campaign: Gary and Courtney Photography
raising the money: Gary and Courtney Christenson
raised so far: $5,117
mission statement: “We wanted a way to empower, inspire and collaborate with those around us to do a meaningful project together larger than we could ever do by ourselves.”
In addition to photographing the most meaningful moments in a couple’s life, Gary and Courtney often share their talents with non-profit organizations. After hearing about charity: water, they decided to get involved. Here’s their story.
How long have you guys been photographers?
We’ve been shooting professionally for over 5 years now. We mainly shoot destination weddings all over the US and sometimes around the world. We love travel, love photography and love capturing LOVE. When we’re not shooting for awesome couples we like to partner with meaningful non-profit organizations and find out how we can help their cause by giving our gifts and talents. A couple years ago we ended up randomly taking three consecutive trips to Africa for various causes. We were introduced to the water crisis first hand while traveling through West Africa. Since then, the water issue has been on our hearts.
How did you hear about charity: water?
Friends of ours, Krysta and Vince, attended an event in LA and introduced us to charity: water. We had the pleasure of photographing Krysta and Vince’s wedding down in Mexico, and became great friends with them. Shortly after that, they encouraged us to get involved. We took a look at the charity: water website and were hooked. We’re very cause driven people and have worked with a lot with non-profits, but charity: water blew us away with their model of how they were going to tackle this water crisis issue. We couldn’t wait to get involved. Our dream was to fund an entire water project, but had no clue how it was going to happen.
How did you guys decide to use your talents behind the camera as part of the campaign?
We are surrounded by amazingly giving people in our photography community. A friend of ours, Benjamin Edwards did a fundraiser for another charity and challenged his friends to find a way to make an impact by using their unique gifts and talents. So we decided to follow Ben’s lead, inspire our friends, and give a few photoshoots away to those who donated a certain amount or more towards our charity: water campaign. In about 36 hours we raised over $5,000. We were absolutely blown away. We had friends from all over the globe donating to our campaign, and even had some fellow photographers in South Africa start their own charity: water campaign under similar terms.
The concept of using our talents to give back has been a life long journey for us. Together, with friends in the video and design community, we started a non-profit four years ago called Emote360 to help non-profit organizations with their media needs. Our team has traveled the globe, helped raise countless dollars for deserving organizations and even won a few awards along the way. But the greatest thing we could ever hope to do is to inspire other creatives to find a way to use their unique gifts to give back. We travel around and speak with other creatives about this very concept while challenging and encouraging them in any way we can to discover new ways for them to give back to their local and global communities. We’ve made this principle of ‘giving back’ a core value of our photography business. It was the coolest thing to see past and future clients of ours help us fund this charity: water campaign.
You guys set a big goal and accomplished it. Were you nervous at all at the beginning?
Absolutely! We were very nervous! It’s really out of our comfort zone to ask those around us to give money. But the need for clean water was too great, so we put our fear behind us and made the leap. Within the first day of our campaign we had reached over half of our goal. We were blown away. The following day we completely met our goal. It was shocking to us how fast people got on board with the idea. The momentum just kept building. We were so humbled and grateful.
You’ve been all over the world taking photographs. Where was your favorite place to shoot?
Yes, we love to travel! And have traveled around the globe for pleasure and on behalf of several non-profit organizations. The most memorable trip would be our trip to Ethiopia. Our friends asked us to join them and a small team of people to help with a water project in a village called Zeway. We helped construct a pump-house and lay almost a mile of piping to bring fresh water to a plot of dry, dusty land that to this day is providing food and income for these people.
Sometimes all you need is an idea and a few friends to jump on board, and the outcome can literally change someone’s world.
What advice do you have for anyone else out there who’s on the fence about starting their own campaign?
We would tell you to just go for it! We honestly believe that every person possesses the power to change the world… you just have to get started. But we’d encourage you to have a plan, give some incentive to the people who partner with you, and get creative about the ways you spread the word to everyone. We made sure everyone knew that ANY AMOUNT would go a long way! We tried to make it easy and made a goal of keeping people ‘in the know’ about how our campaign was doing. We would encourage you to be active, not passive, with your campaign. Be encouraging and grateful. And show people that you mean business by giving along with them to your own campaign. Once the momentum is building, keep it rolling until the campaign is complete.