re·pur·pose (rē-pûr'pəs) - To use or convert for use in another format or product.
I am a firm believer that no matter what your abilities or talents, you can re-purpose them for good. No matter how big or how seemingly insignificant, any and every talent can be re-purposed for good.
Take the example of Blake Mycoskie, creator of Toms Shoes, who decided to create a new kind of shoe ... but didn't stop where most shoe companies do ... he not only designed a very popular shoe, he also started one of the most significant philanthropic movements in the past 5 years. The movement is coined "One for One," and it is based around the business model that for every pair of shoes that is purchased, Toms will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. To date, Toms has given over 400,000 shoes to children in need ... helping to improve the quality of life while at the same time helping to prevent one of the leading causes of disease in developing countries: soil-transmitted diseases such as helminths (or intestinal worms), elephantiasis, Trichuriasis, etc.
So what did Blake do? He re-purposed the seemingly insignificant job of designing and selling shoes (sorry to any shoe designers reading this), and used it to literally save lives.
You can read more about the Toms Shoes movement here : http://www.toms.com/movement-one-for-one
and help to raise awareness by taking part in One Day Without Shoes on April 8th : http://www.onedaywithoutshoes.com/
In July I had the amazing opportunity to re-purpose our job of wedding photography (as the owner of HARRISON STUDIO) and use it raise support and awareness for an organization that saves lives. I traveled with Mike Colon, Jim Davis, and 12 other amazing photographers to Tanzania, Africa to participate in a benefit shoot for Thirst Relief International sponsored by Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine. The concept was simple: to raise support and awareness for Thirst Relief International among wedding professionals and the public at large. We partnered with 5 elite wedding dress designers : Ines Di Santo, Amy Michelson, Adele Wechsler, and Angel Sanchez ... who all designed a dress specifically for our benefit shoot, and have generously decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each dress to Thirst Relief International. Along with each designers generosity, Grace Ormonde of Wedding Style Magazine also guaranteed a feature of the benefit shoot in her amazing magazine to help spread awareness.
You can see details and images of the spreads by heading over to our blog: HARRISON STUDIO BLOG
Along with photographing the gorgeous gowns designed to bring support to Thirst Relief, we were also able to do service projects in which we helped to build the life-saving bio-sand filters (pictured below) as well as install these filters in communities and orphanages with little to no access to clean drinking water. I can't even describe the impact the Tanzanian people had on me ... but I can tell you that I am a FIRM believer that it is FAR GREATER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE.
I would urge anyone reading this to consider re-purposing your job and abilities to impact others. You will be blown away by the joy you will feel knowing that you can make a difference in people's lives. Whether you are a wedding photographer, portrait photographer, or any other event professional ... you can utilize your talent to impact others. You may not be "saving lives" with your profession, but I can guarantee you that you can re-purpose your profession in a way that impacts others.
Below are some great resources for ways that photographers can use their skill to help others ... or just check around locally with non-profits and churches, as there is always a need for photography and event related volunteers!
Thirst Relief International
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep