Hurricane Sandy Relief: Pics for Proceeds

Pics for Proceeds

Heather Jo Mangum started Pics for Proceeds in 2009 when a coworker lost everything in a house fire. What started as a photo shoot to replace some photos for a friend who lost everything is growing by word of mouth into something much bigger.

“Knowing I couldn’t possibly help everyone myself, I set forth to partner with other photographers to develop a network of people who could join forces and collectively offer the same services but on a large enough scale to help so many who were impacted and leverage our size for help. I’ve just started focusing on getting a network developed for the Sandy survivors in the past week.”

Heather Jo has had offers of assistance from photographers, makeup artists and hair salons, as well as the donation of frames from one of the biggest names in the business. Partnerships with other nonprofits are also in the works, in order to allow deductions to pass through tax deductable. While she says progress has been slow, momentum is beginning to build.

She doesn’t consider herself an artist, preferring to call herself a “heartist”, and says that if she can put a smile on a mom’s face and melt her heart, “then my job is done.” She also, incidentally doesn’t consider herself a professional. “I never set out to be a photographer by career. I don’t want to have a full photography business that takes away from photographers who do this for their sole income source. I have a corporate job that pays well which allows me to subsidize the photography. I believe everyone is given a gift, big or small, that can be used to help others. For me, it’s the opportunity to help others capture the precious memories and moments in life.”

Currently, Pics for Proceeds is recruiting photographers of all skill levels. Ms. Mangum asks that her more experienced volunteers pay it forward by not only helping families in need, but also by sharing their skills with other, less-experienced shooters. She emphasizes that she wants to foster “a supportive, not competitive or secretive, environment.” There are challenges in this kind of photography, and sometimes the logistical issues are the least of it. A photo session for a survivor brings strong emotions to the surface, making it vital for volunteers to operate with patience, sensitivity and empathy.

Heather Jo offers some parting words for those who are amateurs or novices (or maybe just a bit insecure about their skills): “I say, ‘JOIN US! ‘There will always be someone better than you and someone less experienced than you. I will say that we are not the best place for someone who is new to photography. If all of your pictures are always done in “program” mode, I would probably ask to spend some time with you discussing what level of training may be needed and available before having you shoot independently. But I don’t think you can go wrong if your heart is in the right place and you’re willing to learn.” She stresses that it’s less about the camera than a willingness to learn, and to accept assignments based on skill level. And even those who aren’t photographers are welcomed with open arms, since assistance is also needed with setup, makeup artistry, and quite a bit else.

You can now sponsor family photo shoots directly through the Pics for Proceeds website, and the money will go directly to the cost of printing the pictures from the photo shoots. This allows Pics for Proceeds to focus on free photography for families in need. To visit them on the web, go to You can also find them on Facebook, via!/PicsForProceeds?fref=ts.

Hurricane Sandy Relief: For Shore Photos

This is just one of the hundreds of photos For Shore Photos wants to reunite with its owners.

One of these days, we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled rumblings and ramblings about photography. Today’s not that day, though, since I’ve come across another photography-related initiative set up to help New Jersey residents after Hurricane Sandy, and wanted to help get the word out. This one’s a bit different, in that you don’t need to be a photographer. In fact, about all you’ll need is a sharp eye, some paper towels, ziploc bags, and wax paper.

Since you’re probably thinking, Huh? to yourself, let me explain.

Jeanne Esti, a Rhode Island-based business consultant and life coach with family ties to the shore, has started For Shore Photos, which is dedicated to rescuing and preserving photos found after the storm. In a note to project supporters, Jeanne wrote:

We escaped unscathed but our neighbors didn’t, nor did so many of our friends around the area. After cleaning up our house, I took a look around the property and truly broke down. What I had thought was debris was the remains of broken open homes and their beautiful, revered contents were strewn all over. I started to look at it and I found photo after photo and then asked the police if I could look at the properties of some of our neighbors who couldn’t make the “access day” (a new normal for many of us). They not only obliged my request, they came with me to make sure I didn’t wind up in a sink hole and helped me collect these photos. It got me thinking about what all of you might be seeing/finding.

