I've Waited Over Two Years to Publish This Post.

I still remember the first time I ever put together a cost estimate for a nonprofit client. I had no idea what to charge. AII I knew was that I really, really wanted to work with this organization. I dug around on the internet for guidance. I called a friend for advice. But ultimately I pulled numbers from thin air. It took me years – yes, years! – to figure out what to charge for my work.

I don't want you to go through what I went through; and so my business partner, Laura and I are excited to share our first online course over at NGO Storytelling. Registration is open now until June 7, 2019. The course starts on June 8, 2019.

We’ve been working on a project for over two years and we’re finally ready (and excited!) to share it with you. Our online course, Pricing Nonprofit Photography, is live and accepting students from May 31 to June 7, 2019.

Have you ever struggled with how much to charge nonprofits for your photography? Feel guilty about asking nonprofits to pay you for your photography? Don’t have a head for numbers? Let us help you!


We created this course for other humanitarian storytellers when we realized there’s one question readers ask us over and over: “How much should I charge nonprofits for my photography?” We’ve tackled this subject on our blog numerous times. But it was becoming clear that people wanted more details and guidance. So, we decided to create an online course filled with videos, worksheets and bonus materials to help you better understand what you need to charge and give you the confidence to say yes to the right jobs and no to the wrong ones.

Who should sign up?

This course is right for you if you’re a photographer, photojournalist, visual storyteller, or a person with an interest in photography and you are confused about what to charge for your services. It’s a short, self-directed study on setting the prices that are right for YOUR business. The experience is designed to give you specific tools that will help you understand what you need to do to stay in business.

Who shouldn’t sign up?

This course isn’t right for you if you want help finding clients, creating and negotiating contracts, creating shot lists or learning what to do on assignments.

If you want us to give you an exact number to charge, this course isn’t for you. Every photographer’s numbers are different and we’ll teach you how to calculate yours. And that number can change on a regular basis based on your overhead, how many days a year you work, and how much income you bring in.

This course might not be right for you if you're an experienced photographer with established business practices that are working for you. We believe that experienced photographers can learn something new from this course but it's likely more beneficial to photographers in their early to mid career.

This course is not right for you if you want to know how to find work with nonprofits. We haven’t made that course yet. But we did do a podcast on the subject.

It’s not right for you if you’re looking for a one-on-one business or life coach.

It’s not right for you if you don’t want to do any legwork. Accurate calculations require reviewing past receipts and estimating future expenses. If you’re expecting us to hit the easy button for you then this isn’t the course for you.

It’s not right for you if you’re looking for an easy way to make money. There is no easy way to make money in the photography industry. It requires creativity, varying income streams, and lots of sticktoitiveness. You really need to love it to be here and we can only show you how to set your numbers so that your business has a real chance of success.

How much time do I need to commit to this course?

If you watch all the videos, fill out all the worksheets and listen to the podcast all in one go, you should be able to finish everything in about one hour. We strive to give you the the fundamentals of pricing in a short amount of time so you can apply them to your business immediately. Now that’s an hour well spent!

How much does this course cost?

The course fee is $129 unless otherwise stated due to a sale. It must be paid in full upfront before starting the course.

We know how hard it is to commit your hard-earned cash to training when you’ve got bills to pay and gear to buy. But staying in this business means valuing what you create. We can help you calculate a creative fee that is fair both to you and the nonprofit organizations you work with.

You may feel awkward asking organizations that do such life-affirming work in the world to pay you. But remember: your professional pictures and stories will help them share their mission and bring in funds. Also, they are businesses – ones that must show a zero balance sheet at the end of the year, granted – and so are you. Just as they invest in great people and technology to keep their organizations running, you, too, can invest in yourself with this course to further your professional development and keep your business running.

I hope you’ll consider joining me in this course. Have more questions? Visit our comprehensive FAQ or email us at hello@ngostorytelling.com.

How Education Changed My Life: Deepa’s Story

By Deepa Khatri, as told to Crystaline Randazzo

The BlinkNow Foundation provides schooling and a home for orphaned, impoverished, and at-risk children in Nepal. Founded by Maggie Doyne, the organization also provides community services to reduce poverty, empower women, improve health, and encourage sustainability and social justice. This post was originally posted on Medium.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

remember my first day at Kopila Valley School. I was in seventh grade and I did not speak English. I attended two schools before coming to Kopila, but I had never touched a computer or read a book before. In those schools someone would take attendance, the teachers would write on the board, but they never even talked to us.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

It is totally different at the Kopila Valley School. It’s more like a home than a school. We have teachers, aunties, and uncles who are all looking out for us. They give me snacks. They talk to me about how things are going at home. Everybody cares about me.

