I’m a professional photographer working mainly in events, live music and theatre, commercial and corporate photography. I’ve done volunteering for most of my working life. I volunteer because I have a wide range of life and business skills which would otherwise go to waste. I also love nothing more than seeing my work being used online or in print and being able to say “I did that”.
I decided to volunteer as a photographer/videographer for Centre for Big Synergy (a Civil Society Organisation of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) because they were doing something that benefitted the wider community. The work itself was also interesting and it was within my area of expertise.
Recording a unique event
Centre for Big Synergy wanted to create more visibility and engagement for their Big Syn International Film Festival (a sustainability film festival). They were screening a promotional film on the big screen in London’s Piccadilly Circus and my role was to capture that unique moment to help them promote the festival and their work. It was an absolute once-in-a-lifetime event. The film played at a specific time, for a specific duration and that was it, no reruns! I was able to give them a record of that unique event that they can use, over and over again, to help present themselves to a wider audience and increase their influence.
It was a really valuable experience. The work was interesting, the people were good to work with and I feel that I played a small yet important part in achieving something good which benefits all of us. As a result of learning about the film festival, I even made and submitted a short film on the theme of sustainability. This has led to me to become more involved in a local sustainable community gardening project.
The value of volunteering
I’m always looking for new experiences that enable me to add value by utilising my lifetime of skills. Volunteering has given me tremendous professional experience.
If you want to volunteer, it’s important to think about why you’re doing it and keep that in mind. You will, for the most part, be doing what you can do, what you have experience in, perhaps using skills from your ‘day job’ but doing that in an environment where everyone is trying to achieve the same goals and everyone genuinely cares about making a difference. That’s where the real value is.