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Photography and Water: How You Can Make a Difference

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This year Phototuts+ is taking part in Blog Action Day to raise awareness about clean water and water conservation. In today's post, we'll be taking a look at some compelling images of water issues around the world, and thinking about how you can use your talent as a photographer to raise money for this important cause.

Why Water?

For many people in the world, water isn't something that you worry a great deal about. The chances are that if you have an internet connection and can read this post, you're probably also in an area of the world with a decent supply of clean water.

Unfortunately, this isn't the case for everyone. Here are just a few facts that should help to emphasise the importance of this issue to billions of people around the world:

  • Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
  • More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.
  • Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted.

There's no doubt that this is an important issue for humanity to think about, and act upon. But how does your skill and experience as a photographer have anything to do with it?

How We Can Help


There are two widely known charities that are solely dedicated to the issue of clean water, both of which make a great choice for a fundraising or sponsored project:

  • is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries. There are various ways to get involved with their work.
  • charity: water is another non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. Backed by a handful of famous faces and celebrities, they guarantee that 100% of public donations directly fund water projects.

Why not consider dedicating one month of the year a "charity" month, and donating a certain percentage of your income from photography projects to a greater cause? You'll likely hardly notice the small dip in wages for a month, but to someone else this small amount could mean the world.

Make Something

In our digital age, it's all to common for photographs to remain safely stored away on hard drives and never really used to their full potential. In the run-up to Christmas, why not go through your portfolio and pick out twelve images that really stand out. You could put these together into a calendar, sell it to family and friends, then donate the profit to a water charity.

Not only would you have the satisfaction of producing a real, physical photography project - you'll also be contributing something valuable to other people.

Sponsored Photo Shoots

If you're starting out as a photographer and just finding your feet, it can be difficult to persuade people to pay for a photo shoot. Why not tell a few potential clients that you'd donate 50% - or even better, 100% - of their payment for the shoot to a water charity?

They'll be far more compelled to try your services when they know that a certain proportion of their payment is going to a really worthy cause. You'll get a chance to hone your photography skill, that you may not have received otherwise. Win win!

Get Up and Go

If your passion for this issue really stirs you to action, you could consider taking a step out of your comfort zone and taking a trip to a country affected by all these problems. Whether this is purely to work as a volunteer, or as part of a photo-journalism expedition, it's definitely worth considering.

Not only will you be able to experience and document water issues and solutions first-hand, you'd also gain a great deal more experience as a photographer. Fundraising and sponsorship would be a great way to fund your travel expenses, and giving up your time is one of the most valuable things you can possibly do.

You'd return with broadened horizons, a feeling of having contributed something, and - hopefully - a series of photo documentary images to further compel your friends, family, and colleagues.

Water Around the World

As Phototuts+ is a photography website, we wanted to share this issue in a completely visual format as well. Here are some striking and compelling images that show some of the problems and issues surrounding water, as well as a few solutions:

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