Since opening Moorman Photographics in 1995, Rob Moorman has considered pro bono projects an integral part of his business. His St. Petersburg, Florida-based digital photography studio specializes in family and corporate portraiture, weddings, architecture and commercial photography.
Rob was taught by his mentor, Bruce Evensen, to always give back to the community that supports him. Now, he donates photography services to an eclectic mix of Tampa Bay organizations. They include the St. Petersburg Free Clinic; Kids & Kubs; Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay; New Life Solutions; 100 Shares Tampa Bay; and LCC Day School. The studio also donates auction items to local fundraisers. In years past, it supported Heart Gallery, Empty Bowls, WOW JAM, Help-Portrait, the local SPCA, CASA women’s shelter and the Morean Arts Center.
Pro Bono Rob Moorman Style
How does Rob find time for his pro bono projects? “We don’t find time; we make time,” he explains. “To help manage our typically hectic schedule, we include all post- production for our pro-bono events alongside the day’s assignment work. This enables us to send the final images out on a timely basis.”
The director of Development for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, a long-time client, hired Rob to take new headshots of her and the clinic’s board members. At one shoot, she asked him to photograph the clinic’s annual gala, a four-hour suit-and-tie affair with 500 guests, later that year. Rob agreed; he shot couples’ portraits as they entered the venue and took candids during the cocktail hour. “I covered the event with a paid assistant and spent four hours editing and uploading images, providing a quick turnaround,” says Rob.
Since 2000, Rob has also provided player headshots and photographed key games pro bono for Kids & Kubs. The senior softball club was founded 90 years ago to offer community, fellowship, physical activity and a sense of belonging to its players—men and women 75 and up.
“I realized the club’s membership was shrinking and the organization was getting lost amidst the city’s rapid growth. So, I secured the board’s approval to recruit a web designer, photo editor and two more photographers. Together, we started a Facebook page, created new advertising and preserved archives. We copied 90 years of historical documents, newspaper articles as well as photographs. We gave the 1,800 original documents and digital copies to the St. Petersburg Museum of History, to showcase the group’s past and present contribution to the community.”
More Moorman Support
In addition, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa has been a client and pro bono project since 1998. Each year it has an 800-guest black-tie gala. Rob photographs the gala at a reduced rate, as it requires three photographers and a week of editing.
“We also donate our time to photograph families who have stayed at Ronald McDonald houses. Most of all, l enjoy donating my time to creating Santa Claus pictures for the children at one Ronald McDonald House each year.”
Moreover, Rob offers donation certificates to local charity auctions; they typically include a location portrait session and an 11×14 retouched enlargement. “It’s a win-win situation,” he says. “Each charity raises crucial funds for its mission; our studio gets great exposure at the auction and the chance to meet a new client.”
However, pro bono and paid galas were postponed or canceled in Florida and nationwide, due to Covid-19. But when the St. Petersburg Free Clinic held a Covid-safe, drive-thru Hunger Free food drive, Rob was there to capture it. “Masked and gloved volunteers unloaded the food donations and weighed them. It was moving to see the community’s enthusiasm and support,” he explains.
Most of the organizations Rob supports use his images for promotion on their websites and blogs, in newsletters, social media and as thank yous to their donors. “Many of the charities give us a studio credit on event handouts and event displays in exchange for donating my time. The exposure is an unexpected but welcome bonus,” he adds.
Sincere. Genuine. Passionate.
“I feel that as business owners, our responsibility is to contribute to the communities that give so much to us,” says Rob. “My relationships run deep in the Tampa Bay area all because of giving back. It’s a very fulfilling, rich addition to our business and our lives.”
Thinking about pro bono? Says Rob, “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to always do your best no matter what the job is. You never know if your next client is watching.
“Be sincere, genuine and passionate about the group you choose to work with. Make it your priority to help move them forward with their mission. You’ll get back so much more than you give.”
For more images and information about Rob Moorman, go to moormanphoto.com.