Photography is a great and powerful thing. It has the potential to change people’s lives. We should always be aware of the power we hold in our hands as we focus the lens.
Our pictures make people think — and react. An image from the battlefield might stir a reaction that culminates in the end of a war. An image of pretty people on a beach might culminate in a consumer buying a new pair of sunglasses.
While you might think of these two examples as polar opposites, they are equally true. And because they are true, billions of dollars are spent every year to support the photographic industry.
I believe this support obligates us to do more than take pictures. It obligates us to give back to the communities we serve.
A Drop in a Rainstorm
That’s right — to give back. Financially.
Yes, I can hear it now: “Hey, I’m just one drop in a rainstorm. I can’t make a difference.”
The rainstorm can’t begin until that first drop falls. The first drop makes you look up and say, “Hmmm, it might rain.” The next few drops make you think it’s sprinkling. And the next thing you know, you are soaking wet and heading for cover.
Here’s another excuse: “I’ll give when my business really takes off.”
The truth is, we spend what we make. If we start to budget our time and talent right now, we will be powerhouses when our “business really takes off” — and think how many people you can help in the process.
And you know what else? Giving back can actually grow your business, by bringing you new clients who want to give back, too.
Working Hard to Save Others
Several months ago, I started a campaign called “Working Hard to Save Others.” This is my own project, and I tell my clients about it in my marketing materials and give them updates from time to time.
What I’m doing is donating 25 percent of my licensing fees for 2009 to St. Mary’s Food Bank  here in Arizona.
Why the food bank? It boils down to trust. I don’t want to invest in any more golden parachutes. And by donating to a food bank, I can be assured that the right people are being helped. In the world’s richest country, no one should go hungry.
How does it work? It’s pretty easy. I get paid, and then I go shopping for the foods that the food bank needs most. And during the current recession, the food bank needs help more than ever.
Critics might argue that I’m trying to drum up business by promoting this campaign to prospective clients. I am. And I’m donating a portion of that income to those with no income.
In the distance, the clouds are building. Water vapor rises, condenses and soon the crops grow, and everyone benefits. The rainstorm can’t begin until the first raindrop falls.
Your pictures have power. Be that drop.