Going to school here changed my life. I learned many things and met so many people. I learned how to speak English and how to use a computer. I learned how to learn. I learned everything here.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

My life was really hard before I came to Kopila. When I was younger, my dad left our family. He was an alcoholic and abused my mom, my brother, and me. My mom was seriously injured and had a hard time taking care of us. My father remarried but continued to make our lives difficult. It seemed like he wanted us to be unhappy.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

My favorite part about going to Kopila is that everyone shows me love here. I never expected that other people would stand up for me. This has given me a dream to share all of the love in the world that my father could not. I want to care for my mother, my brother, and other women and children who are going through hard times.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

After I finished my studies in twelfth grade, I interned in the Accounting Department at Kopila Valley School. After my internship, I applied for a job with the accounting team and was hired. Now, I get to work at Kopila every day!

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

I’m a girl whose life is affected by domestic violence. I’m so glad that I am at Kopila. I have learned how to help other women and children. In Nepal, there are lots of children who grow up just like me. I know how hard it is. I know what it’s like to be hurt and have to show a smile in front of other people. Before I came to Kopila there were many times where I thought it would be better to die than keep living. I want to show others who might feel like that way that we all have problems, but we should work hard, and good things will come to us.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

©2017 Crystaline Randazzo. All Rights Reserved.

I would like to say thank you to the people who have helped me. I received everything I needed from Kopila. I do not have the right words to thank you, but I will say a blessing that you will receive happiness. I will never waste what you’ve given me. And I will do my best to make you proud.

Kopila Valley School provides a quality education and nurturing environment to at-risk children in Surkhet, Nepal. The BlinkNow Foundation is helping to educate students like Deepa and provide them with the tools they need to complete their education. Support girls like Deepa at www.BlinkNow.org/donate.

A Year In Review: A Photographer in Nepal

A Year In Review for A Photographer In Nepal

As my first year in Nepal draws to an end I’m feeling nostalgic about all that I saw and did this year. Nepal is an incredible place and it’s not hard to see why so many people are drawn to its magic. I spent 2016 wandering its streets, trying to make sense of all I’ve seen with my camera.

I thought it would be appropriate to end my year of story by choosing twelve stories (one for each month) that have left the greatest impression on me since my arrival. Some cover work that I did, many opened a door for me to learn more about culture and religion, and some I stumbled across by accident. Regardless of how these experiences happened, I’m grateful to live in a place that has such an abundance of culture, faith, and truly kind people. 

Maha Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of the god Shiva. It symbolizes overcoming darkness and ignorance in life and the world.

I participated in this festival with a local Nepali photographer who had been photographing it for several years. His relationship with the sadhus (Hindu holy men) makes it possible for me to take this spectacular image.

These three sadhus can be found in the first shrine on the corner across from Pashupati temple on any given day in Kathmandu. I once witnessed them forcibly boot out a visiting sadhu who had unfortunately chosen to set up shop in their designated spot. Their relationship with each other draws me back to the Pashupati.  

Madhav Narayan

Madhav Narayan is a festival and one of the most difficult rituals practiced by Hindus in Nepal. Devotees undertake a month-long fast, walk barefoot in the cold winter mornings, and take a chilly, holy bath in the Hanuman River by the early light of day.

Around me, women loosen their hair and prepare their offerings before entering the freezing water. They disregard the trash that floats up around them and rinse their entire body, including their mouths. Many light candles at the water's edge and chants fill the air.

Samyak Festival

Samyak Festival is held once every four years by the Newar Buddhists of Kathmandu. They preserve the Vajrayana tradition (one of three ways to enlightenment). Over a hundred statues are brought from all over Nepal so they can be worshiped simultaneously. 

Seto Machindranath Temple. Kathmandu, Nepal

Seto Machindranath, also known as Janabaha Dyo, is a deity worshiped by both Hindus and Buddhists. This temple is believed to have been established around the 10th century. Each year, the deity’s image is placed in a chariot and paraded around Kathmandu.

This was the first temple that I photographed in Kathmandu. The outside of the temple is intricately designed with beautiful metalwork and in the morning light streams in from the left side of the temple and glistens on the golden walls.

The temple is surrounded by pigeons, and worshipers feed them daily. The belief is that if you show compassion to another living being, you will bring good fortune to your life. It is my favorite temple to photograph in Nepal.

