to take the photos for free and deliver them as softcopies only. Additionally, you can decide to sell them as prints depending on the school and situation. Be careful though – this is a huge project even for small schools. Make sure you know your equipment and can take consistent, studio-quality photos of small, squirmy kids and then deliver them all afterwards. If you’re up for the challenge, I know the other parents would really appreciate having the opportunity to have professional quality photos of their little ones! Make sure to work it all out with the school ahead of time so they can advertise picture day and allow parents to opt-out if they wish.

3.     Charity Raffle Prizes

A professional portrait session can make a fantastic prize for a silent auction or raffle prize for charity. It should be pretty easy to find one going on for a cause you care about in your area. For example, the Humane Society in my town is hosting a silent auction and the proceeds go to the animal shelter. I am donating one portrait session as an item to be bid upon. This is not only a great way to give back to a cause you care about, but it’s also wonderful exposure for your photography business! You can have a little setup at the auction tables with sample portraits and your business cards, so that even the people who don’t win can become potential clients. It’s a win-win!

4.     Local Events

Local events happening in your community often won’t have professional photographers unless you volunteer to help. For example, you could volunteer to capture photos for a charity 5k run, local talent show or any other local event. These are great opportunities to give back because you often know the event is happening way in advance, and you can gain some exposure for your own business while helping local organizations. Don’t forget to bring your business cards!

Local events looking for social media photos or coverage can really appreciate your talents.

Local events looking for social media photos or coverage can really appreciate your talents.

5.     Stillborn photos

This volunteer opportunity is probably the most emotionally difficult one on the list, but it’s still greatly needed. There are several organizations that have professional photographers come in and take photos of a stillborn baby so that the parents can have high-quality photos to remember their child forever. One of the organizations is NILMDTS; there are several other organizations you can volunteer with based on where you live. You can also find out from the local hospital whether they know of any organizations if you struggle to find one in your area.

6.   A Blessing for Someone

Let’s face it – professional photography is a luxury service. I strongly believe that it shouldn’t have to be – everyone deserves high quality photos of themselves and their loved ones to honor their memories forever. However, understandably equipment are highly priced, and photographers need to earn a living. If you know of someone who would love a family portrait session, for example, but likely doesn’t have the budget for it, you can gift them the session as a blessing for them. Remember to treat your gifted sessions just the same as your paying clients, with the added bonus of feeling extra good about it.

7.     Startups or Non-profit portraits

Grassroots or non-profit organizations often need professional portraits for their sites, but they don’t have the budget for it. Similarly to the school volunteering, this is a fantastic way to help out an organization in need while also making business contacts. Choose an organization whose cause you feel passionately about and this won’t even feel like work.


This list is only a starting point for all the good you can do by volunteering with photography. If you are already giving back using your talent, please let us know how so that we can build on this list. I truly believe that you can use your talents for any subject you are passionate about. I know you can find a way to give back with your gift of photography!

What to Wear To An Engagement Session

First of all – CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement!! This is the very beginning of a whole new chapter in your life and I am SO STOKED for you!  

I know you suddenly have a lot to think about (hello wedding blogs!), but I want to help make sure your engagement photo style isn’t something that stresses you out. I’ve created this guide to help you choose outfits you’ll LOVE to look at for years to come!

Now, I can help you with my professional opinion and experience about what looks great on camera, but I really want you to be both yourself and comfortable for your shoot. So, take these tips with a grain of salt and remember to stay true to you. Feel free to contact me with any questions if you have an engagement session with me! I love helping with style choices.

Let’s start with colors. The colors that tend to look best on camera in natural settings are light neutrals; that’s your beiges, light grays, and whites. I’m not saying you can’t have your pop of color! But consider having light neutrals be the main base of your outfit scheme for the two of you.


Their color palettes match without being exactly the same.

Their color palettes match without being exactly the same.

The reason I suggest light neutral colors is because they are the most flattering to your skin when it comes to photography. Sure, you may rock a hot pink dress – but it tends to cast hot pink light on your face which isn’t always a good look! A hot pink skirt with a white top, or a light gray outfit with hot pink shoes or belt would be better to get your color in while still flattering your beautiful faces!

Be careful with patterns on your clothes – sometimes really small patterns (like teeny weeny polka dots) can cause your eyes to “vibrate” and kind of hurt when you look at the photos. If you’re going to wear a pattern, I suggest big and bold ones like florals.

Big patterns look great on camera!

Big patterns look great on camera!

As for silhouettes, you’ll want to wear something you naturally feel comfortable in. If you’re the kind of person to wear a skirt or a dress, now is definitely the time to do it. Dresses give a very feminine, flattering silhouette. Flowy skirts also make for really cool twirling photos!

Nice fitting slacks and crisp button-up shirts also look super sharp for photos and tend to be really flattering. Layering up with shirts, jackets, or vests adds visual interest and is a really nice touch.

Don’t forget to accessorize – the accessories make the shoot all the more editorial and fashionable. Accessories include things like stylish shoes, rings, painted toe and fingernails, necklaces, watches, and bowties.

Accessories can add special meaning or tie the look together.

Accessories can add special meaning or tie the look together.

Now let’s talk about bringing it all together. You two should go together, but not necessarily match. What I mean is – you both don’t have to wear navy bottoms and white tops. Instead, consider one person wearing navy and white and maybe the other wears white and light gray with navy accessories. That way you two will mesh and not clash without looking like twins!

Lastly, you may want to consider bringing props to your engagement session like a bicycle, fresh flowers, or a blanket to sit on in the grass. These items can spruce up your session and make it look even more editorial and stylish. Props can be things that are meaningful to the two of you. If you are unsure, consult your photographer before your shoot.

Props (like her hat) are great additions to a photo session and add variety and interest to the shots.

Props (like her hat) are great additions to a photo session and add variety and interest to the shots.

And that’s it! If you stick to these principles, your photos are sure to come out lovely, fresh, and gorgeous. You’re going to look amazing!