Taking photos for NGOs

Having worked at two very successful charities (Laureus Sport for Good, ELBA) before I became a photographer, I'm now always really excited to shoot for charities/NGOs. Theses jobs allow me to combine my two passions: photography and charity work.

I've shot events as a volunteer including some truly inspiring evenings on behalf of Magic Bus and their inspirational founder Matthew Spacie.

Matthew Spacie speaks at the Magic Bus Gala, Singapore, April 2014

Matthew Spacie speaks at the Magic Bus Gala, Singapore, April 2014


I have also been lucky enough to travel to shoot for various NGOs including Spirit of Soccer (Laos), Special Olympics (Korea), The Island Foundation (Indonesia) and The Tabitha Foundation (Cambodia).


Spirit of Soccer participants, Laos, April 2015

Spirit of Soccer participants, Laos, April 2015

Contestants at the Special Olympic World Winter Games, Korea, February 2013

Contestants at the Special Olympic World Winter Games, Korea, February 2013

Aung San Suu Kyi meets a participant at The Special Olympics Winter Games, Korea, February 2013

Aung San Suu Kyi meets a participant at The Special Olympics Winter Games, Korea, February 2013


Along the journey, working directly for charities as well as taking photos for their marketing and PR requirements, I have met some incredible people: charity workers, volunteers, celebrity supporters and of course the beneficiaries themselves.

I've been lucky that my work has mainly revolved around the use of sport as a tool to engage with young people with social challenges. Sport provides an excellent platform to teach and help these young people. It also provides a lot of fun and some wonderful photographic opportunities.

Shooting for NGOs not only provides superb photos, it also gives me a chance to reflect and to realise how fortunate I am to do what I do and to live where I live. I always come back feeling humbled and really motivated to move forward and take more and better photos.

Contestant at the Special Olympics World Winter Games, Korea, February 2013

Contestant at the Special Olympics World Winter Games, Korea, February 2013

Tabitha Foundation participants, March 2012.

Tabitha Foundation participants, March 2012.

Spirit of Soccer coach, Laos, April 2015

Spirit of Soccer coach, Laos, April 2015

Yao Ming at the Special Olympics World Winter Games, February 2013, featured in the  Shanghai Morning Post

Yao Ming at the Special Olympics World Winter Games, February 2013, featured in the Shanghai Morning Post

UXO Team, Laos....saving lives every day.

In March I travelled to Laos to take photographs for a football charity. The charity uses football to engage with school kids and  teaches them of the dangers of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Laos was the most bombed country ever with the United States dropping US$2m worth of bombs daily from 1964 to 1973 in the so-called 'secret war'. That is an average of one B-52 bomb-load every eight minutes over a nine year period...more ordnance than was dropped by all sides in WWII. 

UXO are a daily hazard for the people of Laos with regular injuries and deaths. Children can often find bits of metal in the ground and not realise what they are. The results can be deadly. In fact half of the 13,000 people killed by UXO have been young boys; so the work that Spirit of Soccer do is essential in saving lives.

Spirit of Soccer hooked me up with another group who save lives on a daily basis. I spent a morning with the UXO Lao team who are responsible for finding and destroying unexploded ordnance. To date this national organisation has dealt with 400,000 UXO.

The team were working in a paddy field about the size of a football pitch where the farmer has found UXO every year. After two days of looking they had already found 10 UXO. 

UXO marked by red dots in the farmer's paddy field.

UXO Laos Provincial Coordinator Kingphet Phimmavong and a shell packed with 'bombies'. Of the 260m 'bombies that rained down, 80m failed to explode, leaving a deadly legacy. 

Thousands of unexploded shells are dug up each year in Laos.

Thousands of unexploded shells are dug up each year in Laos.

The initial search is with a large detector. If this machine finds something metal then another member of the team locates it with a more sensitive metal detector. He then digs down to find the metal object; a job that requires nerves of steel and steady hands.

Once the object is identified as a UXO then it is marked with a large green bag filled with clay. When the team are ready to destroy a number of UXO together they place TNT in each hole and then run a cable back to the detonator several hundred metres away. 

Having warned the local area of of the impending explosion with a loud hailer, and with three of the team positioned on high ground, acting as lookouts, the TNT is detonated which destroys the UXO.

I witnessed two sets of UXO being destroyed. It was unlike anything I've seen before with the shock of the explosion going through me, even thought the explosions were quite a distance away.

The UXO team risk their lives every day to save others. The are incredibly cautious but even so there is always a high risk, especially when initially identifying the UXOs. It was huge privilege to meet these brave people and witness their courage.