The Charitable Camera with Fred Bonilla

Every year, one of our readers, Fred Bonilla, graces us with an article on giving back using the power of photography. We always look forward to it, and we hope you do to.
Click on the links and watch the videos.
The sales have been raging. You probably got what you wanted.
Now it’s time to give a bit back.

    Acts of Photographic Charity 2012 by Fred Bonilla

In my 4th annual holiday article for Photoinduced, I’ll be highlighting events and organizations that we can assist with our photographic talents (and spare equipment) for those in economic,emotional and spiritual need this holiday season and also make you aware of 2 organizations whose educational efforts to underprivileged children both here in the U.S. and abroad need our help and attention.

As a native New Yorker who lived for many years in Chelsea, my heart was broken by the damage & devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to much of the city, especially the Far Rockaway section of Queens & the borough of Staten Island. While Help Portrait, whose world wide event of taking portraits of those that are in need will occur in locations all over the US & in over 60 nations worldwide on December 8th, there will be a special effort to help over 200 families affected by Hurricane Sandy in the New York City area the following Saturday (December 15th). In the video below, HP founder Jeremy Cowart explains the work of Help Portrait and the special undertaking for the hurricane victims.

If you would like to participate in a local chapter for the December 8th event, you can get information at www.help-portrait.com. Or go to www.hpsandy.com to assist or contribute in the Hurricane Sandy effort on December 15th.

If you’d like another way to help Hurricane Sandy victims (and cop some great print swag at the same time) then you’d want to check out a project that’s co-sponsored by Jen Berkman & Time Magazine called “Art For Sandy Relief” The Berkman Gallery has collaborated with Time’s photo editors to offer 12 limited edition photos from the likes of Eugene Richards, Stephen Wilkes, Arlene Gottfried & more with proceeds to go to 6 local charities that will be assisting on the ground directly with the hurricane victims.

Being part of the photo retail trade (and as a photographer) for over 30 years, I’ve found that the most fulfilling part of my job has been educating my customers not only the correct use of their gear but the magic of photography with it’s power to touch and inspire both subject and photographer. The 2 next charities that I will highlight involve themselves in teaching photography to those in need, with 2 different approaches.

First off,Fine Art photographer Betsy Chesler founded the Cameras For Kids Foundation in 2009 to address the needs of the needs of children living without parents. (Worldwide, there are 146 million children living in foster care and in the United States alone, there are currently over 500,000.) Having volunteered in a number of orphanages in South Africa ,that experience allowed her to shape CFKF to make a difference in the lives of the abandoned children by exposing teens to the process of creating art through a camera’s lens. CFKF uses photography to capture participant’s imaginations, to empower them, build confidence, self-esteem and open a whole new world for them to visualize and create. Speaking to Betsy this week, she stated that the best way to help her work would be through donations of any size that can be made safely on the site’s “donate” page.

Quoting Betsy, she said that “Each donation helps to ensure that one more deserving and enthusiastic child can participate in our unique photography program. Our program fosters self-esteem, self-confidence and offers the teens a skill set….ALL A GIFT FOR LIFE! “ Through workshops with children in different cities in the US (and having done a workshop earlier this year in Haiti), as well as fine art exhibits of some of the children’s work, CFKF hopes to expand this work and outreach in the coming year. CFKF has spoken to groups in several other countries that are interested in the program as well. For more information on CFKF or to contribute, please go to www.camerasforkidsfoundation.org

On the other hand, Colby Brown started The Giving Lens last year as a tangible way to bring teams of photographers together to teach photographers to children in developing nations and making a difference with both their hands and their hearts while learning the magic of photography. The Giving Lens starts by forming a relationship with an NGO in a developing country,and while getting to know them & listening to their plight, they come up with a plan and mission to assist them in a lasting and uplifting way. While including photographic education,it can also include wildlife preservation and other vital issues. The result is a team of photographers that become active advocates of the area they serve and not only better photographers but better people as well. 2013 workshops will take place in Nicaragua, Jordan,Peru and other locations.

If an active involvement in helping those in need overseas interests you, please go to thegivinglens.com for more information.

2012 seems to be a watershed year for the active participation of photographers worldwide in the advocacy of those among in need. While I highlight these particular charities, many more are active in assisting including organizations I’ve mentioned in previous articles like Rehabilitation Through Photography and Do1Thing. It hits home particularly this year when some of my fellow New Yorkers are still without power or heat (or even displaced from their homes) more than a month after Sandy hit. An act or kindness and charity, no matter how small matters more than one can ever imagine, and I urge my fellow Photoinduced readers and friends to take part and allow yourselves to witness the joy of giving of our talent and art to others.

My sincere thanks to Damon for again giving me an opportunity to share this with you and my deepest wishes to one and all for a blessed & happy holiday season. God Bless.

And thank you Fred, for always coming through with the good word.

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