If you’re wondering what you can do to help, For Shore Photos’ focus right now is on getting the word out so that people know to look for stray photographs and photo albums in their travels, and know what to do with them once they’ve found them. Namely, to put them in a sealable bag and mark the address where they were picked up. Drop-off points are being announced as they’re arranged, generally at Shore landmarks like Joe Leone’s locations in Point Pleasant and Sea Girt. Then, of course, begins the hard part — scanning those photos, getting them out on the web and Facebook, and helping to reunite them with the families who’ve lost them.

We’ll let Jeanne have the last word. “This is such a blend of my two backgrounds. I’m coaching and helping people through the grief. But the pit bull partnership marketer just created a partnership with a scanning company to do events for free for us and all our scanning, CNN is covering this and one of the Housewives of New Jersey, Caroline, pushed our story! The storm was tragic, but all the help and support I’ve seen since has been inspiring and so much fun! Good energy for a great reason!”

If you’d like to help or find out more, you can visit the For Shore Photos Project on the web at, on Facebook at!/forshorephotos or contact Jeanne by email at

Humans of New York (HONY) Sandy Relief

I’ve been meaning to write something about Brandon Stanton, AKA Humans of New York (further known as HONY) for a dog’s age now. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that a: I’m a fan of good street photography, and b: I’m conflicted by a number of that genre’s current practitioners, whose work I sometimes find tacky and unneccesarily confrontational. Not so with HONY; I always got the impression with Brandon’s work that it was done by someone who had a real affection for the people he photographs.

Of course, photography can be a bit like acting; you don’t want to read too much into a photographer’s style or choice of subject matter, at least as far as what it might say about them as a person. Having said that, what I love and respect about the work I’ve seen on HONY is that it always seems to be done as much from the standpoint of what the photographer gives to his subject just as much as what he’s taking from (or of) them.

And as it turns out, I probably wasn’t all that far off in the first place. HONY is running a fundraiser on IndieGogo, in partnership with Tumblr. Details below:

Our Mission

Tumblr and Humans of New York are teaming up to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. For ten days beginning November 11th, we will be documenting and sharing the stories of those affected by the storm. We hope to show all sides of the story, featuring not only the victims of the storm but also the first responders and volunteers who are helping them recover. Hurricane Sandy revealed the power of nature, as well as the power of humanity. We aim to document both. By doing so, we hope to encourage YOU to contribute the relief efforts.

The purpose of this fundraiser is to collect donations. However, to spice things up a bit, Tumblr and HONY are teaming up to provide incentives and rewards for donating. Tumblr is throwing in some cool Tumblr gear, and HONY is providing prints and other goodies. We are covering these expenses ourselves so absolutely all money raised will be going to relief efforts.

Where the Money is Going

100% OF PROCEEDS will be going to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation– a highly respected, family-run charity which has been officially endorsed by many NYC officials. The money will immediately be used to provide much-needed resources to those areas hit hardest by the storm. Tunnel to Towers is very proud of the fact that no donations are being spent on overhead, and ALL hurricane funds are going directly to relief. 

Me again. Long story short: visit the Humans of New York website at, or look him up/follow him on Facebook or on Twitter. And if you’d like to donate, you can do so via (you may have to refresh the page a few times before it loads)

Attention NYC Area Photograhers: Helping Out With Sandy Relief

A few days ago, I posted about Will Salomon Orellana’s Help Portrait project to assist Hurricane Sandy victims. He was kind enough to send along this update:

Specific Help-Portrait Event for Hurricane Sandy families who were affected…..


289 Grand Street (Btwn. Roebling & Havemeyer Street)

Brooklyn, NY 11211 (Williamsburg)

Time: 6pm

Sorry I have been off radar….I finally got power back myself and am back online….

In a nutshell, I have created a Facebook group page for us to communicate better as many people on this forum have been inactive for years…

Please follow the link and add yourself to the group. I will then agree to have you on the group. Very easy.

Group Name: Sandy Relief Help-Portrait NYC (Free Family Portraits)


I am looking to focus this year on the areas most affected by Hurricane Sandy in NYC. Sites I am organizing in are Rockaways, Breezy Point, Staten Island and Coney Island….

