At The Giving Lens, we have a vision. Our vision is to see the three things we love most come together for a greater good: our love of travel, our passion for photography, and our deep desire to give back to those in need. Our vision comes alive when we partner with amazing organizations in developing nations, who are at the ground level of a community, reaching out with the utmost respect and admiration for the people, and attempting in their seemingly small, but actually enormous way, to help. Our vision comes alive when photographers are moved to action out of compassion, humbleness, and the understanding that seeing the world through a lens and capturing all its moments of beauty and heartache, of victory and agony, of joy and struggle must be one of the most blessed roles on Earth – whether you’ve shot half a million frames, or just a few; whether it is your hobby, your job, or your entire life. Our vision comes alive when willing hands and hearts meet us around the world to do what they can to make the world just a little bit better; when they meet us on the ground, and we give our time, energy, resources, love, and to humbly hold out our cameras as an offering to anyone who may need it.
This is a travel photography workshop with a meaningful twist. We build trips that devote a few days to taking your hand and placing it in the hand of a worthy Non-Profit doing incredible work. We get you, and a whole team of willing photographers, to that nation and facilitate your experience on the ground. We volunteer our camera, hearts, time, and energy in whatever way the Non-Profit needs most. Most often, it is by teaching photography classes to kids, youths, or underprivileged communities who crave creative outlets to express themselves. Along the way, we document the NGOs efforts (and issues) and willingly donate back a few images each for their use. Sometimes we even get our hands dirty with hands-on help. There is no limit to what we are capable of. Each trip is different and offers a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience. By participating in a TGL (The Giving Lens) Trip you are signing on for a photographic adventure in a new and amazing place, but also allowing yourself the opportunity to explore, grow, document and work hand in hand to help make a difference with the local communities, NGO organizations and countries we will be working in. As you grow in your photography you might also be working with school children, helping to protect an endangered species, or empowering women.
Our trips are planned by photographers to inspire photographers. We will plan to be at amazing places at the best times of day whenever possible. We want to balance out all the desires for a trip like this: to be at bucket-list spots and create those shots we dream about, but also to get off the beaten track and experience and explore the less touristed, more authentic places and people of a culture; we want to devote as much energy as we can to making amazing photos, but allow time and space to simply have a moving experience, to draw a breath and realize “I am here”; we want to pour ourselves out to a non-profit, but allow time and space to be filled back up; we want to give our all to our non-profits, but honour the deep desires we have to see, experience, taste, and feel this foreign place, by balancing impactful volunteer work with pure photographic joy at epic locations. Even when not volunteering we partner with tour companies that are responsible, but also guides not just to places but into the culture, offering more authentic experiences than simple, surface level tourism. We want to benefit local guides, local hotels, family fun restaurants, camps, cooking lessons, local artists, and much more.
We want to talk about all things travel photography. The ethics, the responsibilities, the ins and outs of making a truly epic travel image. We want to talk about all genres, all times of day, whatever gear you have, and whatever experience you bring to the table. We are inclusive to our very core. We can talk about social media, editing, workflow – whatever you want to learn, your leaders are there to break it down. While we want you to come with us again and again, we want you to walk with the skills you need to do this on any trip you take.
We want to do this together. No posturing, no egos, no gear-bragging, no motives except to be here, together, making art, making images, chasing down the essence of a place and what that means to a photo, and to us as artists, travellers, and humans.
We try to achieve all of the following, on every trip:
– To recruit passionate, adventurous, humble, honest, real photographers. Our participants are of all skill levels, all backgrounds, all ages, all lifestyles. Our trips are not first-come-first-served.
– To remove as many obstacles as possible that might prevent you from having this experience if it’s something you want. That means we take care of all the logistics on the ground: from hotels, to transportation, to meals, to schedules, to photo-shoot and workshop locations, to activities; not to mention carefully selecting amazing Non-Profits whose work we fully support, and identifying ways in which our team can be of use in a meaningful, purposeful way. We’re the best at planning these trips. You’re in good hands. All you have to do is show up.
– To foster a sense of community, because that’s how these trips are best experienced. We support and encourage one another, learn and grow together, struggle together, and celebrate – together. These trips will break us down and build us back up, as photographers and as people, and a strong, supportive community is so vital to healthy growth.
– To walk with our participants through the journey. We are professional photographers with ample travel experience. We have been there. We have seen poverty and pain, and also joy and victory. We understand the emotions involved with this type of work and we can help you unpack and deal with any and all emotions as they arise.
– To Grow: we facilitate photography workshops where everyone has a chance to shoot, ask questions, try again, grow and learn. This is an ask-and-learn process also known as collaborative learning, as opposed to traditional classroom-style lectures. This collaborative effort ensures that each participant is met exactly where they’re at.
– To Learn: we aim to educate each and every one of our participants – not only on photography, but also on the ethics around travel photography, and the ethics around travel in general. How do we travel better? We want to turn our teams from tourists into travellers.
– To facilitate meaningful, tangible, purposeful work alongside amazing Non-Profits. Often this work relates to photography – from documenting, to filming, to portraits, to photo-education and beyond. But the bottom line is that we will leave an impact – and in doing so, we will be impacted beyond what we could have imagined.
– To come alongside Non-Profits not only in terms of media, images, awareness, and other tangible needs, but also financially. After each trip, we share our profits with the organization – anywhere from 30% to 60% depending on factors at play. But this equals thousands of dollars directly into the Non-Profits hands – the most important way we can help, above all.