Just like paintings, photographs are incredibly powerful means of expression that can capture from the beauty of nature & the complexity of the human spirit, to the scenes that started revolutions and wars and the impact of a kind gesture.
Anyone who’s ever looked at iconic photos like The Afghan Girl or Starving boy and missionary, or the one of a little pup at the Mexico parade and other iconic photos must have felt that strong emotional sensation one single image can give you. For some people it can even change the way they think about life.
A photo taken at the right time can open our eyes to social realities we didn’t even know existed, motivate us to become a part of something bigger, give back to the community, or, simply share what we’ve seen with others to raise awareness. This is why we need to help support non-profits where we can.
We looked at five non-profit photography organizations who are using the power of photography to help educate the public on social issues and contribute to social causes.
1. Silent Images
Founded in 2006, Silent Images is a non-profit photography organization that hires photographers and videographers at low rates or for free and sends them to other nonprofit organizations where their works can raise awareness on various causes such as the homeless children in the United States or the genocide in Darfur. Silent Images has collaborated with NGOs such as, Iris in Cambodia, Care for Aids and Freedom Global, and donated more than $75,000 from the sales of exhibits and book sales. Their team of photographers and videographers are committed to using the power of photography to educate and inspire and post regularly about the stories behind their works on their website.
2. Positive Exposures
Positive Exposures is a non-profit photography organization founded in 2011 whose aim is to create media projects and then provide them to charitable organizations free of charge. Thus, these NGOs can raise awareness on their cause using creative storytelling to attract more volunteers. The team behind Positive Exposures are aware of the budget constraints that non-profit organizations usually have to cope with and how there is very little, if any revenue left for media projects, which is precisely the mission of this NGO: to assist charitable organizations for free and allow them to use the power of creative storytelling without worrying about fees. Positive Exposures collaborates with NGOs based on their mission statement and social message: Mdzananda Animal Clinic in South Africa, Las Mariposas in Guatemala or the Santi School Project in Nepal are just some of the organizations for which Positive Exposures has created compelling, documentary-style media projects.
3. Photographers Without Borders
Photographers Without Borders helps grassroots NGOs by connecting visual storytellers. Basing their mission on the UN sustainable development goals, PWB have worked with 175 storytellers since their launch in 2013 and addressed all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals in over 35 countries. Some of their partners include Google, Aeroplan and the Centre for Social Innovation and in 2017 alone they completed 40 projects and enjoyed a 10% increase in revenue compared to the previous year. In addition to being present in various local communities, Photographers Without Borders also have an active online presence through their website and social media pages.
4. Project Exposure
Project Exposure was established by photographer Tim Ryan to connect NGOs and professional photographers. All the funds received by the NGO are sent to other organizations, who use them to pay travel expenses for photographers. They work pro-bono outside the United States, in countries like Guatemala, to raise awareness on social issues and disadvantaged communities. Project Exposure also collaborates with donors and sponsors to help create outstanding visual media projects that act as a call to action to audiences. They provide funds of up to $1,000.00 for photographers’ travel expenses outside the U.S. and also raises funds from donors. Project Exposure is a certified 501(c)(3) non-profit organization as recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.
5. The Giving Lens
The Giving Lens is a non-profit organization that promotes a different approach to travel photography. Those who go on a workshop with The Giving Lens can experience a unique cultural and social situation and document the work of a grassroots non-profit in the area. Participants learn the ropes of travel photography and use it to discover new cultures and communities. Founded in 2010 by landscape, travel and humanitarian aid photographer and photo educator, Colby Brown, The Giving Lens has so far been present on all continents and brought together numerous photographers and NGOs. Using photo education as a humanitarian act, they are one of the fastest growing non-profit photography organizations and they are recruiting new personnel. Upcoming trips planned by The Giving Lens will focus on projects in Cambodia, South America, Guatemala and Australia.