We have a fast turnaround time here folks this is what we need:

This is a group for Photographers, Make up artist and anyone who wants to participate in volunteering for this years Help-Portrait NYC 2012 (Free Family Portraits) specifically for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Many of them have lost everything including family photos. The goal is to create a loving space where we can offer free family portraits as a gesture of levity and joy during this time.

What we need:
-Lead Photographers to connect with a community based organization to host the event and be the primary liaison.
-Photographers with full lighting set up
-People who can edit and print the images for the families
-Make up artist and/or Hair dressers
-General volunteers to greet, sign in families, share a smile and overall assistance.
-Donations for the paper and ink

From now on all communications will go through the facebook group: Sandy Relief Help-Portrait NYC (Free Family Portraits)

My email is for any questions or by phone at 347.683.7466

Peace and blessings,

Will Salomon Orellana

Rule 52: No Birds!


Although I suppose I couldn’t be blamed if he just wandered into my shot…

What brings this on, you ask? Having had power but no internet for much of last week, I set about cleaning up (read: getting rid of huge amounts of stuff on) my hard drive. Since most of what’s on there is photographs, I found myself going through lots of old — and sometimes not-so-old — photos, thinning the herd. And in folder after folder, I found bird shots galore.

I like birds well enough, provided they don’t poop in my general direction.* But, really, Hitchcock has nothing on my collection. I have scores of bird shots. No, scratch that, it’s probably closer to hundreds. And the thing is, I live in northern New Jersey. Around here, you get finches, pigeons, and sea gulls, and precious little else. I’ve never seen a heron or crane perched on the Hoboken pier (well, not that kind of crane, anyway).

Now, maybe you’ve never taken a bird’s photo in your life. But don’t go getting all smug just yet. My point isn’t (just) the birds.

Here’s the thing: we all have things that we’re drawn to, for one reason or another… things that we’ll instinctively photograph if they’re placed in front of us. For some things (our families, for instance) that’s not so bad. But for others… well, how many birds, or clouds, or sunsets do we really need to photograph?

“But it’s a gorgeous sunset/bird/hood ornament/Shriner’s fez,” you protest. Maybe it is, and maybe there’s a point, sometimes, in taking photos of those things. But if we’re going to go to the trouble of making a photo of something, maybe we should take an extra split second to ask whether it’s worth making the photo. And if the question isn’t worth asking, maybe — just maybe, now — the photo isn’t worth the space it takes up on your memory card or hard drive.

The point, after all that? Well, if you’re in the habit of shooting something just because, perhaps it’s time to rethink, and to come up with a better reason than “just because.” Find a new subject, or the discipline to find something truly different within your usual or favorite subjects. We don’t necessarily need to shoot as though our lives depended on it (hopefully it never comes to that), but it’s good sometimes to shoot as though something of our creativity and artistic sensibility depends on it, instead of shooting something “because it’s there.”

*Especially a bird with an outrageous French accent pooping in your general direction.

Hurricane Sandy: Resources for Photographers

Spring Lake, NJ, August 2012

Watch this space, because I will be adding to this post as more information comes in. If you’re a photographer who’s coordinating an event, please leave information in the comments section below, or email

Edited 11/5/12

Via Help-Portrait:

QUEENS****(Special Event)

ROCKAWAY (Families & Victims of Hurricane Sandy)

Lead Organizer-Will Salomon Orellana

Specific location TBA

Will have more information in the next coming days….

I am organizing a HELP-Portrait Group Event for families affected during Sandy in The Rockaway’s…I just visited and it is totally devastated. Especially Brezzy Point.  I will update when I have more info on Location…Am trying to connect with a Church there.  I will have more information in the next few days…..But in the meantime, I would like to form a group of Photog’s who can volunteer…Please hit me up and let me know if you can. and assist……This is a very special one as most families in this affected area have lost everything! Peace and blessings…-Will (

Souls Rebuilt:

A portrait charity founded just hours after Sandy swept through NJ, Souls.Rebuilt. offers “complimentary family sessions for families who have lost their pictures due to the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought”. They’re currently seeking both volunteer photographers and families in need of assistance. More information is available on their website, or you can follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Via Joe’s Pub:

This link will take you to a series of links for artists of all stripes whose works, studios, or livelihoods have been impacted by Sandy. Since the Pub (a.k.a. the Public Theater) is Manhattan-based, there’s quite a bit of information that’s mostly germane to artists in the five boroughs. However, some of the organizations and resources listed also work farther afield, so if you’re elsewhere in the tri-state area, take a look… certainly couldn’t hurt.

