Changing the World with Photography
In late 2011, wedding bookings were dramatically down for me and my wife, Eileen. Our response? Not a rational marketing choice. It was a matter of priorities. We decided to take the extra time and dip into our savings to help an unknown organization working with children in Guatemala City’s most violent slum, the ironically named Paradise. We began discussing the value of personal projects in Part 1 of this article (in the August issue of Shutter).
For Eileen and me, the aim is to maintain a holistic view of life and work. We don’t live for photography. But photography is a powerful tool to celebrate life, and even to reclaim lives that are being destroyed. We want to do more important things than just earn money. But let’s face it: A starving artist can’t feed the hungry. So let’s look at the big picture. We’ve already covered the background: the need for photographers to use their skills for good. We decided there is no middle ground, not if you truly want to succeed at both work and life. We must consider taking the plunge into personal projects. Now let’s look at the foreground: the nitty-gritty details of how personal projects can work for you.
What are the upfront, visible benefits of a personal project? How can “charity” work for your business?
Don’t feel guilty if the thought occurred to you, “So what’s in it for me?” You’re entirely justified in asking. Clearly, there is a spiritual reward: a unique sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in service. But to suggest you might actually gain financially as a result of pouring your time and resources into people who cannot repay you (at least not with money)—well, that’s counterintuitive at best.