My “Trade Secrets”

[Update: just got an email from Zeke at Trade Secret Cards. He wanted me to let you know he’s already sold about 25% of his inventory in just 3 weeks. He’s hoping to have unloaded the 5000 number by the end of the year… Let me put some of that money back into the photo industry… He’s also posted a YouTube clip of a photo tip I gave him from the interview here.]

I love it when people–especially members of this community–take ideas and run with them. This one is no exception…

A couple months ago, I was approached by blog reader and founder of a company called Trade Secret Cards, Zeke Kamm. He had a business proposition: He’d come to Seattle, pick my brain about various different pictures in my portfolio and then he’d put together a pack of 22 glossy, high-end cards that illustrate “how to” re-create each picture. Soup to nuts. Diagrams, equipment used, what I was thinking, etc. He sells ‘em and gives us cut.

We agreed to his proposal and for about $20 you can–starting today–buy these illustrative card packs here at www.tradesecretcards.com or at national photo retailers like Midwest Photo. Cool idea on Zeke’s part – 100% his thingie.

And, fwiw, what’s with our 10%? I’m giving it away. Here’s the fun twist. I’m putting 100% of our cut back into the photo community. Zeke has printed 5,000 sets of cards. They go for roughly $20 each. So if my math is correct, we’ll give every dime of $10,000 bucks back into photo community if Zeke sells all his cards.

How shall I put this money back into the community? You tell me. I’m all ears. Let’s not put the cart before the horse, of course, we’ve got to help Zeke sell these cards, but I’d love to get your ideas in the comments below about how you’d like to see the money spent back into the community. My 10% is actually your 10%.

Another card example and link to other cards after the jump. Click the ‘continue reading’ link below.

And lastly, if you like the Trade Secrets concept, Zeke has also done a set with my good friend David over at the Strobist community. Buy those too, also available at the Trade Secret Card site.

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Fetterolf says:

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Hai Triano says:

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Being a 'young photographer' you can't blame me for saying definitely would be best spent on the youth photography scene. Not necessarily helping one or two kids through college, but more looking at the wider picture. Maybe some kind of workshop in seattle like your Flickr group, but to inspire young photographers rather than the already pretty savvy people. If I lived anywhere near there I would be dieing to attend it!

I am in the process of making a kind of web magazine for upcoming, talented young photographers. They inspire me so much, and I want to share that inspiration with the world. I'm goinng to be showcasing their amazing (and at the moment undervalued and unnoticed in the wider community) work, and also giving them career advice and tips from any 'professionals' who are willing to reply to my emails.
I would love to help you in any way I can.. I'd love to see something like your Flickr meetup happen in London and open to people of all ages, regardless of photographic ability (within reason obviously).

Hopefully in a few months once my 'blog/magazine' is going real strong (modest?:) I will have the opportunity to share it with you, who knows, maybe it will even inspire you. There's amazing talent out there.

Jeez I'm on fire! ^ Back to the point. A Seattle flickr meetup but allowing (and encouraging) the participation of younger photographers :) … and major brownie points if it's in London and you let me come!

Take it easy, and I'm sure whatever you do with the money will be worthwhile!!!

Nathaniel

Dean says:

I got my cards a week ago and I've been playing with them since. great card Chase. I def keep them in my camera bag. Worth every penny.

Glen Edwards says:

What about using the 10k to put on an Exhibition of work from yourself and other great photogs, with talks and workshops, make it a real photo hub.
You could open it to the public for free, or charge a fee, and use the money from that to donate to a charity, making the money go further? You could open the expo for free, but ask for a dollar donation or something??
Unfortunately I live in Australia and wouldnt be able to come to such an event….bugger!

Lucia says:

Hi Chase – I have been devoting the past year to taking the "last portrait" of hospice patients and people in the late stage of life – I am trying to fund the project to make it into a traveling show to raise social awareness – the project is called "My Life" – http://www.lucia.zenfolio.com/mylife/slideshow – if you could help getting this off the ground and on its way to be shown all around the country, any help is greatly appreciated – I have been approached by pharmaceutical companies to get the project sponsored and I sold my car rather than cheapen it like that. Seriously. And if you have ANY ideas, please let me know… thank you .
In Peace and Light
Lucia

Wrus says:

First of all, I just received my cards and love them!! I have been spreading the word about what a great product this is. Secondly, I would look into the " KIDS WITH CAMERAS charity. just watch "BORN INTO BROTHELS" and you will understand what these great people do!
WAY TO GO CHASE!! Your are my idol!

jeremy says:

I ordered these this week, they said would take 2 weeks to ship, got here in like 3 days so super kudos for that. There are a couple photos in here i had loved of yours and its great to see how they were done…i noticed it says "volume 1"…can we expect "volume 2", maybe this time sprinkle in a little camera & lens info tooooo????

Michael Shay says:

After hearing what you're doing with your profits from this thing, I had to buy a pack. After your speech in PDX, Chase…I gotta admit I'm more and more impressed by how you walk your talk. Keep up the good work!

cheers

Michael Shay, VP ASMP Oregon

Jarle Aasland says:

Wow!

How about a photo contest for your followers? Two or three different categories, a $2500(or whatever) grand price and the rest divided between other winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd in each category). That should generate a lot of interest, traffic, goodwill and probably some sales, too. Win-win for everyone! And an inspiration for everyone to go out and shoot!

314photo! says:

Thats awesome!
you should have a student photo competition, and split it among three of your favorites, to help aspiring photographers

Tim C says:

Well my cards just showed up at the door. Talk about FASSSST shipping, i sure wasnt expecting that. I just ordered them a couple days ago.

Oh and i should mention…. Their Really Nice too.

thobert says:

I have worked along high school photographers while shooting high school sports this year. Just like HS music programs, Small HSchools don't have the resources to provide decent equipment and are often left to donate or old equpuipment. I would love to be able to provide a few schools with a good camera a couple of lenses and a decent flash. maybe a photo contest between the schools.

I liked the idea of helping photo students. However, all of non-photo-student-professionals could also use a hand sometimes.

I know you've done loads already, but perhaps that money put back into tutorials and resources free to the public, or with a free subscription (advertisers may like that sort of thing) would benefit more people with photography.

People who have been helped out are more likely to help others out, in my opinion.

Thanks for asking.

Levi

Perati says:

May I suggest spending it to cope with stolen cameras issue? It may be a website where the victims can post the details of their stolen camera such as serial numbers, and the buyers of the second hand camera can check if the cameras they are going to buy were stolen or not. The more popular this website is, the more helpful it will be, especially when we can persuade the second hand camera shop to use our website. We also should create a trend of checking serial number before buying any second hand equipment, for example having a photo of serial number posted when you sell your cameras on Ebay. I know chance of getting stolen cameras back to the owners is quite dim, but I guess this idea could help a number of people.
If this website grows, it would be very effective…..this might take years…but well worth it

Living in Los Angeles I've driven through some very poverty stricken neighborhoods. I was born and raised in Chicago before moving to New York and the same held there.

I spent a fair share of my youth at the Boys Club of America (boys or girls clubs) kids are the future and are always a great way to give back.

Jerry Avenaim
Jerry Avenaim Photography Blog
Jerry Avenaim Photography Site

Tim C says:

Just ordered my 2 sets, yours and davids with cases. Your work is always dope, there was no way i was gonna pass the cards up.

As for the charity what about donating the money to scott kelby for the orphanage?

You should do a second trip to Seattle – like the one you're doing for "The Best Camera." A few of us in far away locations (like Hong Kong) will probably get your book a little too late to participate in your contest. Great idea, but a bit schedule-restricted :-)

These look really awesome, Chase. Stocking stuffer for me maybe! =) I'll let my wife know. Good luck with it.

A thought for where to donate the money. How about something that encourages photography as an expressive art with under privileged kids?

Scott Larsen says:

Ok, I wasn't quite ready to present an idea that's been percolating in my head for quite a while but I can't let an opportunity like this pass without piping up. I'm hoping that you might be able to help me help others. My idea is still in its infant stage but essentially I'm hoping to use my and other photographers skills to highlight the work of non-profits and NGOs around the globe to enable them to more effectively convey their mission and, most importanly, raise funds to carry through on that work. I've found that the most rewarding photography that I've ever done has been work for non-profits both here in the States where I help out our fantastic local mentoring program (http://www.committedpartners.org/) but, even more so, abroad. On a recent trip to India and Nepal, through a series of amazing coincidences on the ground, I had the pleasure of documenting the work of several agencies operating, among other things, two orphanages (one in each of the countries), a school and health clinic in suburban Kathmandu and a community center in a remote village in the foothills of the Himalayas. Many photographers have made one-off trips to highlight individual efforts around the world but, despite their fantastic results (see Tyler Stableford's recent video at http://bit.ly/2ulR and David duChemin's work for World Vision for two great examples), they are just that, a lot of effort in a busy photographer's schedule for the benefit of usually a singular organization. My hope is to get photographers on the ground full-time, tap into a city's network and saturate its organizations before moving over land (to save money) to the next nearest concentration of non-profits. The organization would no doubt start small (me!) but the idea would be to get more photographers involved (full-time or perhaps short-term volunteer stints) and ideally to teach locals (wouldn't it be great to train former child soldiers, orphans, trafficked women, etc.) the skills and provide the equipment to extend the dream. Taking inspiration from Doctors without Borders (Medecins sans Frontieres), and with a nod to photography parlance, I've registered the domain name BorderlessPhoto.com (no website yet). As for the long-term viability of the project, my hope is to make it a self-sustaining operation with sponsorship from associated companies – camera manufacturers, lens & accessories companies, computer companies, clothing & outdoor equipment companies, airlines, etc. Individual donations would never be turned away and there's always the possibility of books and fine-art prints taken by the photographers during "off-hours" but while still on location. I had been planning on chipping away at this with what meager funds I have so the $10,000 would simply be a swift kick in the pants to get things off the ground. More importantly, and perhaps despite the results of the monetary prize, I hope to tap into the amazing network that Chase has assembled here online. Have input or ideas, please, please get in touch. As I said at the start, this is just a kernel of an idea but I think it is one with amazing potential. I'm betting that we could multiply that initial $10,000 many fold in the service of these great organizations. I hope that all of you can help get this dream off the ground.

__________________________
Scott Larsen

http://bit.ly/1pHnkc – a quick, albeit unfocused, sample of the work I mentioned.

ajira says:

This looks amazing… I'd love to do it. Never made a film in my life but you've given me a number of reasons to give it a go!! :-)

Mat Francis says:

I think the money should be donated for a class to help soldiers coming back from deployment or getting out of the army who are seeking a photography profession. Most soldiers spend more time at combat then in the States these days, and even photographing images overseas has to be quick and to the point. Taking pictures of anything overseas is more in camera and less set up. I have taken photos in Iraq, and I can't use softboxes, flashes (other then on my hotshoe), or any other tool to make a photo look it's best. Having the chance to use professional gear would be a great experience. http://twitpic.com/p7pfa

As an award to a photography competition in the community?

OurExplorer Sightseeing Tours
Travel through the eyes of a local

Adam says:

Cool, you rule…

Amber Fox says:

I would love for my students to be the benefactor of such a generous gift. I have been teaching black and white and digital photography for the past 8 years at a public high school in LA and also head up a film academy that we started 2 years ago. Your cards would help facilitate me in delivering some cool photo methods to the kids and the money could be used to buying some up to date digital SLR's. And my kids would be super excited that the gift was from Chase Jarvis! Maybe you could even come as a guest speaker to my little sophomores in the film academy. Thanks for this great opportunity!

I like the idea of giving it as a scholarship to a worthy photography student or students, one who is going to take out a lot of money in loans, or cant go somewhere because of money. I wanted to say give it to a school who could otherwise not afford a photography program, but what would happen after the $10,000 ran out?
Anyways, its really cool that you are giving that money away.

I think that a Chase Jarvis scholarship would be a great idea. There is lots of potential talent in underprivelidged groups, if only they had the chance!

marksherratt says:

Hi, Great idea! This might be a bit far away from you, but I teach a photography class at a youth project in South London, we get roughly 20-30 under privileged young people and we have been doing some exciting stuff with them, running competitions, getting them to photograph their environment and at the moment we are using lights and trying to shoot some commercial looking pictures about how they are perceived in the community. However the project has only managed to afford 2 dslrs (450d's) and I take my cameras and other equipment and people share and take turns borrowing them for a few days. We have tried to get some funding from Canon and Nikon, but haven't really had much luck, soooooo if you wanted to use any of that money to buy some cameras for these young people that would be amazing! Even a few more would make a massive difference. Thanks.

I'm for helping someone out. I say pick a person who does not have the ability to buy their own gear and give them a jump start in this expensive giant that is photography. Starting photographers, some of which work in the photo industry (by borrowing others equipment or working for a company who supplies it) have the hardest time diving into what they love because of the financial burden of getting started. Now, I agree everyone has to earn their keep and get their chops or steaks or what have you but, there are creatives out there who could really use a nice …. lets say "creative grant" to help them further themselves into what they love and have a passion for. Hopefully this helps in your decision. You can call it the "Chase Jarvis grant for young creatives" … it's got a nice ring to it.

hanskainz says:

Give it back to the community! Start a competition (photo/video) like the "nikon" challenge. The first 5 get each $2000 for photo equipment. Another way is to give it to me, as i need a Nikon D90 with two SB-900 flashes.

Nick M. says:

How about giving a digital photo kit and some lessons to one or more of the former sex slaves rescued by The International Justice Mission? Most of them do not have education or job skills. After being rescued they still need help moving on and living normal lives. What better way to move on then to learn an art that can potentially provide income and additionally shine light on the conditions that lead to modern slavery? http://www.ijm.org klausalan@comcast.net
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nickmatley

Apeiron71 says:

I ran over and bought both editions. Can't wait to use 'em. Chase…you are a hero to many aspiring photogs.

Well, I know that Scott Kelby already raised a lot of attention and money for this, but how about sponsoring children at the The Springs of Hope Kenya Orphanage (http://www.springsofhopekenya.org)?

10K would provide 12 kids with housing, food, clothes, schoolbooks, tutoring and a life in a safe and loving environment for an entire year.

Anonymous says:

I ordered he cards a few moments ago. Looking forward to trying them – got the strobist set too.

I'm glad you want to give back – giving to some students would be nice!

Digger

I would suggest using the money to fly several people out to be your assistant and shadow during a shoot (one at a time). People can read about photography all they want online, but they will learn so much more by being in the moment.

It's like a crash course internship for aspiring professionals in photography, production, business and relationships.

Make it a contest. Communication is key in business, so people should explain why they want the opportunity, along with a photo and their vision behind it. It could be a letter, a blog post or a video. Be creative.

Chase, it's obvious you're very passionate about what you do and it would be a wonderful gift to share it with those less experienced.

Fantastically awesome on both your parts. Thanks for sharing, now let's get to buying and selling!

To follow the portrait theme, maybe portraits of foster kids looking for homes?

fas says:

Innovation has no restrictions.

Amy Ralston says:

I love the idea of Trade Secrets, and even more giving back. HOW ABOUT buying cameras and other supplies for those who are financial disadvantaged, BUT have a sincere interest in photography. Such as high schools or community colleges?

Jamie says:

what about using the dollar to buy some camera gear and computers for people in less well of country's, thus allowing them to join the self publishing world that we live in on the web. If the equipment was targeted at the right people they could use it to publish their own news on subjects that matter to them, rather than us relying on western news reporting to do it, and giving them their own independence and ability to do it them selves.

Use the money to buy a load of point and shoots, donate them to your local centre for adults with learning difficulties. Set up a project for the learners to document their life stories, host it on the web. Good karma all round and a sustainable learning opportunity.

Timothy says:

I would love an underground photography session in the South East (Orlando, FL). Maybe the money could be used to fund that type of endeavor because then its giving directly to the photographers. There should be a stipulation that anyone attending the event must pay it forward in some way and submit their story to you. Take all the story and make a book. Sell the book and keep the cycle going.

photography student!!!!!!

photography student!!!!!!

thinedge says:

You could donate to a program that teaches photography to youth in under-served communities.

Like ICP at The Point – a photography program in the South Bronx.

http://bit.ly/14MUml

"Located in the South Bronx, ICP at The Point is a thriving photography educational center that features a classroom, studio and darkroom facilities, a business, and a gallery. The goal of the program, a partnership between ICP and The Point Community Development Corporation, is to teach photography in the community as a way to foster self-esteem, communication skills, professional experience, and community revitalization."