And again: More updates will follow as I receive more information. If you’re running a project, or know someone who is, please pass the information along!

Hurricane Sandy Resources

Asbury Park, April 2012

As I promised last night, here are some resources for those dealing with, or wishing to help in, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

(Updated 11/4/12; more updates likely to follow)

First of all, if you need help:

Federal Government Websites: Information portal for states effected by Sandy (FEMA’s dedicated Sandy page) (Post-hurricane tips)

State Government Websites: (New Jersey) (New York) (Connecticut)


Google Maps has an interactive map that’s filled with information on storm damage, power outages, gas availability, and quite a lot more. You can find it here:

On the other hand, if you’d like to help, the White House’s blog has some suggestions here:

If you’d rather go it alone, here are a few suggestions:

Start by reading this great primer from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR):

There is now a Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, the website for which is

Shore Helpers is another nifty resource I’ve come across that seeks to connect those who want to help with those who need it:

Donate. If it’s a national charity like the American Red Cross, they may have procedures in place to ensure your donation goes where you’d like; if you’re not sure, ask, and don’t be shy about making your wishes clear. If it’s something tangible — food or clothing, for example — call in advance to find out what’s needed. This can vary widely based not only on geography, but also on what the organizations on the ground already have stockpiled, or have already received. They may well be up to their ears in canned goods but short on toiletries, for instance; a tube of Colgate may go much farther than a can of soup.

Also find out if your employer will match your donations, either by percentage or in full. If they do, what you give will be multiplied that much more. If they don’t, consider donating online or by text message. The funds will often be available much faster to organizations much faster than they would’ve been if you’d sent a check.  And don’t forget smaller, often local organizations. Some of these, naturally, will be providing disaster assistance. Others may have missions not related to Sandy at all, but they’ll still need your help. People are unfailingly generous when disaster strikes, but often the donations flow to larger, better-known organizations at the expense of smaller ones, while organizations that aren’t doing disaster-related work often get hit hard at times like this because the money’s flowing elsewhere.

And since we’re all (or mostly) photographers here, use your talents to get the word out, along with visuals. is a good starting point to network with charities and NGO’s in your area, as is your nearest Red Cross or United Way chapter. I’ve also seen a couple of dedicated photo charities spring up in the wake of Sandy, and I’m in the process of researching those now (as well as reaching out to some established photo charities to see what they may have in the pipeline). If you’re short on time but would like to donate money, be sure to check Charity Navigator first.

In either case, do your due diligence; you want your time, your money and your talent put to their best use, rather than being wasted.

Questions, comments, suggestions, or further resources? Let me know in the comments section, below.

Site update, and a few words on Sandy…


Point Pleasant Beach, July 4, 2012

The aftermath of Sandy has left me sans internet access for the time being, which means that there’s a lot in the queue that… well, is going to remain in the queue for the time being.

Right now, however, that’s the least of my worries. In contrast to Irene last year, the area where I live now has gotten off relatively easily. Trees down, power outages, gas lines reminiscent of the ’70’s, but nothing major, and certainly nothing compared to the catastrophic flooding and damage seen hereabouts this time last year.

I wish that I could say the same of my hometown, and much of the rest of the Jersey shore. Large sections of Brick, Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Mantoloking, Asbury Park, LBI, and several other towns up and down the coast have either been severely damaged, or altered beyond recognition. The photos that’ve trickled across my newsfeed are heartbreaking enough; I’m afraid of what it’s going to look like once I’ve had the chance to go back and wander the places I grew up.

In the days ahead, once I’m back on line, I’ll be sharing resources for those who need help, and also for those who’d like to pitch in. This being a photography blog, I’ll be looking for opportunities for photographers to do what they do best, and pitch in where we can. If you know of, or are affiliated with, photo charities involved in the relief effort, please contact me (thefirst10000 at

For my friends, family, and neighbors back home on the shore, hang in there as best you can. My thoughts and prayers, however inadequate, are with all of you.