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136 Our First Encounter With The Brilliant In All Senses Lions In Pink Who We Would Get To Know Pretty Well

Why I use photography to support charities

Ken Skehan ARPS explains how learning to use a camera has helped him fundraise for causes close to his heart

‘A first encounter with the brilliant Lions in Pink’ by Ken Skehan ARPS

 

I signed up to join a charity trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in 2004 as part of my pledge to raise £5,000 for Meningitis Trust (MT). By the time of the trip in 2005, I hit upon the idea of writing an article about someone who knows nothing about photography taking a decent camera and lenses to somewhere special and seeing how I got on. Amateur Photographer liked the idea and commissioned me, so I called Canon and asked if they would give me a camera to do the article and if I could keep it to auction for MT after the trek.

Farming At 15000Ft
CREDIT: Ken Skehan

‘Farming at 15,000ft’ by Ken Skehan ARPS

 

So, I had to learn how to use the camera. The tutor at the adult evening classes I went to happened to be president of Swindon Camera Club, knew I was pretty good on my feet from my commercial background of training and presenting, and so invited me to address his members after my trip and show the pictures I took. I won’t pretend they were all brilliant, but they liked them enough to invite me for a pint afterwards, when a couple of members said they thought I could sell some of the images. 

Laura's Bluebell Wood
CREDIT: Ken Skehan

‘Laura's Bluebell Wood’ by Ken Skehan ARPS

 

I blagged free mounting and framing and held an exhibition in my local pub, sold 54 images in one night and sent the Sherpa who helped me most when I got ill on the trip enough money to build a house – £1,500. I was hooked, bought the camera myself, and the rest of my photographic journey began.

I ran a commercial photography business alongside other income-earning strings for many years, including organising, managing and judging photography competitions for companies. We invited employees to send in pictures they thought were good enough to grace the walls of the offices they worked in, thus creating office art that was really meaningful to the people who worked there. It’s how I got involved in the medical imaging charity Cobalt. An RPS member who heard my presentation is a supporter of Cobalt and knew about their plans for a competition, so asked if I would help. They are using my competition website for free. I raised the prize sponsorship with Suzanne Allen LRPS, regional organiser of the RPS Western Region. It’s a cause I firmly believe in so I have tried to help with media exposure too.

034 On The Way To The Highlanders Stadium 1
CREDIT: Ken Skehan

‘On the way to the Highlanders stadium’ by Ken Skehan ARPS

 

In 2017 I joined the more than 25,000 fans of the British and Irish Lions rugby team who had travelled halfway round the world to New Zealand to watch the cream of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh rugby take on the mighty All Blacks on their home turf. My goal was to produce a book celebrating the role that fans play in making the highest level of sport what it is today. I also wrote and photographed a fans’ blog for the Telegraph website.

It was an extraordinary experience and the book Focus on the Fans: Lions Tour 2017  raised a few thousand pounds for rugby-related charities. I’m now selling copies at a highly discounted rate but still giving £8 per copy sold to the charities. I’m way out of pocket, but that was never the priority.

 

The RPS Western Region has helped the medical charity Cobalt organise a national photography competition to finance a dedicated nurse who will support young adults with cancer at home. Submit your entries to Capture a Moment for Cobalt by midnight on 31 August 2021.