The Boy Monks from Dohla

Over the last year, I’ve built a relationship with a Tamang community that was displaced after the earthquake and one of the nonprofits that is helping them. Their homes and livelihoods were destroyed and there was no hope of rebuilding. The community has been living in tents for over a year. Their lives are far from easy, which is why I joined a project supporting them in building new houses in a new location.

I photographed a group of children from this community who left their homes to join the Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery. They are between six and ten years old.

For some, joining means a roof over their head, food on the table, and education. For others, it is an honor to their devout family to have a Buddhist monk in the family. Almost every family from Dohla has sent at least one of their children. One monk tells me he joined at 14 because he knew it was the right thing for him. I don’t know why these children are joining today, but I am grateful to be present for a small part of their journey.

Moti Maya

Moti Maya was only seventeen when she experienced her first earthquake­ – an 8.4 magnitude shock that struck Nepal on January 15th, 1934. Eighty-one years later her home was destroyed by another massive quake that also killed four people in her small village. After two months of living in the destruction with very little food, Maya Moti left everything she knew and went by helicopter to start a new life in Dhola with fifty five other families from her community.

She spent the last year living in a tent, but remains in good spirits. She finds all these changes in her life exciting and says nothing remains for her family in her old village. She expects she will die soon but is pleased that her daughter, son, and grandchildren will soon have a safe home to live in. Moti Maya’s wish is that her community will live in harmony while undertaking their project of building their 55 homes.

The community of Dohla is in the final stages of building their homes. The members of the community have worked daily with support from Shenpen to rebuild their homes. They have been homeless for two years. They need your help to finish the project. 

Mother Maya

The community of Dohla is in the final stages of building their homes. The members of the community have worked daily with Maya Tamang is 32 years old. Before the earthquake she had never carried rocks, sand, or rods. She didn't know about building houses. But she has learned to do all these things and take care of three children on her own.

On the day of the earthquake she was working on the ridge of the mountain. She rushed home after the shaking. Her house was gone and her children were terrified. Her husband never came home that day, and they never found his body. He had gone into the forest to collect wood; the entire area was covered in landslide. 

She stayed in her old home for over a month before she was moved to Dhola with 55 other families.  She is doing outdoor work for the first time in her life. She cooks, gather woods, and water. It is very difficult, but she is happy to be part of the community effort to rebuild their homes. As of December, she and and her children will have been homeless for over two years.

support from Shenpen to rebuild their homes. They have been homeless for two years. They need your help to finish the project.

Pashupatinath Temple. Kathmandu, Nepal.

Pashupatinath is a famous, and sacred temple located on the banks of the Bagmati River. It is considered one of the most sacred temples of the Hindu faith. The temple serves as the seat of the national diety, Lord Shiva. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pashupatinath is a sacred place for Hindus to be cremated and open air cremation takes place daily. The eldest son of the deceased shaves his head and completes the burial rites.

The banks of the river are lined with ghats (bathing spots) for use by pilgrims. Arya Ghat is of special importance because it is the only place where holy water for Pashupatinath Temple can be obtained and is where members of the royal family are cremated. The main cremation site (pictured here) is Bhasmeshvar Ghat.

Ride Bicycles Not Elephants: Chitwan Nepal

I spent July 4 celebrating not only the independence of America but also Tiger Tops, the first lodge to allow their elephants to go chain free and eliminate the practice of elephant rides.

The process of obtaining and training elephants for elephant rides is truly terrible, and their lives after they’ve been trained aren’t much better. Tourists who choose to ride elephants help promote unethical practices and mistreatment of elephants.

So when the opportunity came to go to Tiger Tops and support their efforts in ethical tourism, I was all in. I wasn’t disappointed. While we didn’t ride the elephants, we spent time with them as they took their baths and walked through the jungle with them while they ate. We also visited them in their specious, chain-free enclosures.

This year, I’ve had several opportunities to put my tourism dollars towards organizations that are doing good in the world. And I believe that post-earthquake Nepal needs tourism more than ever. Tourism provides jobs and opportunities to advocate for people and creatures alike. Search out the right opportunities, and you can make some change in the world.


I’ve been dreaming of going to Bali since I first watched Eat, Pray, Love in college. This year for our seventh wedding anniversary, my husband and I flew there to spend ten days in the beach and the jungle.

These types of adventures make me grateful for the transient life that we chose. I will never forget this trip and I’ll be forever grateful for a partner who values experience the way I do. 

Fishtail. Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal.

This year, Dashain, the holiest festival of the year in Nepal, coincided with my 34th birthday. My husband proposed that we start my newly minted year off with some adventure: eight days of trekking to the foot of Annapurna I, the 10th tallest mountain in the world.

