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Ever considered a Nonprofit Photography Program?

How are you with a camera? With our humanitarian photography program, your camera skills could help to make a big impact. This program places passionate photographers (students, part-timers and professionals), with Penda Trust, an organization that provides nonprofits with free professional photography. You’ll learn the logistics, craft, and ethics of nonprofit photography, then put their skills to use for important causes. (For those interested, we also offer a longer nonprofit photography internship 

It’s easy to overlook how much a talent for taking photos can help nonprofit organizations. So, here we’ll unpack the impact an image can make. We’ll hear from humanitarian photographer and course convenor, Anna Lusty, the organizations Penda Trust supports, and let you know how you can get involved.
– Text by Tom Rusbridge, images by Anna Lusty

Browse all our available Nonprofit Photography Programs.

What is Humanitarian Photography?

It’s photography taken to document humanitarian crises and encourage support for their aid. 

Really, humanitarian photography is just a (relatively) new term for what has been one of the primary uses of photography since its invention: to tell urgent stories of people in need. An early example of this is Henry Mayhew’s ‘London Labour’ from the mid-19th century which documented the harsh work conditions for poorer residents of London. More recently, Steve McCurry’s ‘Afghan Girl’ taken for National Geographic in the mid-eighties gave a face to the vast populations displaced by the Soviet-Afghan war. It has since become known as the magazine’s most recognizable photo. Read more on the Penda blog

In all cases, it plays an informative role, documenting an event, but an emotive one too, evoking a response. This is an important part of humanitarian photography: it is intended to make an impact. It aims to tell a story and inspire action. 

How does Humanitarian Photography help?

Put simply, visual material is essential to raising awareness for a cause, and so raising funds for an organization.

The role that photography plays for nonprofits cannot be understated. Especially now so much of a nonprofit’s existence is online. Images are needed for marketing, communications, events, exhibitions, awareness drives, donor outreach, content for social media, websites, blogs… The list goes on.  Photography is not only proof of an organization’s work, it’s also a powerful tool for reaching an audience emotionally.

Organizations like Penda Trust (and photographers that join them on our nonprofit photography programs) allow nonprofits access to professional photography that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. They provide quality images free of charge, so nonprofits can direct funds and efforts towards the cause. 

nonprofit photography workshop

Education project by Free Haven in Zambia

Why is Humanitarian Photography Important?

When it comes to connecting with your audience and telling a story, there are some things only an image can do. As our nonprofit photography pro, Anna, puts it, “Non-profits are built on passion and purpose.  The marketing of their work must amplify their message to the world.” 

“The use of strong images builds an emotional journey that carries the donor through the giving process.  It motivates their desire to make a difference in the world. They want to donate to non-profits that are affecting real change.”

“If you can show people how to join you in changing the world, you will inspire them to get involved. Images can do this!”

Humanitarian Photography and our Nonprofit Photography Programs, with Anna Lusty

As mentioned, we run a few nonprofit photography programs, but it’s with our Humanitarian Photography Program that photographers gain Anna’s mentorship.

Anna’s passionate about the program, describing it as “an incredible opportunity to learn new skills whilst being able to give back to the non-profits that we partner with.”  As Anna explains, “Our partners don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer and are in real need of this support to boost their organization’s presence.”

Key details of our Humanitarian Photography Program

You can read through all information on the program, but these are the basics

  • Location: Cape Town, South Africa, or Livingstone, Zambia
  • Duration: 2-4 weeks
  • Requirements:
    •  Basic photography skills
    • Familiarity with editing software 
    • Your own DSLR or mirrorless camera
  • What you’ll do:
    • Photographers spend their first week learning from Anna in a partly theoretical, partly practical workshop.
    • Each subsequent week is spent on projects with various nonprofit organizations. You’ll spend a week with each project, take your shots, edit your work, hand it in, and then report back to Anna who’ll guide your progress

Get all the info on our Humanitarian Photography Program here 

nonprofit photography workshop

Photography volunteers in Cape Town

Anna Lusty; Nonprofit Photography Program Convenor

Anna Lusty is a professional photographer who offers services to nonprofit organizations and foundations of all sizes. With years of experience, she has a wealth of knowledge to share with photographers. We gather from our feedback she’s a great teacher too. Read more about how Anna came to humanitarian photography on the Penda blog.

