How do you get [in]volved?

Step #1. Check your ego at the door.  If your first urge is to take pictures of someone or something under the guise of photographilanthropy™ so you can blog it and get comments oohing and ahhing over your graciousness (and admit it, we all LOVE comments) then you’re on the wrong track.

Step #2.  Find a cause close to your heart.  Did your father die of a heart attack like mine?  Did you have a child die of SIDS?  Is your best friend a cancer survivor?  Did a trip to a developing or 3rd world country awaken a hatred in you to social inequity?  Are you a single parent or someone who grew up poor and you want others to have the opportunity to experience beautiful photographs?  Are you passionate about animal welfare?  No cause is ever not noble or good enough.  If it inspires you, you’re on the right track.

Step #3. Design a way to get [in]volved.  Whether you want to organize an event, participate in an established one, embark on a journey, or create a project, there is a perfect way for you to be an active part of using your skills and talent for something bigger than yourself.  Whether you volunteer to take photos at the local children’s hospital, offer free coverage of an event, or decide to develop a plan to travel to 60 countries and create a photo book that will be sold to support a cause, if it excites you and gives you focus and drive even if you never receive a penny or a single pat on the back, then you’re good to go.

Step #4. Get permission.  You may have a wonderful idea, but if your participants aren’t willing, then you need to go back to Step #3. and work out the bugs.  For example, you may have the coolest idea on the planet to photograph landed immigrants who have not seen their families for years because their homeland is too dangerous, but you will need to know if a) there are willing participants and b) your participants will be in danger having their portrait published.  You also don’t want to embark on a project that someone else is already working on.  Do your homework and go through proper channels when you need to – you don’t want your [in]volvement to create problems.

Step #5. Do it.  Your project is solid, you have the support and required resources and permission you need.  So, go do it.

Step #6. Keep quiet.  Let your unconditional support of the cause be its own reward.  This isn’t to say that if someone commends you you need to shut them down.  It means that you don’t advertise what you’ve done looking for a pat on the back.  Let your work speak for itself, one life at a time, and you will be amazed how giving… actually becomes receiving.

If you need help organizing or planning something, please send an email to h dot walls at shaw dot ca and I will endeavor to help you evaluate the feasibility, logistics, and potential of your idea.

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