Hieu Nguyen says:

Wow this is probably the best idea in awhile that ive seen Great to learn and inspiring…by the way the 10% should go to more Photography work shops nation wide to help photographers who struggles with questions and problems…

joshuatoro says:

hook up a help portrait event. It's a great idea and could be used for printing costs.

Trudy says:

I like the donation idea for Help Portrait. Maybe also have a "cameras not guns" thing like "guitar not guns" workshops that I've heard about to get kids in urban/rural areas interested in photography as a positive activity.

Charities and photography students are always a notable cause, but I'd suggest getting back to the theme of the trade secrets cards themselves; developing a unique style and process through both fundamentals and creativity.

Give 10 Strobist/Photography groups around the world 500$ each to fund a collaborative creative piece within their communities on a given theme (ex: Big City Life or Having Fun). Each teach would need to plan the entire process out (and hopefully include some awesome videos and pictures along the way), from brainstorming to planning to execution to post-production. Each team would submit a 10 page spread by publishing a small book and mailing it to you through Blurb or a similar service.

The winning team will have you fly out to their city for the day, donate the $5000 to a good photographic cause in their community and learn from your expertise.

At the end of the day everyone wins. The communities win through the winning donation. The photographers win through a compelling experience and your visit. Your social 2.0 experiment wins because you'll now have a collection of 10 books demonstrating the creative process and style of 10 cities across the world.

Ben Cochran says:

What I meant by the above is: provide a charity with a photography marketing piece that they can then use for fund raising. (Not just general portrait photography.) The marketing collateral has a much larger return, for them, than just the $1,000.00 donation.

Sorry for the multiple posts, wanted to be more specific. :)

DOH! I was just at Midwest a few days ago and purchased David Hobby's trade secret cards – now I have to drive an hour and 15 minutes one way just to get your cards – (well worth it – Midwest is like a crack house to me!)

Thanks Chase – can't wait to get some cards.

Mike

Ben Cochran says:

Instead of spending it, why not make it an investment? What I mean by this: Invest it into a marketing piece for a charity that allows them to raise for more in perpetual funds. This sort of investment can mean untold thousands of dollars by using the smaller funds to deliver something that helps them raise huge amounts of funding. Pay yourself for the shoot and donate the gift of what you do best?

Many seem to forget that we still have 501c3 orphanages in the states as well, just one idea.

Good on ya for this Chase and yes, I have already donated some time to an orphanage as well :).

Gallo says:

That is a pretty cool idea Chase! I like the idea of a community gallery/reception.

Andrew says:

Great idea to give back to the community. Perhaps the money could be invested in the production of more ChaseJarvis RAW videos?

I think you should host a one pot meal that shows off the printed works of local photogs. The money would pay for food, a gallery location (rent a SAM wing for an evening), and large framed prints. Being an ex-Seattle-ite and considering I get my large prints for free you're getting this from an unbiased source. Heck, I might want to fly up to shoot a short documentary about it.

jeremy says:

I would use the money to stock up the pantries of at least a couple local food shelters/soup kitchens, then have local photographers volunteer their time to cook and serve thanks giving and shoot a photojournalistic piece on the day, and give the guests a real traditional thanks giving, complete with crazy uncle bob snapping everyones photos…

Anonymous says:

Giving money to a photo student seems like a luxury considering how many people struggle with more important things in life. Find a worthwhile photo-related charity that can affect a change in someone's life. That's where MY 10% would go.

P-Dog says:

I'm with Levi – use the money to fund a workshop/gallery for youth.

Levi Matthew says:

I think it'd be sweet to fund under privileged kids of some sort with some cameras, maybe nikon could hook it up and get some photographers to donate their time to teach some camera basics at a work shop just for the youth. Let them use creativity as an out let, then work towards getting a gallery of their work and do an auctions to raise money for their community (be it ymca, or something else constructive). It will give them a sense of importance, it will let them earn money rather than them be a charity case. it will raise awareness to whatever their needs will be, and it will strike an interest in education. AND it could give other photographers a chance to connect with the community and be teachers and mentors to those who need it. win win friggin' win!

Steph says:

It would be awesome if it went towards some kind of grant/scholarship for Photography students!

Tony Polito says:

If at all possible assuming the cards can be sold soon enough … the money should somehow be used to help fund a Help Portrait shoot …. thats giving back 2 times over.

