Professional Photographer Volunteer opportunity in Peru – Product shots

Threads of Peru Co-Founder and frequent blog author, Ariana Svenson models a poncho

The process of getting weavings from the mountains of Peru to the international marketplace is a varied and interesting one, with many steps.

Once Threads of Peru has finished with the capacitacion and evaluation of the women’s weavings, they purchase the weaving.  In Cusco, it gets washed and added to an inventory.  Then, we need photos of that weaving to be able to list it on ebay, plus have a record of what that weaving looked like.

Threads of Peru head to the mountains with a camera and willing volunteers to act as models.  We think we have done ok so far – after all we are not professional photographers and certainly not models!

We are, however looking for professional photographers to help us in this task – see our idealist listing

We are also looking for professional models to volunteer – so if you are a model that has a folio and has been working in the field and can add some real “pizzaz” to our product shots, we would love to hear from you, and whether you would be able to give up a day of your holiday to do some modelling in Cusco! (We are looking for male and female models, and all sizes and ages!)

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About angiehodder

Threads of Peru is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization (ngo) registered in Cusco, Peru. The founding members represent the countries of Canada, Australia, and Peru. “Threads of Peru has been created to educate the world about the unique beauty and cultural significance of the Andean people and their textile traditions. Through the web, community tours, and international sales, we connect indigenous Andean weavers of Peru to a global market; contributing to the survival of this art form and to the health and well-being of the people that sustain it.” This is our blog where we write about our community projects and activities with community members. Our website it

8 thoughts on “Professional Photographer Volunteer opportunity in Peru – Product shots

  1. Why not pay a professional photographer and cost that into the product? If the weavers deserve to get paid, then so does the photographer!

    No disrespect to the project intended whatsoever,(I’ve been flamed in the past by other photographers for responding to similar posts in a similar way). I just think that the profession I’ve been a part of for other 36 years deserves to be treated with the same respect as the weavers of Peru, or anybody else for that matter 😉

    • Hello John,

      There’s no need to assume that we don’t respect the photography profession or think that they don’t deserve to be paid.

      In fact, we have recently paid 2 professional photographers in the past couple of months to do our product photo shoots. But we are a non-profit, working to help impoverished women, so every penny we save will go to benefit struggling artisans in remote villages in the Andes. This volunteer position was meant to attract professional photographers who are not struggling, and who are interesting in volunteering their much needed and respected skills to help a good cause.

      There are many non-profit organizations that rely on volunteer skills to help their mission. This does not mean they believe the skills are not not worth anything, it’s just that a lot of people are interested in donating their professional skills to a good cause, as it makes them feel good, adds to their portfolio, and non-profits often don’t have the money to spend in certain areas.

      Thanks for your comment, and I hope we have clarified why we are looking for photography volunteers. Two founders of Threads of Peru have been to art school where they studied photography, and they have a deep respect and love for the art.



      • Thanks for your reply Angie. I think you will find most photographers are struggling these days against a tide of freetardism. Maybe you could have worded your advert in a better way so that it didn’t come across as disrespectful of the profession.

        I read your advert on ‘Lightstalkers’ which is regularly bombarded with freetard ‘opportunities’. Usually they go along similar lines to your advert. ‘A great opportunity to add to your portfolio’. ‘Ideal for a student or recent graduate looking to increase their profile’, etc., etc.

        Fair enough if you are a non profit organisation not taking a salary for what you are doing. But surely if you have paid photographers in the past and costed this into your products, then you should be able to do this again, no?

        I wish I was in a position to afford to hop on a plane and spend a few days in Peru being altruistic. Sadly I’m not as I haemorrhage clients to people looking to ‘get into professional photography’ and working for free.

        Good luck with the project,


  2. Hi John,

    I’m a founder of Threads, and I volunteer all my time spent on this project. But I’m actually a freelance graphic designer, so I completely understand where you are coming from. Designers get the same “it will be good for your portfolio” and “freetardism” 🙂 requests from all sorts of businesses and organisations. Design competitions are also something that the design community is against, especially when it’s a for-profit entity. So generally, doing free design work is something that I avoid, unless I truly believe in the cause and the client really could use the free services. In that case, I’m usually more than happy to get involved as it’s often very fulfilling work. I don’t mind donating my services to a cause I believe in, and doing work that makes me happy is just a positive thing for me and my creativity. Sometimes client work can be boring, but it pays the bills and I have to do it, so I will gladly do fun free projects when/if I have the time. Well, I guess I do a lot of fun free design work for this project.

    In this volunteer position, we are looking for people who are lucky enough to be planning a trip to Peru or are already there, and would like to stop by and help us out for a day or so. We do pay for lunch and provide support like models and assistants to help out. And it’s important to point out too, that sometimes the photographer will get to travel to the remote communities where we work, for free. Travel agencies charge hundreds of dollars to visit these amazing villages, so the photographer donates their skills and essentially gets a free trek out of it as well. The communities are very remote and one would never be able to get to them on their own. It’s hours driving and then trekking through the mountains to reach them. Of course this is not always the case, because it depends when the volunteer arrives, what type of photos we are looking for etc. But it’s something that we have done several times, and both us and the volunteers were very happy in the end – we got some gorgeous photos and they got a unique experience that many travellers do not get.

    But you are right, we could word the position better. And I thank you for bringing it up and having a conversation about this.

    And yes, we have paid a photographer and we do factor it into our costs when we can. But the truth is, sometimes we simply cannot. And if we don’t have a volunteer to help us out, then we have our staff do it with a point and shoot camera, which as I am sure you know, is just not the same. None of the founders are paid for the work they do for this project, so when I tell you that sometimes we just can’t afford a professional photographer, I am being honest. It takes a lot of money to run this project, so sometimes all of our money is tied up with buying inventory or running the development projects in the communities.

    The thing is, there are professional photographers who very much enjoy offering their services to non-profits, especially when they are in Peru travelling anyway and want to give back to the people they are visiting. I know a lot of photographers are struggling. A lot of professionals are struggling in this economy. But like I said, this was geared toward people who are lucky enough to have the ability to help out.

    I really do appreciate the conversation. We will think this over as we write our volunteer positions. We certainly do not want to offend or disrespect anyone in the profession, or any other profession for that matter. It’s just nice to talk about these things, from one creative professional to another.


    • Thanks for your considered reply Angie. I have worked for charities myself for free in the past-that was my choice and I have nothing against people working for free for charities if they want to do that. My concern is with companies and some well-off charities who do expect free photography as a given.

      To be fair your advert was honest and not too badly worded compared with some I’ve seen that take ‘freetardism’ to new heights! You’ve also posted my reply when most people would have binned it and snapped off an angry e-mail telling me to mind my own.

      If I win the lottery and can then afford a flight out to Peru, rest assured you’ll hear from me soon! In the meantime I’ll leave it to the Leica-toting trustafarians and professional photographers with a large income 😉

      Best wishes,


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