From the end of 2011, LIN was fortunate to receive support from Pham Vu Hoang Giang, a volunteer photographer. Giang is an enthusiastic young man with a passion for photography and talented at capturing the moment. He is also very responsible in his work. Therefore, since the addition of Giang, all of LIN events were well documented through very neat photos from Giang. These photos help provide visual information to LIN’s social network, report to sponsors, and other documents.
This summer, even though Giang really wanted to participate in the Narrow the Gap Photo Contest 2013: Focus on Children, he was not able to join because of his participation in ICHA Vietnam 2013. But before going to Ha Noi, Giang shared his experience of being a LIN’s volunteer photographer to help you better understand what attracts him in this work.
Can you share a little bit about of your work at LIN?
I started working for LIN in December, 2011. From then on, I have taken pictures of most LIN’s events to help promote LIN’s services on website and social network. I have also taken photos for many of LIN’s partners. In addition, I also manage LIN’s photo storage.
I really like the working atmosphere here. The first reason is the professionalism of LIN’s staff and the friendly atmosphere that gave me a lot of inspiration for taking pictures. Second, by working as a volunteer at LIN, I have had opportunities to take part in different projects, which in turn increased my expertise in many areas.
Do you take photos for other NPOs or social activities?
I’ve taken photos for other not-for-profit organizations such as Global Shapers, KOTO, CanCham and a number of events like Help Portrait, Mua He Xanh project, Earth Hour… These works run from 2011 until now.
How do you see the role that a volunteer photographer plays in a non-profit organization?
A volunteer photographer plays a rather important role because he/she is the one who reflects the organization, its people, and its values through images. All the photos serve communication purposes and act as a bridge between the NPO and the community. In comparison to other communication tools like the TV and printed media, photos shared on social networks have a big impact on followers educating them about the work of the organization. Moreover, by using photos taken by volunteers, LIN spends significantly less than working with media agencies.
Why do you think there are a number of young people who participated in photography groups but organizations still lack volunteer photographer?
There are several reasons. First of all, most of the people tend to take landscape or fashion pictures and these aren’t appropriate for organizations. Second, there isn’t much communication yet between the photographers and the organizations. The organizations themselves haven’t realized the importance of volunteer photographers to start actively recruiting. Third, taking pictures for organizations does not really generate enough income to attract fellow photographers. Finally, many take photos as a hobby, but working for NPOs requires a certain level of responsibility and commitment.
What benefits do you think volunteering brings to the photographer himself?
Being a volunteer photographer, besides helping an organization in their communication efforts, also has many rewards. The benefits can be hard to see and yet they are very clear. It’s the improvement in work ethic as well as useful experience for the photography career. This is the opportunity to show your work to the community which also broadens your network. Moreover, you have a chance to master your skills. Right now in Vietnam, requests for pictures of everyday lives and interviews are hard to come by, so if you are interested in those themes you should become a volunteer for an organization. Finally, this job will offer you more than just a chance to take pictures, it will help you see and address eminent problems in our society.
Even though the LIN’s photo storage is often updated by Giang and other skilled volunteer photographers, you see them in the photos very rarely, because they were the one who took the pictures.
This is a rare photo of LIN that Giang appears in, taken at the LIN’s Community Event for Women in December 2012. Giang is in the first row on the very left.