10 Ways to Do Good With Your Camera

10 Ways to Do Good With Your Camera

Photographers have a special skill that allows them to capture the world in ways others can't, and your images can make a big difference in a lot of ways. Here are 10 ways to do good with your camera.

A good photo can often be all the difference a cause needs, and with nonprofits and charities commonly running on shoestring budgets, they are often desperately in need of a photographer. Just to be clear: this is not the same as giving away your talent and services to those who can afford it. Rather, this list is about those deserving organizations and causes who can really use the help of a talented photographer. 

1. Animal Shelters

It doesn't have to be complicated. Just getting a pet out of the stressful shelter environment and taking a happy, straightforward photo is a huge step up.

Animal shelters are regularly overworked, understaffed, and underfunded. This means the adoptable animals are often only shown through a quick phone snap taken by the staff, showing them scared inside a cage or behind a fence. It has been shown that animals with nice images are adopted at higher rates, and it does not take much to make a vastly improved photo that shows just how wonderful a shelter dog or cat is. And what can be better than spending an afternoon taking photos of a bunch of cute dogs and cats to help them find their forever home?

Check out One Picture Saves a Life or give your local animal shelter a call for more. 

2. Give a Child Cancer Patient a Portrait Session

The Gold Hope Project provides free portrait sessions to pediatric cancer patients. As they put it:

Many families with ill children are emotionally, physically and financially strapped; it is the heart of The Gold Hope Project to take at least one worry off their shoulders and gift them something magical — the smiles of their children frozen in time.

These portrait sessions are a fantastic way to give families a ray of light during a trying time. Find out more here

3. Operation: Love Reunited

This charity helps connect the families of deployed or soon-to-be deployed military personnel with photographers. Photographers provide the families with a portrait session prior to or during deployment or upon homecoming. An album of prints gets sent to the deployed person as well. You can find out more here.

4. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

The loss of a newborn baby is an unspeakable tragedy for any parent. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep provides remembrance portraits of the few moments parents get to spend with their children, which are then retouched into black and white images, giving families an important memory. The organization needs both photographers and retouchers. You can learn more here

5. Mentoring

Introduce a child to the joy of photography.

A lot of organizations that mentor youths focus on building connections through commonly shared activities that the mentor is an expert in. Photography is a fantastic common experience and a wonderful way for children and teenagers to learn how to express themselves. And if you have an old, unused camera laying around, giving it to a child who can learn the joys of photography with it is a wonderful way to give it a second life. I recommend contacting local mentoring organizations and seeing what opportunities are available. 

6. Help a Child Be Adopted 

There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States alone, and on average, a child waits over three years before they find an adoptive family with whom to call home. Heart Gallery aims to bring awareness to the hundreds of thousands of children waiting to be adopted. Volunteer photographers take portraits of children within the foster care system to help them be placed with a permanent family. There are over 80 Heart Galleries across the country, so finding one near you is usually easy, and if there is not one, the organization encourages you to start your own. You can find out more about Heart Gallery here.

7. Create Portraits of a Child With a Life-Threatening Illness

The Tiny Sparrow Foundation uses a network of professional photographers to hold portrait sessions for children with life-threatening illnesses. Once you upload the images, the foundation creates an album that is then gifted to the family. You can find out more here.

8. Donate a Print

This can be a great way to make a difference if you do not have the time to donate your services but still want to use your skills to help a charity. Charities are always looking to raise funds, and a common way of doing this is by holding auctions of goods and services donated by local professionals. Photo prints tend to be quite popular in these auctions, as people are always looking for art to hang in their homes, and as such, they appeal to a wide audience. Try finding a favorite organization or two and asking if they could use a print for such a fundraiser.

9. Documentation

Find something that matters to you and document it.

People can't care about things they do not know exist, and photographers are some of the best people out there for documenting the existence of an issue or worthwhile cause in a meaningful and powerful way. If there is something you care about that is not getting enough attention, bring more awareness to it through your camera and a blog post, and recruit friends, family, and those who care about the cause to share the post far and wide to spread the word. No matter how general or specific the cause, you can bring meaningful attention to it with your photography skills.

