One Teen Challenge center is hosting a photography contest for both professional and amateur photographers. What a great idea for some free publicity for the center and getting good photographs! This isn’t a fundraising event in itself, although you could charge an entry fee and raise some money by auctioning the winning photos.
Invite local photographers to enter the contest, and announce a theme (e.g., “Breaking the Chains of Addiction,” “Hope for the Future,” etc.). Publicize the contest through online event calendars, local arts and industry newspapers, FM/AM radio stations, coffee shops, and so on. Be sure to contact all the professional photographers and photography clubs or organizations in your area, and see what great photographs are entered.
Include information about your theme. If your theme touches on drug addition, mention that in 2009 an estimated 22.5 million those 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year. Drinking and driving, binge drinking, suicide could all be themes; just provide facts and statistics to provide compelling reasons for the photographs. Allow photographers to photograph your students, with their consent, especially if it works with your theme. This can give you a good gallery of student photos to use for various promotions and well as promoting the ministry. Make sure beforehand that you acquire rights to use any of the photos.
Images touch emotions, and inspire people to act. The purpose of this photo contest is to encourage public dialogue on your theme, using real life photos as a catalyst for education, understanding, and action.
Give the contest dates and how the judging will be handled. For example, a panel of judges will decide the top five photographs, with the Grand Prize winner selected by (and give a date). The Grand Prize winner will receive a (whatever the top prize is). Talk with a photography store or other businesses about donating prizes. Make it worthwhile for a photographer to enter. Be sure to include where to send the photos, and that all photographs must be the photographers’ own work and not be previously sold. They will also need to have a modeling release from anyone in the photo for photos to be accepted in the contest. A statement similar to the following could also be included: ”By participating, each contestant and selected winner agrees to permit Teen Challenge to use his/her name, city and state, photograph, or any likeness for any fundraiser and/or for other advertising or publicity purposes without any additional compensation.”
Contact a gallery in your area about displaying the photographs and also display the photographs at one of your events, perhaps a banquet with them be auctioned off to raise funds for your center. Be creative in designing your contest and see what images appear.
Once you’ve held your event, be sure to let us know how it was received and what you learned, so we can share your experience with other Teen Challenge centers.