British commercial, portrait and editorial photographer Neil Tandy has called Long Island, New York, home since September 2011, following 24 years in Johannesburg, South Africa. His work has been published in South Africa and the U.S., in print and online. It has been featured on several corporate websites and exhibited in solo and joint shows. Tandy has also supported numerous worthy causes with his pro bono photography work.
Supporting Soweto Kids
One of his most heartwarming pro bono projects took place while Tandy was living in South Africa.
“In 2011, I saw a Facebook post from a young lady named Nicola Vogel, who was raising funds for food and gifts for two children’s parties being planned by an organization called Imizamo Yethu. It is run by an extraordinary lady named Dudu,” says Tandy. “Dudu’s dream is to open a full-time center for vulnerable kids in her Soweto neighborhood, many of whom orphaned by AIDS. I lived only 20 minutes away and wanted to help, so I offered to photograph both events.”
The first event was a celebration for Nelson Mandela’s birthday. The second was a party where neighborhood children would wish the South African rugby team good luck in the Rugby World Cup. It was also a prime opportunity for people to donate rugby and soccer jerseys for the kids.
Recalls Tandy, “I had planned to cover each event for two hours, but I was so captivated by the children’s joy that I stayed four hours at each.
To keep things informal, I used very little gear—a Canon Rebel T3i plus a Canon 18–55mm kit lens and a Sigma 70–300mm f/4–5.6 lens.
Nicola and several other young people put in countless hours fundraising and volunteering their time. They ensured the parties ran smoothly and the kids were well fed, entertained and looked after.”
After the parties, Tandy’s photos were posted on Facebook to expand awareness and funding for a neighborhood center for the children.
Painted Lady Meets Wounded Warrior Project
One of Neil Tandy’s most extensive U.S. pro bono projects involved a fundraising tour for the Wounded Warrior project, spanning a five-month period in 2014.
“I became aware of the project at an event in East Hampton, New York, liked what I saw and volunteered to do some photography for them,” he says. “New York car collector Frank Marzano had commissioned mixed-media artist Ben Moon to paint his signature white-and-black designs onto the exterior of Frank’s 1985 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur, which Frank and his family called the Lady.
The car was prepped by a special plastic dip paint to protect the original black paint. Ben was preparing to cohost The Pleasurists Too Event in East Hampton. Pleasurists is an art show as well as an auction/fundraiser to benefit the Wounded Warrior project. The Lady would make her debut there. Inspired by Ben’s fundraising efforts, Frank decided to auction off the car to benefit the Wounded Warrior project.”
From August to December 2014, “Our Painted Lady” toured events on Long Island and New York City. The tour culminated in an auction on CharityBuzz.com in December 2014, which raised $18,000. Tandy covered several of the Long Island events. They included a full photo shoot on the premises of ExcelAire at MacArthur Airport. He covered and took part in New York City’s Veterans Day Parade and other events where the Lady toured.
Pro Bono for Pros
From time to time, Tandy accepts pro bono photography projects. He has worked with models, actors, fashion designers or musicians, when he believes in the person. And if he also thinks that a good future working relationship may develop. He explains, “Because of the age-old ‘no budget available’ scenario, sometimes I will shoot for my own portfolio. This will benefit the creative individual as well. Generally, these projects evolve from meeting people familiar with my work, or while I am on event shoots or through friends.”
Doing pro bono work has had its advantages, he says. “I have made a lot of friends through involvement with these projects. I’ve been exposed to things that I might never have been otherwise. Also, I have been able to use the events to network and distribute business cards to increase awareness of my photography and business on Long Island, for which I am grateful.
“Because it is very easy to be drawn into doing pro bono projects and allowing them to take over, I advise anyone considering it to carefully choose what you wish to do. Focus on things that interest you. Also, clearly establish the ground rules of what will and will not be supplied. Most important, enjoy the projects you accept and do the very best quality work possible.”
For more on his Our Painted Lady coverage, go to: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ourpaintedlady/photos/?ref=page_internal. For more on his Soweto photos, go to: https://www.facebook.com/pg/imizanoyethu/about/?ref=page_internal.
Neil Tandy’s commercial, portrait and also editorial photography can be viewed at neiltandy.com.