Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Photo Philanthropy at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and Crossroads


I spent my college spring break in Santa Fe, New Mexico taking a course on photo philanthropy called “Crossroads Santa Fe: Where Photography and Philanthropy Meet.” The primary instructors were Brenda Berry and David Middleton, both from Crossroads Photographic Workshops.

This was a different type of photo workshop from the ones I’ve taken in the past.  As David said in class, this isn’t about taking the pretty picture, the calendar photo.  What it was about was working with non-profit organizations to provide great photos they could use in their promotional literature and website. 

As a college professor, I found the idea fascinating.  I teach Photoshop, among other business and i.t. classes.  I could teach Photoshop as a boring cookbook “do steps one to seven” class, but I think it is more fun for the students to be able to apply what we are learning to their own work.  I’ve thought we could find non-profits locally, allowing students to improve their Photoshop and photography skills, and doing good for non-profits!  I’ve already done some unofficial work locally with the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and the local Horses Help.  At Paradise Valley Community College, we call it service learning. 

What did I learn in the workshop that I can share with students?  Many non-profits have no money for promotion or professional photography.  Most would be overjoyed to have photos taken and contributed to them.  In addition to the Relay for Life and Horses Help, I’m sure I could contact United Way to find even more non-profits who would love to have photos. 

You rarely if ever get paid doing this kind of work.  The payoff is in doing good with your camera and having a chance to hone your skills.  Who knows?  If you do a good job, you could get a recommendation for a paying gig!  Plus, here’s another one I hadn’t thought of:  you can get a tax deduction for “in kind services.”  Every 501c3 non-profit can write you a receipt for your work. 


Once you find a non-profit, David and Brenda said you should find out what they want.  What they want in photos may not be exciting or win any awards.  For instance, a representative of Santa Fe’s Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary came to our class and mentioned how proud they were of a new handrail.  Yes, a handrail.  Well, that was important to them and their contributors, so we had to make sure we had various photos of the handrail!  We went back several days as a group to make sure we got photos of that handrail.



As a team, we came up with a shot list after hearing from the Audubon official.  We developed several “buckets” that we would fill.  Obviously, the handrail was on the list.  David and Brenda taught something they called “Visual Grammar” to tell a story.  First, the establishing shot.  It gives context to where we are at.  Secondly, is a middle ground shot where you step in a bit closer without any sky.  Third you get the details and get close up.  For instance, with the hand rail, we used a shot of a person’s hand on the handrail. 



I use a Canon 5D Mark III.  I was very glad I brought the Canon wide angle lens, the 17-40mm.  It’s a great lens for wide establishing shots outside and indoors, especially in cramped quarters.  This was quite useful inside the Randall Davey house, which is on the Audubon property.  For some portraits and middle shots, I used the Canon 24-105mm, which was my main go-to lens.  One I wish I had brought was the Canon 70-200mm to get bird shots.

The second “client” we had this week was the Nature Conservancy, located next to the Audubon center in Santa Fe.  We went through several visits and built a shot list, then filled each of the “buckets” with photos. 

What I found was to do this job right, you have to visit the site a few times.  It’s rare to get all the shots you want in one visit, especially if you have never seen the place before.  Morning light is different from afternoon light is different from sundown light. 



Next up for me is shooting the Cave Creek Rodeo again, then the North Valley Relay for Life located on the Paradise Valley Community College campus.

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!



...and here are some of my photos from Santa Fe!