Let's talk about giving! In this holiday season many of us are buying gifts for loved ones & receiving presents, but truly the most important thing for us to remember at this time and all times of the year is to give some of our time, energy, and donations to those unrelated to ourselves- animals, nature, & others who could really use a helping hand. Our blog post this week is about our annual business volunteering and donations. Taking time to help others isn't about "scoring points with God in order to get to Heaven," rather doing things out of the kindness of your heart to help something outside of yourself, your family, your friends, etc. to impact lives positively. No matter what you're going though, someone or something out there is also having a hard time, so in this season of commercialized shopping remember to extend your hand to help others out (volunteering is FREE)! Who knows? It may help you heal in the process too.
Every single year we as a business donate our photography products or volunteer our services specifically to a non-profit that we deeply love and hope to help in a huge way. We no longer do “free photography” work for ANYONE other than OUR chosen annual donation non-profit beneficiary. We do not entertain any ideas of donations that people bring us simply because we’ve been asked to do photography work for free for others’ businesses (and families) for a whopping 15 years and grew tired of being used a good 7 or 8 years ago (and want to keep it FAIR for our WELL PAYING clients), so it really did made it easier on us when we decided to make our own well thought-out choices on where to volunteer and donate our services and products. (Plus we NEVER ask people to work for free for us and pay our services well, so we think this is a way to respect ourselves, our hard work, our degrees, and our integrity as well.)
For our annual volunteering and donations 4 winters ago we wanted to do something that would truly make an impact on lives and one of the most important things to us in life is animals. We both grew up with animals since childhood and have a deep introverted affinity toward all animals. We’ve owned an array of pets in our lives with our most recent 10 year old rabbit passing this year, but leaving in his wake our dog, cat, and fiddler crabs. We love nature and animals, so the local Humane Society was a perfect fit for us.
Most of the time our annual donations and volunteering go to our local Humane Society. RIGHT NOW The St. Joseph County Humane Society is having a Christmas Sale ALL OF DECEMBER for adoptions wherein dogs are only $50 apiece instead of $200 and cats are merely $10 apiece AND Buy One, Get One Free!! Our own pets that we adopted in 2015 and 2016 are from the Humane Societies nearby (Mishawaka and Elkhart) because we deeply believe in adopting amazing pets and not shopping for purebreds at breeders (who often abuse the animals with neglect and more). All animal shelters are the best places to get your pets should you want some (and everyone should if they can- your wolf pack should be diverse AND it teaches responsibility/ love/ empathy!). Remember to not only check out Humane Societies, but all Shelters as the other shelters often NEED more adopters-! Humane Societies have the luxury of getting to choose how many animals they take in (and are always inundated), but other shelters are also overflowing to the point of having to put down animals at times since they HAVE to accept the new incoming animals. This means that without adopters at these shelters, animals may be put down when new ones enter the facility. This is of no fault of their own and is just how the system is, so it’s helpful to encourage pet owners to NOT SHOP with breeders and instead head to the shelters to fall in love with your new family member to bring home-! Anywho, enough with the preaching and onto the donations!
In 2015 some of you may remember that we photographed at the local Humane Society of St. Joseph County for 3 days straight to capture photos of 130+ animals in their care ready for adoption! This would normally cost someone thousands of dollars to have us capture (and more for licensing images), but we donated our services to get the animals adopted out! We photographed a whopping 75 dogs all in a studio setting (with our FULL studio lights, backdrop, etc.) and a ridiculous amount of cats… PLUS bunnies, rats, and more! We even got creative since they’d had a thrift sale right before and we used Christmas costumes on many of the animals (well, those who would tolerate it). It was an exhausting, crazy time trying to get each dog and animal to sit still and face the right direction, but SO many of the animals got adopted (wish we knew the percentage) due to the gorgeous and fun photos that we captured!
In 2016 our photos of the animals (separately a dog and a rabbit) were featured in the South Bend Tribune newspaper and on the entire front cover of the Humane Society’s magazine! We also sponsored a portion of their annual Humane Society Golf Outing that yearly raises a large amount of money for the St. Joseph County Humane Society.
In 2017 we changed it up and volunteered our services and physical photography products to the Islamic Society of Michiana because we thought the growing islamophobia (especially in the Midwest) was getting absolutely out of control and was completely inappropriate. We wanted to show REAL local Islamic families that everyone could relate to, so not only did we take their family portraits, but we also had them write a bit about themselves. After all was said and done at our venue of The Century Center, we let the families choose their favorite photos of themselves and we printed and matted for them some beautiful 8x10 photographs! It was a fantastic time.
Since we donated our services and products to the local Islamic Society in 2017, we were a bit smaller scale for the Humane Society in 2017, but did still sponsor a bit of their Annual Golf Outing for the Humane Society and actually helped work the event in person for them. We also photographed it for them AND bid on some silent auction items (actually winning some)!
In 2018 this year for the third year in a row we helped sponsor a small portion of the annual Humane Society Golf Outing. The event raises a lot of money for the St. Joseph Humane Society Annually, so it is one of their biggest events of the year. In 2018 we could not volunteer our time in person due to photography work, so instead we re-edited and printed MASSIVE photos that we had taken of 4 of the animals that had been in the shelter to be displayed on the walls of the lobby and near the cat portion of the Humane Society’s building.
(Above are some of the adoptable dogs that the Humane Society brought to their past golf outings and below are some of the images we photographed, edited, and printed in a large format for the Humane Society!)
All-in-all the past 4 years of donations and volunteering our services locally has felt very “right.” We hope that everyone who sees our photography of the animals is reminded of the wonderful nature of animals and how much they truly bring to families. We hope that our photos of awesome local community members of the Islamic Society spread the message of equality and empathy for everyone in our society no matter the religion, gender, or any similar factor. We’re not sure what our exact volunteering and physical photo product donations will be next year, but we hope to continue to help those organizations that we choose to donate our time, energy, and money toward! Remember: RIGHT NOW The St. Joseph County Humane Society is having a Christmas Sale ALL OF DECEMBER for adoptions wherein dogs are only $50 apiece instead of $200 and cats are merely $10 apiece AND Buy One, Get One Free!! , so if you’ve been wanting a new family member, now is the time to act!
________**Unrelated: Coming up on CHRISTMAS next Tuesday is our Annual Family Christmas Portrait year 5-!! We were a bit belated capturing our photo this year (with our animals again a week ago) because we’ve been fulfilling orders from our clients in 8 states: Texas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Chicago/ IL, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana-! We’ve been hand delivering and shipping last minute Christmas photo product orders to our clients last week and this with TOMORROW being the last day that we will be delivering pre-Christmas orders. (Any orders from today (12/19) through a bit after Christmas will be designed, printed, and delivered after sometime after the holidays). We cannot WAIT to have a bit of a break coming up, though we do know that we have about 7 big photo products pending (mostly non-wedding physical photo albums) that we’re waiting on photo choices for from our clients, so as soon as they’re ready after the holiday, we’re designing and printing for them.
Make sure to check back this coming Tuesday on Christmas for our funny annual Christmas photo and in the meantime, we hope you have a nice weekend with friends and/or family (and are able to avoid the chaos of the overstuffed malls)!