10. Find a Cause or Charity You Care About and Get Involved

Most smaller charitable organizations run on very tight budgets and can't afford to pay for professional images, often resorting to simple cell phone photos taken by staff untrained as photographers. And yet, good images are crucial to their work. They often do not need much; just well-composed and lit shots taken by a knowledgeable photographer will normally be noticeably better and hugely appreciated by the organization. If you have a favorite cause or local charity, try reaching out to them and asking if they can use your skills.

Your Favorites

Do you have any favorite charities you donate your photographic talents to? Share them in the comments! 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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It says everything one needs to know about Fstoppers' readership that there have been no comments on this one.

Er, there has. Yours.

What can one know about anyone from that?

Mr. Tarpason might I suggest to combat negative with positive instead of more negative. Prove mr Kovacks wrong by talking about what good things you will do with your camera instead of making a judgement about him.

Be more like how Jesus wanted is to live! What will you do positive with pictures? I am going to start by taking pictures at my animal shelter. I’m not to good yet but they get what they pay for (which will be free haha!).

With love.

'Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.' Matthew 6:1

Very true! I’m glad you found Jesus!

“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”
Luke 17:3

Sorry I thought that was Matthew first

Matthew 12:46-50

Mr terror son you changed your post. You judged mr kovacks by saying “and the nature of your post says everything we have To know about you” which was mean. Im glad you changed your post but you should apologize instead for making a big judgement And not hide your statement. Thanks!

I realized my original post was just as bad as Mr. Kovacs comment and so changed it. Had he noticed the original and said something about it, I would have explained myself, as I am now. Thanks for interceding.

You’re welcome!

Ignore that Alfonse troll. Probably some antisocial teenager who thinks he's super clever for using an old dude's pic.

I wish I was that young! But no, I’m a “old dude” like you say. Please don’t call me names or make assumptions: it is hurtful. Thanks!

Where is your picture, Mr. Doe? We would all love to see the thing we are talking to!

I can help you put up a picture of you want: my nieces and nephews showed me how.

I understand but think neither young nor old. He's trying to be heard, as are we all. The only difference is the quality of our messages which, if obvious, requires no elaboration and if obscure, does little harm.

Look at his responses elsewhere. He trolled a bunch of us for downvoting a comment of his (went on a rant and called us racists for doing so), and literally pulled a "who's misses. 13" response to someone's comment on MS-13. He also complained when I called I'm a troll before, saying his name isn't "troll" and going on about respect -yet he mocked your name twice in a row in this thread.

I understand you're trying to see the potential good in him, but regardless of this individual's age and accuracy of his profile pic, I think he is playing off that inclination most people have to see the good in someone to mess with them.

Mr doe please breathe and relax and stop being so interested in me. You disagreed with me saying racism is bad. If you disagree that racism is bad than you must think it is good. You tried to explain but got really preterbed with me and callled me names. You are lost.

You call me names and abuse me and try to make people hate me. I can’t help if you are so angry even though I try to talk with you. I hope you find love and happiness but from how you yell at me I can tell I can’t help you. I hope you find happiness.

"A snake speaks with a forked tongue" - you say things that appear nice on the surface, but have entirely different meanings in the context of your behavior. Up until this reply, I haven't been the one calling you names (my observation on your age is accurate and the way you take it out of context implies more that you struggle with communication than anything).

I'm simply disgusted by your behavior. You literally called Mr. Terason a few names on this very page, yet you show absolutely zero self awareness for your behavior while simultaneously demanding others apologize for every minor offense to your own sense of morality as it only applies when your'e on the receiving end.

I grew up with someone afflicted with your particular brand of whatever it is that makes you so hypocritical and pedantic - and she made my life a living hell. I'm more than happy to be less than pleasant to you as a result.

Stop harassing others and I'll be more than happy to leave you alone. Keep saying you aren't doing things that you are and you can expect more replies from me.

