Saturday, April 18, 2009

Think of the Children!

Why bother? Why go to the trouble to get really, really, really good at photography if you aren't planning to make a living at it? You've got albums of snapshots lying around, right? How many of of your snapshots are so good that your great, great grandchildren will be hanging them on their walls? I've picked up a few clients so I go even further. How many of my client's great, great grandchildren will be hanging my images on their walls? You may never collect a dime from you photography but that doesn't mean they aren't worth far more than you realize. Let me just push you a little, what if you invested in your ability to capture images from your life as dillegently as you are investing in your 401K? (You are investing in your 401K right?)

Maybe I'm just too caught up in my lineage but I sometimes study the photos of my heritage. Does my son have PaPa Martin's cheek bones or is he really going to grow up to be a clone of my wife's brother like I suspect? Man, I wish my grandfather had been as great a photographer as he was a soldier. I would love to have a display of his images from World War II next to the Japanese officer's sword he captured from a smuggler in Okanowa near the end of the war. He gave me that sword as an testament to my proud lineage before he passed away, but you know what? The old black and white photo of him holding that sword is even more valuable to me. I can go to any Army surplus store and buy those swords by the dozen but I could never replace my Grandfather's sword, the one in that photo. I have no idea who shot that image but I thank God he was there at the time and that he knew what he was doing.

If you ever feel the urge to become immortal, reach over, pick up your camera, hold it out at arm's length and snap a shot of your face. Now, turn the camera around, hit the image review button, look yourself in the eye and ask a simple question, "what am I going to shoot today that my great, great grandchildren will count among their treasures?" Not every single picture you take has to qualify, but wouldn't you like to have at least one? What are you willing to invest to get that one shot for your heritage?

How good do I personally want to get? As good as my great, great grandchildren are going to wish I had been... Hopefully even better. I want to earn a spot on their wall, not a corner in their drawer. The fact is, that if you earn that spot it probably won't just be your heritage that finds value in your effort. You may pick up a client or two with their own heritage in mind. You may even make a living at this some day, but don't count that accomplishment, or lack thereof, as a measure of the value of your photographic gifts. We are each and every one worth so much more than we know... Especially when we are armed with a camera and the knowledge of how to use it well.

Of course, I still reserve the right to bump my shoulders a bit and reduce the size of my abs in Photoshop... you know, for posterity's sake. :-) It's not just a picture, it's a visual document of a moment in an immensely valuable life. Learn accordingly. Be better than good - Leave a legacy!

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