08 July 2013

What I Wish Photographers Would Do, Part 3

Art Model, Kristi C. ©2013 Terrell Neasley
Alright. Here we are at the last and final part of this series, "What I Wish Photographers Would Do." And this third part is probably the one that means the most, benefits you the greatest, and cultivates the photography trade in the best manner possible. So as a matter of much import, this last part should most likely have been brought up first. However, in the natural order of things, it has to come last. Now where are we? Number 1...Stop giving away work. Number 2... Study your trade. With the first point, I'm trying to get you to respect yourself and this business. We already make it seem too easy with our clients. There's no reason to validate that notion. And with the second point, I want to illustrate how important it is to grow your skill set and improve your ability to get a shot in any situation. So what's the third part?

Part 3: GIVE BACK!

Art Model, Kristi C. ©2013 Terrell Neasley
Now this third part comes last in the natural order of things because it operates under one primary assumption: That you have been successful at the first two parts and now HAVE something to give back. Let me elaborate on this a bit further. If you haven't studied your trade and you continue to give away your money in the form of cheap services and hi-res images, THEN YOU CAN'T HELP THE NEXT GUY COMING UP!! Giving back is simple. You take the knowledge that you have learned and you help that new batch of aspiring photographers learn a thing or two about the trade. THAT'S giving back.

Or how about this. Volunteer! "Wait...volunteer? Didn't you JUST say quit giving away your work?" Yes. Yes, I did. And I mean that shit. Volunteering is something entirely different. A portion of your work and time can still be donated to a worthy cause. The brand new couple who just became parents that spend $5,000 dollars on a new crib and $20K remodeling the room for Jr, but balk at paying you $500 for good family pics is NOT a worthy cause. That's business. However, if this same family, who has just spent all this money, is devastated because they suddenly find out Jr. has a terminal birth defect...Well, if you volunteer to do remembrance photography for them...THAT'S a worthy cause. I don't care how much money they make. Losing a kid hurts the same across the economic scale.

Art Model, Kristi C. ©2013 Terrell Neasley
I've talked about the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation on this blog before. Everything I do is at my own expense. Every family gets my best work as if they are paying me top dollar...but for free. It serves my community, it serves my trade, but it also serves my own heart. Give back. When the young man or woman admires your work, honors you with praise, and then asks for some advice, guidance, and suggestions on how they may also achieve, take a second to light that path. Chances are, you didn't get there on your own. Somebody helped you learn the ropes. Pay if forward. Give back. But I know... everybody can't do NILMDTS. I get it. If you can, great. If not, find your thing. My good buddy Scott Roeben is a complete NATURAL at shooting kids. I mean... A NATURAL. He, and several other friends shoot Joy Prom every year. That's his thing. I can't say its my gift. But we each do our thing and GIVE BACK!

Art Model, Kristi C. ©2013 Terrell Neasley
How else can you give back? Find a worthy cause...check. Teach a new photog...check. How about donate some time, prints, or gear to an auction raising money to beautify your community, fight cancer, or help out the homeless. Okay, you're right. That still sounds like just another worthy cause. Okay. How about this then: Every 7th paid gig you do, offer to do an under-privileged family for free. There's no cause to it. Its just an altruistic gesture for somebody that wasn't even expecting it in the first place. Somebody who normally could not afford you gets your full and undivided attention as if they were one of your top-billed clients. How about that? What else? I don't know...YOU BE CREATIVE! Come up with some of your own ideas. I don't care. I just wish more photographers were giving back. Give back. It does your heart well.


Joanie said...

Yes, yes, yes, YES!

To this day, my time at Joy Prom is remembered with such happiness and love. I'm trying to get a local church to set up a Joy Prom here, too.

There are also organizations like Operation: Love ReUnited - photo sessions for our deployed military. Pre-deployment sessions, photos of loved ones during the deployment sent off in 4x6 folders, and/or homecoming shoots. It's a lovely, lovely way to give back on any number of levels.

Photo Anthems.com said...

Indeed there are many options to give back. I'm glad you did the Joy Prom with Scott. My hope is that the readers will also be creative to find different ways they can be committed to something like that.