When we caught up with Anna she was kind enough to share with us what she’d been working on recently:

“I am currently partnering with the Family Shelter in Somerset West. We have been on a journey together since Covid – telling individual stories around some of their ‘clients’ – educating the audience around homelessness. also, raising awareness and, of course, much-needed funds.”

“Recently we posted and told a story about a single mother and her child who had ended up homeless for nearly two years after leaving an abusive partner.  We were able to raise a significant amount of money to support her in her next move back to independent living.”

Nonprofit photography program - Photo from Anna Lusty

Portrait at Somerset Shelter

What you’ll gain from a Nonprofit Photography Program

Well, besides a great portfolio, an incredible experience, and unique insight into the country you visit, there are some nonprofit photography skills you’ll learn in this program too. 

The program works around best practices and ethics when shooting in this sector,” explains Anna. “It includes approaches to successful photography creation when working in the field with the primary focus being on creating a safe space for your subject or subjects.  We cover areas such as ethical considerations – examining the motives behind creating particular images and their potential impact.”

“The week is full of practical experience with a diverse group of non-profits giving the photographer the time and space to grow in confidence under my mentorship.  We spend time evaluating and reflecting on the images captured so that each shoot can be built upon.”

“The key for me is preserving the dignity  of each and every subject whilst still showing an accurate and detailed bank of visuals to inspire and motivate the audience.”

nonprofit photography program

Volunteer photographer Vanessa in Cape Town

Who can a Nonprofit Photography Program Help?

And don’t just take our’s and Anna’s word on the impact of humanitarian photography. Here’s what the organizations that Penda Trust supports have to say about it (these are organisations you’d be working with on this nonprofit photography program):  

Amoyo Foundation

This organization’s works improve prospects and quality of life for children of disadvantaged communities in Cape Town through after-school programs in the performing arts. 

What role do images play for your organization? 

Every day we source images for our social media platforms and marketing literature. Having great images of our children and organization is a crucial part of grabbing the attention of our followers and standing out to our donors and future donors with strong positive images reflecting our core values and purpose.

What was your experience in working with Anna and the other photographers? 

Anna and all the photographers were extraordinarily kind, present, in-the-moment, and supportive. They were interested in our program, had some beautiful ideas for the photographs, and nothing was too much trouble. They were an absolute joy to have around. All so easy to chat with, and they engaged with the children and teachers really well.

How will you use the images? 

The images are already in use! We’re thrilled with them too. We have two on our Facebook as part of our ‘Become a classroom sponsor for R300 per month’ campaign. We also use them regularly for specific projects, like our  AGR 2021-2022; they look wonderful!  

Our plan is to continue using them for our online social media platforms and our marketing literature while looking into Non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

We are so grateful to have so many, extraordinarily beautiful photos of our children. It makes such a difference when we put together any type of media for Amoyo! 

nonprofit photography workshop

Volunteer photographer Mark photographing at Amoyo


TEARS is one of South Africa’s leading animal welfare organizations. They rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home domestic animals, and provide veterinary services to local communities around Cape town

What role do images play for your organization? 

A good or bad image can be the difference between being adopted and not. Images are what spark the connection online that leads to adoption applications. Images are what capture the hearts of our supporters and lead to donations. 

What was your experience in working with Anna and the other photographers? 

Anna and her students have been invaluable to TEARS. The reality of working in a non-profit is that we are so busy that we often don’t have time to capture the moments. This is really such a loss but working with photographers makes all of the difference. 

How will you use the images? 

Some of the images have been used to populate our Annual Report and the TEARS 2023 Calendar was also shot by Anna and her students with incredible results. We use the images for social, the web, donation appeals, newsletters and posters.

nonprofit photography workshop

During a TEARS shoot in Cape Town

Funda Kunye

Based in Cape Town, this organization works to improve children’s lives by providing caregivers with educational programs and resources in early childhood development.

What role do images play for your organization? 

We like to have good images as it shows professionalism and that we value what we do. Good images make people want to investigate further. 

What was your experience in working with Anna and the other photographers? 

Anna was very professional and the other photographers were easy to work with. They really captured the essence of what we do.

How will you use the images? 

We use them for social media, funding proposals and keeping a record of what we have done.

Considering a Nonprofit Photography Program?

So, if you’re ready to explore your passion for photography in Africa, whilst making a positive impact in the world, and if you feel Anna might be the right person to show you how, then book your place on our Humanitarian Photography Program.

 Apply for our Humanitarian Photography Program now!