Photographers for Charity

We’ve heard time and time again how effective social media is at connecting people; getting our messages out and listening to what people are talking about. But, how many times have we sat and really listened to what someone is trying to say, and discover that they were asking for help; without openly asking?

This is what pretty much happened almost a year ago on social media site Twitter; @JamesHancox had been talking about his passion for photography and his desire to do things for others in the community. His goal was to set up a charity that would do both.

James goal was to establish a charity that would be able to offer photographic services to charities and not-for-profit groups in the community, not just his homenonprofit photography city of Auckland (NZ), but nationally and ultimately globally.

Having been involved in charities and the not-for-profit, I offered to talk with James more about what it was he wanted to do. After a few tweets, emails and txt messages I met with James and we talked about his goal. There was definitely something in his eyes that told me this guy has what it takes to get this off the ground. All he really needed (apart from seeding capital) was the nudge to get it up and running, the encouragement and positive reinforcement that what he had in mind was needed.

After a while James’ passion started to come to life, and it wasn’t long before James’ passion PhotoCharity was born. Through the power of social media he had connected with a graphic designer who worked on the logo, a web designer to put together the website; then the projects started coming in, many of these have come in through social media connections and word of mouth.

Since the inception of Photographers for Charity, James has done a number of projects; and is starting to build a reputation for someone who knows not just what makes a good photograph, but as someone who brings passion to any project; this is truly evident in the work produced to date.

If you’re looking at starting something, perhaps a new service to add to what you already do, or just want to start something from scratch; don’t be afraid to put it out there. You will almost certainly have people in your networks who will help, it’s simple just ask. You may be surprised just how willing people are to help.

It’s important that no matter where we are, what we want to do or what we need, we will never get anything or perhaps anywhere unless we are prepared to ask. Use your social media connections to build, grow and expand what you have now, use it to help develop new projects or events; you will likely be pleasantly surprised at the results that can be achieved.

Interview with James Hancox, Founder of Photographers for Charity

How did the whole idea come about?james hancox

The initial seed was planted whilst I was performing some I.T. work for “Look Good Feel Better” here in Auckland, New Zealand. (Their purpose is to give beauty makeovers to women battling cancer. Something to lift their spirits, and give them a few moments off from the fight. The psychological boost was immeasurable).

I was deeply affected by the work they were doing. A real out-of-the-box idea, that was so simple and so human. I remember thinking “I wonder if they’re getting some professional shots of these courageous women after their make-overs. Something for them, and for the family as well”. At the time though, I was neither a professional photographer, nor had the guts to step up and give it a go. Mostly, I wasn’t sure my idea did enough to help.

Fast forward to 8yrs later… On my birthday in June of 2009, I saw someone discussing charity on Twitter. I jumped into the conversation, and shared my idea (and a few additions I’d had since the initial thought). The response was incredible! Within 30mins, I had 15 professionals, from designers to photographers, offering to help me get my ideas off the ground.

I haven’t looked back since. 10mths later, and a lot of learning, Photographers for Charity now has a solid story and purpose.

Why is this cause close to your heart? Why should other support it?

Many of the charities I initially worked with supported causes very “close to home”. With family and friends having faced (or currently facing) battles with cancer or eating disorders, this was very personal for me.

But, we’re not here to support just one cause, and there’s a couple of deeper ideals behind this that I think speak to all: “Everyone wins” and “Every little bit counts”.

I want people to feel good about helping, and know that they don’t have to give till it hurts for it to matter.

Charitable work can often have deep guilt and negative feeling attached. We’re often drawn to it by tales of sorrow and death in advertising. I ‘d rather that people to see the smiles and laughter that came from doing something for a cause, not just the tears over the reason they needed it. What better way to show it than through photos and video of an event, and to offer proof that “Everyone wins”.

Why should others support us? That’s a tough question to answer, given our purpose is to support others (Much like Socialize Your Cause, who’s helping us here!)

I will say though: If all you can do is help spread our posts, about other charities, online… then you’ve not only supported us, but potentially millions of others. I hope that too will give you a good feeling that you’ve done what you can.

Do you have any other events or fundraisers that you would like others to know about?

As we’re positioned to promote the events and fundraisers of other charities (to collaborate with any that’s working to make life a little easier for others), we do not accept cash donations. It’s a free service offered openly, so we wont be holding events ourselves.

However, there’s hundreds and thousands of others we’d love to talk about! We’ve been doing that so far via our Facebook Fanpage and Twitter accounts, with more to come.

If you could give one photography tip to organizations using pictures to tell their stories, what would it be?

Foremost: Get involved in what you’re shooting.

Don’t stand back with your zoom lens and take great photos from a distance. Get in involved and talk to the people your capturing. You’ll gain perspective that helps you take more engaging shots and, best of all, you’ll have a great time!

Also, most of us have access to the internet, or classrooms, where we can learn all of the technical details of taking a nice photo. I absolutely encourage those starting out to take advantage of them, especially the “CreativeLIVE” initiative. It’s free, online, and headed by some of the most amazingly talented creatives of our time. My personal hero, Chase Jarvis, announced it on YouTube recently (http://bit.ly/9jjlKP).

What advice would you give to others that might like to take on such an amazing endeavor?

I highly recommend doing something that echoes your passions.

You’ll be more motivated to achieve, and you’ll get something out of it too. Another advantage being that you already know how to do it, which makes the learning curve a little less steep.

For me, it was photography for example… it doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing something you love.

Also, speak to others who may already be supporting that cause from another angle. No one expects you to know everything about it if you’re just getting started, but there’s no point doing something that’s already being done, or is not needed. Spend your energy where it’s most needed.

What do you have planned for the future of Photographers for Charity?

photos for charity

I’m ambitiously planning for this to be a global initiative. Not just the photography vehicle, but the deeper concepts behind PfC as well.

We’re not the only initiative of this type either. Others such as the “Free Hugs” campaign have been paving the road toward a more uplifting form of charity. So this is us photographers adding some trees to that highway (and recording it so those without “cars” can still be involved).

I’d love to see local representations of PfC popping up around the world. Sharing the load means we can get a lot more achieved, and also means locals are supporting locals in what they know is needed most in their area.

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