Please stop abusing me and calling me disgusting. I have problems typing and I sometime misspell words and the machine fixes them and I try to type them back but it doesn’t work. I am sorry for misspells of mr Terason but his name is not on my computer.

You say I judge others but you call me a devil and a troll and threaten to follow me until I stop talking the way you want me to? You are a bully and I am getting very scared that you will try to do me harm. Please I am begging you to stop attacking me.

This is a article on how to be good with a camera. You show nothing but hate and anger. I will pray for you but that is all because you are very lost and sad. God be with you and please fix your broken soul.

My responses are directly to you. I didn't call you disgusting - I said you were behaving in a disgusting manner.

I never called you a devil, and calling you a troll fits with internet lingo. I never threatened to follow you, nor am I attacking you. This in and of itself makes it sound like you have some sort of paranoid personality.

You have absolutely no right to say things like people "need to relax", are "lost", and "[need to] fix their broken souls" in response to what has been said to you - this willingness to cross lines of yours strongly implies some sort of severe social disorder.

See, doesn't it feel bad when someone responds to you in the manner you have been speaking to everyone for a few days now?

Not like you're remotely capable of introspection, of course. I think your prior posts prove this.

You are a bad man. A hurtful man. Please stop doing me harm on purpose. You are threatening me and saying that you will follow me and attack me wherever I go. I am begging you, even tho you are lost to stop it.

This response of yours is just outright absurd. Did you even read anything I just said or are you going to escalate all on your own? Calling me a "bad man" and saying that I'm "doing you harm" when I responded with a clear explanation of what you're doing to provoke is more than just insulting; it's pretty obvious that you're literally enjoying playing a card and pushing things while pretending to be hurt. This is the exact behavior I'm talking about - it's just beyond twisted.

Do you even realize what you're doing here? Are you going to even try to?

Please stop it! Please make it stop!

Stop what exactly? Responding to you at all? Painting what I'm doing in a negative light doesn't change the nature of a logical response to your illogical insults.

Stop threatening to follow me here calling me names and hurting me on purpose when I pleaded with you to stop! So mean to me! You are abusing me. Please mr doe stop!

I'm not doing that. My last response wasn't even remotely mean, and a number of other responses of mine were stricter than perhaps you like but weren't mean either. Your willingness to accuse and saying I'm abusing you is rather "mean", to borrow a term.

While we're assessing cruelty, why don't you explain why the majority of your comments have been negative remarks about other people that come in the form of condemnations of their personalities and/or souls, in your own words?


Funny, I've been reporting you for the past two days. This claim that I'm attacking you by responding at all is proof that you're the one who's actually being abusive.

I'm curious to see how many others have reported you.

You are a bad person.

Stop projecting and get help.


Thank you for understanding. I know I am not hip and as book smart as some people but I am trying to talk and show love. People on this page can be very cruel and even though we do not agree I am thankful you are not being mean to me. I hope I am not being mean to you. If I am I am sorry. Always with love, Alfie

Either you are obtuse (which seems more likely from your reference to scripture) or a troll; either way, you just managed to reinforce my biases.

I imagine everything reinforces your biases.

Such awesome wit!

Please both of you. This was supposed about how photography can be for you. You are bring anger and hate. Please learn to love. And mr doh please stop making aassumings about me. You don’t know me and you are filled with hate. You are sad and I hope you find somebody to give you love even if you can’t love yourself. You must get better. Please.

With love

These are beautiful ideas. If I was younger I would do them all! I thought cameras were only for pictures but this shows me they can be very much more. Thanks!

What kind of selfie-stick would you recommend for taking this picture?

What’s a selfie stick?

I think you would enjoy the Mpow Selfie Stick, Lightweight Extendable 31.9 Inch Monopod with Bluetooth Remote! It's sold on Amazon. It's very positively reviewed, too! :)

Even I could make it work and I took the nicest picture of myself in fifty years.

Great to hear!

Thank you for this. I had no idea I could do any of this.

Thats great Mr. Zubal! Hope you have fun doing all this good with your pictures!