Volunteer Photography for Aspiring Photographers

In order to get hired for photography jobs, you need a proven portfolio and hands-on experience. But in order to build an impressive portfolio, you need to shoot the subjects you’re interested in, whether that’s weddings, sports, families, or something else. How, then, do you gain real-life photography experience?

Luckily, in addition to practicing on friends and family, photographers can volunteer to shoot for a wide range of nonprofit organizations. Volunteer photography is a rewarding way to contribute to a cause your care about while fine-tuning your skills.

Volunteer Photography Aspiring Photographers

Photographer_2FL by James Russo

Community Events

Groups running neighborhood clean-ups, parades, block parties, fundraisers, community gardens, and school events are likely to appreciate a volunteer photographer. Having great images of their events helps them to promote their organization via a website, brochures, and social media. It’s also a great networking opportunities for photographers who want to reach out to their local communities. Get involved with your neighborhood association and get in touch with community leaders to see how you can help out by contributing your photography services.

Charity Runs

Volunteer Photography Aspiring Photographers

Santa Fun Run by Melbourne Mermaid

The number of charity bike rides, runs, walks, and triathlons has skyrocketed in recent years. Many of these races depend on volunteer photographers to document the event. Check websites for specific races in your area to see if they list their volunteer needs. You can also contact the event coordinators to offer your time and talent.

Family Portraits

Family portraiture is a popular genre for photographers. It’s usually not too difficult to find willing subjects, and non-profit organizations specializing in providing portrait services exist. One such organization, Help-Portrait, is a worldwide movement to provide portraits for families who aren’t otherwise able to afford a photographer. Its model is simple: “1. Find someone in need. 2. Take their portrait.” Look for a Help-Portrait chapter in your city, or do the project on your own by finding a family in need of a portrait.

Animal Shelters

Volunteer Photography Aspiring Photographers

Starla mid-yawn by Tricia

If you’re hoping to get started in pet photography, check with animal rescue organizations to see if you can photograph animals in need of adoption. Beautiful, emotion-stirring photos of cats, dogs, and other pets assist in attracting potential adopters via print ads and online databases, and shelters often need regular volunteers to keep up with all of the incoming animals.

These are only a few of the ways photographers can help make the world a better place while improving their photography skills. There are also organizations that aggregate volunteer opportunities to make the search for a good match easier.

More Volunteer Opportunities for Photographers


ShutterMission is an organization that gathers lists of volunteer opportunities for photographers who want to give back to the community. Many of the organizations listed on the site require photographers to be experienced and have a business up and running, so check requirements before applying.


VolunteerMatch offers a searchable database of volunteer openings at nonprofits in the United States. The site helps community members find organizations that need their particular skills. Volunteers can search by location or cause to find a fitting volunteer photography position. Virtual positions are also available.

Refine your portfolio and contribute to a cause you care about by doing volunteer photography. Most opportunities are enjoyable and give you valuable experience. If you plan to use the photos you take in your portfolio, check with the organizations and event coordinators ahead of time to make sure you have permission and appropriate model releases. Your time and effort will be appreciated, and you’ll improve your photography skills in the meantime.

PhotographyVox Newsletter

If you want to learn more about photography as well as get the latest updates on new cameras and equipment, you need to subsribe to our newsletter. On a weekly basis, we're sharing select exclusive tips and tricks. For a limited time by signing up you'll also get our new ebook "The step by step guide to take better photographs instantly", FREE.

Profile photo of Nicoal Price About Nicoal Price

​Nicoal is a New England photographer with a penchant for learning. Her work ranges from nature-inspired portraiture to outdoor product photography. Visit nicoalprice.com for more info.

Leave a Comment

Skip to toolbar