The Season Of Goodwill

24 Dec 2014
This week it's just going to be a short post as I'm busy with family over the Christmas period. I wanted to think of a seasonal theme for the topic, but if I'm honest I don't have a lot to say about Christmas, so I decided to write about goodwill instead.
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This year, I've looked to develop a relationship with West Coast Challenge who raise money for a number of good causes.
(I'm not the only photographer who has helped them so only some of the photos you'll see on their site are mine)
As photographers we have the ability to make a real difference with our work, and when you can do that you will naturally wonder what good you can do with it too. For me that comes in the form of doing free work for local good causes, though many portrait photographers offer more personal gifts for those most in need. What I do makes best use of my skills as a commercial photographer.

This isn't necessarily just for photographers though, everyone has some capacity to help out in some way. I have registered with the Cumbria Council for Voluntary Services, to allow them to find people who could benefit from some free photography, and there are similar organisations all over the country who maintain a register of volunteers.

Despite what people may think, it isn't simply a case of making yourself available and then preparing for the avalanche of work to come your way, in many ways finding people you can help is as difficult as finding paying clients. The fact you are prepared to work for free can in fact make your work seem less valuable, and something such as a photo-shoot, even though you're doing it for free, will require some time commitment from the organisation you're doing it for.

The other thing is that, whether it seems mean-spirited to say so or not, working for good causes can be good for business; often the reason companies sponsor charities is for the marketing opportunity, or at least that plays some part in the decision. So expect yourself to be competing with other photographers for work; particularly where the outcome of the work will be publicity and good portfolio material for yourself. Be prepared not to judge or expect to get the eye-catching voluntary work, as it can be just as rewarding providing some small benefit for an organisation who do good work but get very little press because their area isn't as glamourous as others.

One final tip for photographers. Be prepared to offer a zero-balance invoice. This is an invoice for the value of the work (what it would have cost to a paying customer) with an additional item on it that cancels the balance off. This is good for a charity's records as it allows them to place a value on the donation, and may even help them obtain further funding as many public bodies and sponsors will match-fund a charity's donations.

That's it from me until after Christmas, I'll make a post between Christmas and New Year on the topic of new year's resolutions, so have a merry Christmas, remember to take some time off work and overindulge.

Blog Self Portrait
Articles about photography, tips and tricks, insights into the world of commercial photography and the marketing industry from a photographer's perspective, and the occasional humorous rant. Brought to you by Will McAllister, a commercial photographer based in God's own county of Cumbria.