On our fourth morning, we got up before dawn to hike from the base camp of the holy mountain Machhapuchhre to our final stop at Annapurna Base Camp. In our final ascent we ended up at about 13,500 feet, far short of the 26,545 foot peak. But from our vantage point we were on top of the world! As we walked on the path through the dark, stars twinkled around Annapurna I, and then the sun crept over the mountains to take our breath away.

Along the way we met people from all over the world. Our fellow adventurers were Nepali, American, British, Dutch, Swiss, etc. People of every age are drawn to this magnificent hike. At one point, we were told by an intrepid hiker, “I’m seventy seven years old, what’s a few more hundred stairs?” I hope that I can apply his philosophy throughout my life. You’re never too old for another adventure. 


Boudhanath is an ancient Buddhist stupa and one of the largest in the world. I’ve been documenting the site on a monthly basis since my arrival and am struck by both the serenity of the place and a feeling of constant motion.

The first piece of advice I was given about Boudha was never walk counter clockwise around the stupa. This Buddhist practice known as circumambulation. Circumambulation is the act of walking clockwise meditatively around an object of veneration-three times or more as a gesture of respect. Doing so reminds Buddhists to keep the Buddha’s teachings in the center of their lives.

The stupa was damaged significantly during the earthquakes of 2015. The temple was rebuilt this year by a team of volunteers and workers. It was incredible to document the devotion to this sacred space.

Thank you all for coming along for the journey and following my work. I look forward to 2017 and all it brings. May you have a wonderful holiday season!

Compassion is My Superpower

I am an empathetic person. I cry during movies.  You might even see me shed a tear when a commercial pulls at my heart strings. I feel things deeply, and there's nothing I can do about it.

My empathy turned into a problem when I was a graduate student. I was told that I wasn’t tough enough to be to be a photojournalist. I’ve been shooting for fourteen years (albeit I prefer documentary photographer to photojournalist). My compassion allows me to connect with people around the world and to tell their stories.

Sometimes my compassion and intuition tell me to put the camera down.  I can feel if my subjects are uncomfortable and I am duty bound to do what is best for them. Sometimes I choose to put the camera down so I can share experiences over a cup of tea. There have certainly been a few lost photographic opportunities. But I'd choose human connection over a spectacular photo any day. And I appreciate a spectacular photo.

I spent the last few years working exclusively with nonprofit organizations. It’s a magnificent way to see the world. But there are heartbreaking moments in between. I have come to discover that my job is not just to show up with my camera. My job is to capture reality and stay within the bounds of human dignity. My job is building a story that does not reduce my subjects to one-dimensional sad victims of life. My job is to use the human connection to dig deeper into the narrative.

My method requires time. It requires cultural understanding, curiosity and being open to where the story leads me. My life is surprisingly similar to the people I meet. No matter what their life story. We are all just people living our lives. 

Even the most vulnerable people that I photograph seek understanding. They have the capacity to improve their lives, they simply lack resources. I believe that compassionate storytelling holds the key to connecting vulnerable people with those resources. I hope my stories will inspire others to act with humanity, kindness, and purpose.

I look at the world, and I realize that I lucky enough to win the genetic lottery. I get live where meals are plentiful, health care is available, and I go to sleep at night feeling secure. I’d like to think that it is because of my hard work. But I was born a leg up in the world. So I try to take all that I was given and give back in some small way. So I tell stories. I meet people. I strive to understand the world beyond my own reality. But most of all, I try to have compassion and empathy for all the things I can't possible understand. 

My empathetic connection with humanity isn’t a weakness. It’s a superpower.

2015 Hunger Report from Bread for the World Institute

In March, I had the opportunity to travel with a team from Bread for the World Institute as they gathered information for the 2015 Hunger Report. The institute's goal is to educate policy makers and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. The 2015 Hunger Report explains why ending discrimination against women and girls is crucial to ending hunger.

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I am thrilled to have some of my images included in the report, but more importantly to have a small role in educating the world about the experience of women in Rwanda. Take a few minutes to read the report and learn how women are the key to addressing hunger in international communities.

It's Time to Define Your Photographic Identity

I recently wrote a blog on being paid what your worth and I got some interesting feedback from other photographers.  There was one comment I couldn’t get out of my mind. You shouldn’t spend your energy trying to prove your worth as a creative. You should show why you are different.

Initially, I struggled with this feedback. My inner ego shouted, “I bring value and should receive the pay I deserve.” But the idea continued to pester me. What is it what sets me apart? Do I even know? I came back to this question many times over the next few weeks. It was time for me to understand my identity as a photographer.


