Capturing the Magic of Dish: Cuisine for Change

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May 3, 2019 By: Tina Mortimer Category: Partner News

When someone mentions they volunteer for Second Harvest Heartland, the first thing that undoubtedly comes to most people’s minds is sorting and repacking food. Yet working with food is only one, albeit highly visible and important, job that volunteers do. For example, we rely on skilled volunteers to help facilitate packing sessions, provide administrative assistance in our offices, conduct agency outreach and much more. Then there are the volunteers who lend their unique expertise to help with special projects and events. One such highly specialized volunteer is photographer Tom Dunn.

This year marked the 16th anniversary of our signature fundraising gala, Dish: Cuisine for Change, and Dunn’s eighth year capturing the event in photos.

Photographing the hours-long event is no simple task. Our signature fundraising gala has many moving parts, which means a plethora of different moments to capture. Taking pictures of guests is only one part of the job. There’s the food, the chefs, the auction items and the entertainment to capture.  It’s a magical event to be sure, and for those who’ve never been, the pictures give an inside glimpse of the festivities — and what they’d have to look forward to if they were to purchase a ticket.

“Dish is such an incredible event to photograph,” Dunn admits. “Everyone attending, sponsoring, working and volunteering are there for an incredible cause and you can feel it in the air. The red carpet is rolled out with fabulous food, auction items and entertainment. All these elements mixed together make for a memorable evening and one that is unlike any other event to photograph.”

While the commercial and art photographer said most attendees are more than happy to strike a pose, photographing people eating can be a bit of a challenge.

“Just think of the photos you have growing up and eating around the dinner table during a holiday,” he said. “I am very mindful to watch out for awkward eating moments and to only click the shutter release when the time is right.”

Dunn has been a freelance photographer in the Twin Cities for more than 13 years. On the commercial side of his business, his passions include photographing people at work, and on the more artistic side, capturing urban black and white street scenes. His personal passion is photographing the moon on special celestial events. He’s photographed celebrities—many of whom were entertainers at Dish, including his personal favorites: Dana Carvey, Kevin Nealon and Billy Gardell. This year, Dunn had the opportunity to photograph comedian Kathy Madigan.

So how does a commercial/art photographer come to be a “paparazzo” for Second Harvest Heartland’s special events? His relationship with our organization goes back a decade.

“Back in 2010, I told a friend who was working for Second Harvest Heartland of the huge respect I had for the organization and its mission,” Dunn said. “My wife and I married in 2008 and in lieu of gifts we asked for donations to be sent to two of our favorite charities, one of which was Second Harvest Heartland. Knowing of my appreciation, this friend asked me if I would be interested in photographing some small events. That ultimately led to photographing Dish for the first time in 2011 and the Vintner Ball a year or two later.”

Like so many of our volunteers and supporters, Dunn also has a personal connection to Second Harvest Heartland.

“I have a friend and another acquaintance who have needed the help of a local food shelf at one time or another,” he said. “It helped them in their times of need and was a bridge that took them to a better place.”

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Put your time and talents to good use! Opportunities for skilled volunteers exist in many different areas. Find your perfect fit. 


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