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Portrait photographers unite for charity

The National Family Portrait Month (NFPM) charity campaign is returning this July, with the aim of raising $10,000 for the Make A Wish Foundation while kick starting business for photographers.

The fundraising event launched in 2016, and in total participating photographers have shot upwards of 2000 sessions and raised more than $150,000 for charity.

The way it works is that photographers pay a $95 participation fee to be listed and matched with NFPM clients, who pay $51 for a session. All this money is donated to charity, and an additional upside for the photographer is they can then sell products to the client for a profit.

‘It’s purely to about seeing how much money we can make for charity. It’s as simple as that,’ NFPM event co-ordinator, Bernie Griffiths, told Inside Imaging. ‘It’s a win for the charity, a win for the photographers who have more clients, and a win for suppliers who need photographers to be shooting jobs. Everybody wins.

‘I am hoping that NFPM will help revive the portrait photography industry after the downturn that occurred due to the pandemic.’

Since opening applications up last week, just over 10 photographers have signed up. Bernie is aiming to get that number up to 30, to ensure the sessions can be efficiently managed across Australia.

The first photographer to sign up is Kate Buechner from Uber Photography. This is her fifth year shooting NFPM sessions in Sydney, and she estimates to have raised more than $6000 for charity over roughly 120 sessions.

‘The philosophy of my business is to support the local community as much as possible,’ she told Inside Imaging. ‘So when Bernie announced this project it spoke to me, as it’s using our photography as a way to support our community, while getting more clients.’

She says participating in NFPM has lifted her businesses profile by raising money for a good cause, and shines a light on the value of family protraiture.

‘It shows we’re out there and helping people. They understand it’s an opportunity to get family photos, and a lot of people are really grateful for having this spur [a charity donation] to finally get them in there for a shoot.’

When it comes to pricing and sales, Kate is upfront with her clients and explains hows it all works. Despite having a ‘no pressure’ sale approach, she finds more than 90 percent of NFPM participants are keen to leave with a print.

‘Almost all the clients we’ve shot have mentioned the charity has connected with them in some way. For a couple of years it was Beyond Blue, and I had clients who had mental health issues in the family. I’ve always liked how the charity connects with people in different ways.’

The NFPM theme is ‘Mothers and their Children’, and Kate is excited to provide a professional photography experience to new clients who aren’t often behind the lens.

Premium photo album company, GraphiStudio, has signed up as an event partner. This partnership will involve marketing NFPM to its Australian professional photography database.

One of the keys to success for NFPM is it’s a simple grassroots event. There are few overheads. Bernie, a portrait photography business coach, isn’t earning a salary, and there is no marketing budget. The participating photographers and event sponsors are encouraged to market NFPM via the channels available to them.

‘When photographers promote it in their area, they can get publicity,’ he said. ‘We’ve had photographers on the radio, and on local TV. So we’re spreading the word about the importance and value of family portraiture and professional photography, and that’s a benefit to the industry. No one else is out there doing anything about it, so why not us?’

Bernie is also planning to go international later this year, by launching NFPM in the UK in September and US later on.

‘We need to bring the industry together. Even though photographers may pretend like there’s no competition, we’re all in the same boat and we could all benefit by coming together a bit better and having more community.’

Click here for more info on the National Family Portrait Month.

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