Sunday, September 27, 2009

How to give back to the community – and have fun while doing it

What good is it to have an interest, a business, a skill or a talent and not use it to improve your region? In my humble opinion, we’d need less government oversight and government involvement if we all chipped in where we could – grassroots, ya know.

Enough political talk – lemme tell you about a group I like to help out as I can. It’s the Domestic Violence group in Bismarck and their annual Spike Out Violence volleyball tournament. It’s a fundraiser in July to support programs to combat domestic violence.

This year, I couldn’t shoot the whole two-day affair as I did last year; I had to fly out to Pittsburgh on Sunday, but Saturday’s shoot was the perfect environment. Outdoors, action, interest and people.

Shooting volleyball isn’t a tough job if you follow some basic tips. Keep track of the sun, and keep it at about a 90-degree angle to the shot direction. Keep one eye on the viewfinder and the other open to follow the action. If it’s an outside sunny day, you should have no trouble shooting a fast enough shutter speed to freeze action. If it’s inside or not sunny, you’ll need to adjust your ISO and or your aperture. However, if you open up your aperture (smaller f-stop number) you’ll also decrease your depth of field and could get a bunch of out-of-focus shots. So, play with it, to find what works best when the light isn’t cooperating. That’s the shooting technique.

How to find the right organization. That depends on your motivation. If it’s truly an altruistic motive, find what interests you – usually an emotionally touching subject – one that makes you smile, frown, or growl. Maybe Domestic Violence isn’t exactly your bag for contributing your time and talents. Perhaps it is the Labor Day telethon for MDA, or a local flea market to raise money for a new playground, or a walk-a-thon to raise money for a “youth at risk” program, or may be it’s the local zoo, or animal shelter. I think you get the point.

In my day at the sandlot volleyball courts in Bismarck, I got to hang with some cool people. Their endorphins were raging and they were having a good time, the mood was upbeat. So, I got to enjoy not only the weather and the opportunity to do what I like – take photos. However, I also got to hang with and meet some happy, outgoing folks. That was my reward. The keeper photos got posted on my website,

And oh, along the sideline, there are also some good shots to be had. Don’t forget to take a few model releases with you, cuz you don’t know when you might find a willing model such as Annabelle! More about photographing kids like Annabelle another time.

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