Lifehouse website, featuring photographs by David Charnack. Screenshot © Lifehouse

Advocacy in Photography

Three photographers recently completed a hybrid classroom/mentorship course at The Image Flow on advocacy photography — defined here as a photographer collaborating with a non-profit organization or similar entity to illustrate that group’s core values and to promote its work. By the end of the 12-week course, each of the students had photos published by one or more of their partner organizations.

Bread and Roses advocacy
Screenshot courtesy of Bread & Roses Presents. Photographs © Janet Franklin

Non-profit organizations constantly need fresh, compelling imagery to tell their story — for fundraising, promotion, and publicity. Images are used in blogs, newsletters, social media, printed in brochures and posters, and are used to support grant applications. The course was a combination of group meetings and individual mentorship, and addressed technical topics such as lighting and selective focus as well as organizational skills such as catalog management, communications, and file delivery.

Publication courtesy of Lifehouse. Photographs © David Charnack

This is how Nancy Dow Moody, Lifehouse CEO, describes the advocacy photography of course participant David Charnack:

“David has been an amazing community partner and advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). He has donated his time and expert eye to capturing beautiful images of the people that Lifehouse supports. These images have been used across all of our marketing materials from newsletters, to local magazines, our website and social media. We are so grateful to David for helping Lifehouse shine a light on folks with I/DD in our community.”


tif-photo-addiction to healing
Promotion courtesy of Marin Shakespeare Company. Photograph © Ada Endress

Course instructor Peter Merts credits advocacy photography as:

“… the backbone of my 40+ year photographic practice, and a grounding force that balances against my fine art work, which can at times be isolating and seem a bit self-indulgent.

Advocacy photography — particularly when pursued as a long-term project with an organization — has rewarded me with repeated publication, with artistic motivation and confidence, as well as with heartfelt appreciation, the blessings of community, and many individual friendships. It’s a great way to serve both your community and your photographic ambitions.”

Interested in the next session? Let us know.

About these Advocacy Organizations


logo Bread & Roses Presents is dedicated to uplifting the human spirit by presenting free, live performing arts performances to people who live in institutions or are otherwise isolated from society.
logo Lifehouse’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities in our community by providing a lifetime of compassionate support in an atmosphere of respect, inspiration, and purpose.
logo Marin Shakespeare Company provides professional productions at the Forest Meadows Amphitheatre and its new indoor home at 514 Fourth Street San Rafael, as well as arts education programs, classes in California state prisons, and the Returned Citizens Theatre Troupe.


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