When an opportunity comes in your life to give back to others, please take advantage of it. Just once.
I've always found great pleasure in donating my time however I could. Community cleaning projects, Den Mother and Treasurer of the Cub Scouts, etc.. Finding a way to donate my time through photography was by far the most enjoyable thing I've done.
Last year a friend of mine sent me an email with a link to a local news channels website. They were looking for photographers to donate their time for a Help Portrait event being in held in Henryville, IN to assist the families who lost a lot (if not all) of thier belongings in the deadly F4 tornado that ripped through Southern Indiana on March 2nd.
My first response was "Thanks for thinking of me but I am not good enough to do this". So I decided I shouldn't volunteer with the event but kept the email to send to other photographer friends that I thought would be good enough. I didn't want people who had experienced so much in the past few months to come in expecting superior photographs and get matched up with me and leave there not being satisfied. A few days later I realized I was being ridiculous and that I was good enough to do this. People would appreciate it. It is by far one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I went to the event a nervous wreck. I wasn't sure what to expect and wasn't quite sure of what I was doing because we were shooting studio shots and I'd never done that before. As soon as I arrived I met a super nice guy named Nate. I'll admit he seemed a little frazzled at the moment and I didn't know how to take him. I wanted to grab my camera and run for the door but I don't quit anything once I make a committment so I stayed. I was paired with another photographer from Indianapolis, Tim Biddle. We were on station number one. When the first family of the day arrived they chose our station to be photographed at. I was a nervous wreck but I remained calm and confident and with the help of Mr. Biddle I completed my very first studio session. The family was very happy.
The rest of the day we hung out and got to know one another pretty well. We headed out doors for a shoot around and I couldn't get enough of it. I didn't want to leave. Thankfully a large part of the people there volunteering also belonged to a photography group out of Louisville called the PPAGL. As you can imagine I went to their meeting that month as a guest and joined the next month. I am so thankful I gave myself the chance to give back to others and quit doubting myself. I've learned so much in the short time that I've known them but more importantly I've found some great friends and mentors. I'm very fortunate.
We now share a group on Facebook and we plan shoot arounds every 3-4 months. We recently met up for the 1 year anniversary of the torando that ripped our community apart but brought us all together. We shot the parade and flag dedication and then headed back to Scottsburg for a shoot around with a couple of models who braved the cold. It was frigid!! Then we met up again in April for a shoot around in downtown Madison, IN. Our next session is scheduled for July in Indianapolis. I'm so excited.
Don't ever pass up an opportunity to give back, however you can. It's rewarding on so many levels!!
I'd like to give a shout out to my photography friends and just say thank you for being there and I am blessed to call you a friend. Tim & Mel, Nate, Gary, Mike, Thurman & Tracy, Alex, & Rick.