I like the idea of a scholarship to a photo student, if it's set up with PCNW then two community members benefit from the gift, the student and the school.

Perhaps a grant to an individual or two to produce a body of work. Once completed, sell the work to further benefit the photographer, and perhaps perpetuate a program.

Or keep it simple – sponsor a show of emerging photographers, paying for printing and framing.

Mike Wilson says:

Very cool! I seem to remember hearing about this… maybe on one of your video blogs. Nice to see it in action! :)

Qua Veda says:

This whole creative flow is wonderful ! the cards, the sharing, the new ideas that come out of it !!

Use it to create the Chase Jarvis Giving Foundation. Just as you need to shoot what you love, you need to give to what you Love.

Trenton says:

I like the idea of giving it away to students, as mentioned above, but I don't necessarily like the scholarship idea. One of the the things I've noticed about scholarships, is that, quite frankly, they're never fun. They go to things like paying the bills, tuition, etc., nothing you ever really want. With that said, I'd suggest sponsoring a couple of students to go to Seattle for a week or so and learn directly from you in the studio; to see exactly what happens on the business side, as well as the creative and technical side. I think that if it were something that I, as a student, were to receive, it would be a lot more valuable than a scholarship.

joeyg says:

definitely picking them up.
i say use the money to rent a giant warehouse or a big venue for the day, invite seattle photogs, and have a giant help-portrait day up there. or agreed with sageg, use it to help print a bunch of the help-portrait pictures.

Frank says:

Donate to local schools – photo equipment – AND have a local photographer work with the school on the care, use, and integration of visual media/literacy into all curricular areas, not solely art classes.

Maybe this is an application for the school for a grant – and with it comes the help of the local photographer .

I'll promote these on Saturday when we have our meet-up a couple doors away from Midwest Photo!

Paul says:

Fabulous action all round, congrats.

I suggest you use the money to support a project I heard about yesterday. A group of professional photographers photographs members of the public who've never had a loving portrait of them made. They set up a studio and give each person an image they can frame.

The idea is to give people a life-enhancing gift which may change their self-image for the better and have big ripple effect in communities.

Wish I could remember where I put the link but if you're attracted by the idea, I'll provide it.

ps sell those cards in Europe

Chris Biele says:

What a great idea on both accounts! I must say, Chase, your generosity knows no bounds.

So about that 10%… You could start an all new web-based community where people from all over the world could upload their images after editing them with any app they chose. And you could call it something like The Greatest Camera… Awesome Camera… Sweet Camera. I thought maybe Best Camera, but that ones already taken ;)

Good on ya.

Aaron says:

Buy 20 DSLRs for a high school photography teacher.

Sam says:

Very good of you!!

How about getting a bunch of point and shoot digital cameras and donating them to a youth organization? (maybe approach one of the camera companies and see if they will match it).

bryutas says:

I'm kind of w/ José with giving it to a student…but sort of in the same vein, I say it goes to a budding graduate to help start up their studio.

Tim Maestas says:

I think setting up some of those flickr roundups that you do in a couple of big cities.. but i dont know how much that would cost so it might not work..

Jon Shermack says:

How about an ad campaign on the value of professional photographers? choose custom over stock, Talent is a commodity…ideas along that thread

Colleen says:

Perhaps use it to curate a show featuring community members, and host an opening reception?

Keep the $10k and figure out what you would discount your daily rate for. Give that many days away for small intimate classes at your studio for people who are willing to pay their own way to learn.

Sebastian says:

Maybe that 10% coulde be a kind of shcolarship in some workshop, zack one light maybe. Or maybe you sould start your own workshop whit that.

Give back it's always awesome.

Phil says:

I second sageg, use the money to set up free printing for help-portrait! 5 8×10's or something per photographer participating.

Awesome! I love that people love giving back!

Maybe pick a few photography related charities (whether big or small) and people can vote who gets the funds?!

Jose' says:

this is an incredible idea, how about give the money to student perusing a photography degree.

This is awesome! I signed up for help-portrait and might try to snag these before hand so I can help people even better! THanks guys!

Sarah Goblot says:

Oh how cool!!!

Giving back…let's give to the people who need them? How about an account at a printer for people doing charity sessions for assorted organizations (NILMDTS, Think Pink, Help-portrait…)

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