Give and Take (Nothing)

For many photographers the concept is fairly simple. Give me money and I’ll take your photograph or sell you one that I’ve taken. The idea of getting paid to take a photograph is not a new concept and quite often becomes the desire of many aspiring photographers, myself included. For some of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you might recall some of my recent posts when I have talked about wanting to do more with my photography and use it for a greater purpose. Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing some research on organizations and individuals who are using their talents to take a photograph and get nothing in return. I thought I would pass along a list of organizations that have really impressed me. If you know of another concept or organization that I haven’t mentioned here please feel free to share back with me.

The Maple Leaf Mission is an organization based out of Edmonton Alberta whose mission is to provide portrait photography to families of individuals who are: facing a terminal illness, living with a debilitating illness yet demonstrates a life lived to the fullest, military families celebrating homecomings or deployment, soldiers returning injured from a tour. For more information on The Maple Leaf Mission visit http://themapleleafmission.ca/.

Help Portrait was started by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart. The concept is simple. Find families or groups who would like a portrait but can’t afford to have one taken. Single parents, underprivileged families, families affected by illness, army veterans, or just a neighbor. Go to http://help-portrait.com/ to learn more.

According to their website “Outside the Lens™ (OTL) is a San Diego-based youth media literacy program dedicated to celebrating the vision and voices of children around the world and across cultures. Students (K-12) tell their unique personal stories using photography, writing and other digital media forms while under the guidance of writers, poets, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, artists, and teachers.” I like this concept a lot. The idea of giving a young person a camera should help us see the world in a new perspective. Right now they are participating in a global photography project called Water in Focus which documents the use, waste, conservation and pollution of the world’s water supply. If you are interested in learning more about Outside the Lens visit them at http://www.outsidethelens.org/.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is an organization that has really captured my attention for personal reasons. The mandate of NILMDTS is to help parents recover from the loss of a baby. This might seem like a morbid type of charity but for parents going through a very difficult situation it might be an important part of the healing process. For parents of stillborn babies, and babies that die shortly after birth a photograph might be the only thing they bring home from the hospital. Right now they have over 12000 volunteers in 40 different countries.

Photo Philanthropy is an organization that is all about social change. They connect photographers with non-profit organizations around the world. Projects may include environmental causes, social and economic situations in places like third world countries, or education on a variety of topics. If you are thinking about donating your talents to a cause this might be a good place to start.  You can connect with them at http://photophilanthropy.org/.

If you are interested in learning about more organizations to partner with you may want to look at the website http://shuttermission.org/ or do your own search on philanthropy and photography.

“From what we get, we can make a living;
what we give, however, makes a life.” –
Arthur Ashe

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Shine

Without light photography would be a lot less exciting, and as
photographers we depend on it. Sometimes there is too much light, other
times there is not enough.  Without it we have no image. Light can expose
the good and it can expose the bad.  Sounds a little like life.

When creating an image I find myself torn at times.  I’d like to think that
most of the time I’m creating a piece of art that will move or inspires the
viewer.  I have to admit it though, far too often I more concerned with how
the photograph will make me look.   Is the composition OK, do I have the
proper exposure, or what kind of a compliment will it generate?

There are also times that I lack inspiration (like in the winter).  The
possibilities are endless but being so familiar with the place I live there
are times I don’t as they say “see the forest for the trees”.   Maybe it’s
not even inspiration as much as it is imagination.   There are times it is
just easier to take a picture of something just for the sake of saying I
did.

I’m not sure who this is for or if it is even for anyone but me.  I’ve had
a rough week, and I have had some failures to endure; some photographically
for clients, some personally and some spiritually.   It’s all been a
journey and a learning experience.  Not pleasant experiences but they have
taught me so much.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Life is a journey and it is the light that
helps us to see the good and bad.  The mistakes we make are a path to
learning.   As a photographer I still have a lot to learn and I think most
of us, regardless of what we are seeking to do, could all likely say the
same thing.

Don’t let where you are determine where you want to be.

Friar’s Head, Campobello Island, New Brunswick

Fear, Faith, Family and Photography

F.E.A.R – False Evidence Appearing Real

It doesn’t seem to matter what area of my life I look at there is one thing that is constant; I have a fear that I will look bad at whatever it is I’m doing. I’m competitive by nature and regardless of what it is whether sports, teaching, or photography I want  to be good at it.  Even though I bought my first camera 20 years ago and have taken thousands of photographs I still have doubts about what I’m doing.   So, to finally get the courage to work on and build a web site, tweet and now blog, I think I now know how a musician or singer feels when they get on stage for the first time.  Am I good enough? Will they laugh? What will the critics say?

Bass River, New Brunswick

“The key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Bill Cosby

I was comforted recently to know that I’m not the only one that feels this way from time to time. I was in a meeting explaining that I was feeling self-conscience in a class I was teaching when a Pastor and friend, said that they feel that way every Monday after preaching a sermon.  I thought that was interesting coming from someone who does public speaking for a living. They still worry after all the years of training and practice, will the message be remembered and applied or will the audience only remember the mistakes they made.

High Tide - Campobello Island, New Brunswick

So what are your fears and what are your talents?  Are your fears keeping you from using your talents?  Letting go of a fear is a challenge for many of us but you might be surprised by who you encourage. Take baby steps might be a cliché but it’s true.  It’s OK to start out small. Do you sing, dance, paint, or maybe like photography too?  Use your talent and encourage those around you to chase their dreams and to use their talents also.

I hope I never lose sight of my original reason for getting into photography; it isn’t to sell as much as I can, but to inspire those who view it. I want to remind others that we have an incredible amount of beauty around us and we need to take the time to enjoy it, and to take care of it.

I’m grateful to my friends and family who have encouraged me, to those who have mentored and still shoot with me.  I wouldn’t be at the point I am without all of you.

God-beams - PEI National Park

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. “C. S. Lewis