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Photolanthropy: The Power of Giving Back through Photography

By Hannah Pearman, Director of Communications, HeARTs Speak

The ‘Law of Cause and Effect’ states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s the thought-provoking concept that whatever we send into the universe comes back to us — and it’s a concept that seems to run neatly parallel to the arts.


Of all the creative mediums, photography is arguably one of the most efficiently powerful.


Camera-wielding creatives take on the unique and important responsibility of preserving people’s most precious memories, telling stories big and small, and providing communities with windows to information and understanding. And when they decide to incorporate a charitable focus into their business, they can even save lives.


Take the global non-profit HeARTs Speak’s Artists Helping Animals program, for example. Uniting over 600 professional creatives across 21 countries who believe in the power of giving back, the program is modeled on the virtuous cycle — a unique blend of social and creative collaboration that is beneficial for everyone involved, including artists, animals, and organizations.



Giving Back Through Photography


Giving back through photography begins with an artist deciding to provide their creative services to support their community with shelter pet photography, for example. Through that work, they establish a presence for their brand, work for their portfolio, and connections that may become clients down the road.


On the receiving end, their collective efforts have provided life-saving first impressions for hundreds of thousands of homeless animals and inspired an entirely new perspective on pet adoption and animal shelters.



The Benefits of Giving Back


The benefits of giving back as a small business owner or freelance creative are vast and varied and quickly radiate beyond their origin. There are the obvious perks like tax deductions. There’s also the potential for exposure to a new pool of clients, and they’re likely to be people you’ll enjoy working with if you share similar passions. Getting active and joining forces with the doers in your area is a smart way to expand your network, both professionally and personally.


On a grander scale, acts of kindness are appealing to media outlets, so there could be more opportunities for positive press coverage for businesses and creatives aligned with a local cause. Furthermore, when giving back through photography, you’re building your brand on a framework of integrity and generosity — things people feel compelled to invest in. All of these benefits equate to greater organic reach for your work, especially on social media where the feel-good factors are in high demand and celebrated liberally!



The Promise of Warm Fuzzies


Perhaps most importantly, however, there’s the promise of a hefty helping of warm fuzzies. Even small contributions of time or services can make a big difference for a local nonprofit organization, and are returned in the form of huge boost in spiritual and personal reward. Studies have uncovered over and over again that doing good feels good. It decreases stress, promotes good mental health, and leads to increased happiness over time. And word is getting around! Charitable giving has increased among small businesses in past years, with 90% focusing their efforts locally.



Turning a Hobby into a Livelihood


Doing good can even transform a hobby into a livelihood. HeARTs Speak artist member, Rita Earl Blackwell, was new to photography when she started providing portraits for the animals at her local Los Angeles area rescue groups. She repeatedly witnessed the truly lifesaving nature of her work in real time, which further fueled her fire to help.


Concurrently, she had the chance to refine her creative voice and improve her craft in ever-changing and unpredictable environments, making her particularly skilled at responding to creative challenges in the moment. Her willingness to collaborate completely with shelters and her commitment to providing increasingly high-quality shelter pet photos quickly generated a loyal following on social media, and she was catapulted into a career as a professional photographer.


Photography remains one of the most adaptable and accessible mediums, and its ability is vital to the growth of myriad causes. No matter what speaks to your soul, there’s something out there that will welcome you with open arms. Check out this list of ideas for some inspiration on giving back through photography.


Interested in exploring shelter pet photography? Apply to become a part of the Artists Helping Animals program, and join the over 600 artists in 21 countries working to create a world where no shelter animal goes unseen!


This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

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