Cultural Awareness

I want to do more on a photo shoot than just show up with my camera. I want to try to understand my subject. I want to have a relationship with them. But I have limited time on most of my photo shoots, so the work on the relationship comes before I’ve ever met them.

I spent time in each country I live in learning the local language and reading about the history of the place that I will be working. I am always amazed that a simple greeting and introduction in Kinyarwanda opens doors for my work in Rwanda. This small effort on my part changes the dynamic of the photographs that I create.


Technical Understanding

I am a voracious learner. I came into the industry as a creative, not a technician. But I have spent the last thirteen years sucking up knowledge via degrees, books, workshops, and online classes. I. I do not limit myself to studying only photography but also business and innovation. I believe that my passion for learning has been the best asset in my pursuit of greatness in my craft. I find knowledge in both my successes and failures as both teach me to be a better photographer. This pursuit of technical understanding forces me always to strive to be better than I was yesterday.


Personal Passion

I began to dream of being a professional photographer in my early college days, and I haven’t been able to shake it. I cannot imagine a future without my camera. That is what gets me through the tough stuff. When I doubt myself,  I look back at my first portfolio of work and I see the journey. Progress is simply putting one foot in front of the other. I understand that I cannot do without photography. It is as much a part of my identity as breathing.

7 Ways to Keep Your Sanity When Your Camera Card Fails

At some point in your career as photographer, you will have technical difficulties. If you have a great digital asset management system in place, it won’t happen often. But at some point your camera card or your hard drive will fail. The question is what are you going to do about it?

Read More

Do You Know How To Use Your Digital SLR?

I have been approached multi times since I've arrived in Kigali about teaching a photography workshop. I officially have put one together so you can take better photos. 

Do you have an awesome camera? Do you know want to know what to do with all those buttons? Do you want to make better pictures? I am hosting a half day workshop on June 28th in Kigali. This workshop is specifically for digital SLR cameras. Contact me today to reserve your slot! Location to follow registration.

This workshop it 50% Lecture and 50% Application. You will need a digital SLR camera. You will learn about basic gear, exposure (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO), focal length, semi automated settings, light, and composition. 



My Rules for Taking Pro Bono Photography Work

So you get the opportunity to work with a super stellar international nonprofit that is doing amazing things, but they don’t have a budget for photography. Should you do the work for free?

I know I am not the only person who has ever been tempted by this situation.  All you really need is a few guidelines in place to help you make the best decision for yourself and your business.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All rights reserved. The Nyamirambo Women's Center is a community organization in Kigali, Rwanda that provides computer courses, Kynarwanda literacy programs, and English classes to women in the community. NWC is a probono project for 2014.


Are You the Only Person Working for Free?

Only take pro-bono work when 95% percent of the organization’s staff is voluntary. If everyone else is being paid a salary for the value they add, then you should be too.


Limit the Number of Free Projects You Take

You aren’t making any money from this project. As a business professional you need to limit the amount of time that you spend working for free. I take two projects per year. This helps me to be choosy about the type of projects that I accept. I really need to love what the organization is doing in order to get involved.


What Does It Do for You?

I know this sounds selfish but you should only take pro-bono projects that do something for you. Build up a portfolio in an area where you’d like to work. Try out some video on a nonpaying client before you unleash your skills on the world. You need to be motivated to do the work beyond just charity or you might resent it later. Most important of all, you need to own the copyright for all the images or product. You won’t be paid for your services, so the images should be yours to do with what you will.


Be Clear About Your Time & Deliverables

If you’ve agreed to do a pro-bono project, I guarantee that scope creep will occur and a small project will balloon into a major time suck. You’ll agree to photograph an amazing project on clean water for children and on the way to the shoot you’ll be asked to do some portraits of the head of party or photograph their sister medical project.  You want to stop this before it occurs.

Treat your pro-bono clients just like your paying ones. Draw up a contract. Be specific about how much time you will spend shooting and editing, and what their deliverables will be.


Educate Your Client

On the day I deliver the final photos to my probono clients, I show them the photos and explain how I think the images can best be utilized on their website or annual reports. I also give them an invoice so they can understand the value of what I have just given them.  I want to show them how photography and visual story telling will benefit them in the long run.  I want them to see the value of what photographers can do for them.

I never do more than one pro-bono project per organization, as I don’t want to create a dependency of free photography. And I hope that by following my guidelines and educating my clients I’m laying the groundwork for the organization to hire photographers in the future. 


What are some of your rules when working for free??