Giving Something Back

In debating whether to start a blog, my thinking was along the lines of “What if I ever decide to ‘go pro-ish’ with this thing?”.  I did not want to have a web presence as an *amateur*.  I didn’t want to have anyone see my less-than-stellar images.  I did not want to have to change anyone’s mindset from thinking of me as a rank amateur to thinking of me as a professional.  I wanted my first impression to be the *perfect* impression.  I wanted the marketing machine to be ready to roll.

What changed my mind?  First and foremost it was the positive, encouraging attitudes of many great photographers out there.  You know who you are — the ones who gladly (and usually humbly) answer questions from the masses (that would be me), share the knowledge you have freely, and encourage continual improvement.  You treat us as though we are your business partners (our improvement matters to you) rather than future competitors which you want to hide your trade secrets from.  I decided that sharing the little I know and building some community is much more important than some future career which is very much in the “maybe someday” state.

I’ve had the opportunity to share bits and pieces of photography with a handful of young people recently.  Two of them were brothers who went camping with our family in the Davis Mountains.  My son and I made plans to get up at sunrise each morning, hike somewhere, and capture whatever we fancied.  The brothers (ages 16 and 13) asked if they could come along to watch and learn — neither had any photography experience other than pressing the shutter button on a point-and-shoot camera.  While out shooting we gave simple, non-technical explanations of how the camera worked, why the camera couldn’t necessarily capture what the eye saw, what subjects caught our eye, basic composition.  We let them set up shots and press the shutter button.  We showed them how we did basic post-processing of the images and how we decided which images to keep and which to toss.  They absolutely loved it.  Two weeks ago I got an email from one of them asking me to recommend photography books…they’ve got the bug.  On another occasion I was looking at pictures taken by a girl who has a fantastic eye for creative, captivating photos (much better than myself).  When I commented that a wider aperture for less depth of field would have been nice in a particular photo, she said, “What’s that? How do I set aperture?”.  I had no idea that she didn’t know these things.  I gave her a 2 minute lesson and she gained a bit more skill and creative flexibility.  These examples show that all of us — at all skill levels — have something to give.

I ask for your patience as my blogging knowledge (managing the site, formatting correctly, linking properly) is *extremely* limited.  If I didn’t have seven children still living at home I’d pour a ton of time into learning the nitty-gritty in a hurry (engineers like me tend to do that).  However, my family comes first.  Of course there’s that full-time job that I’m getting paid to do also…

Be a giver no matter how little you feel you have to give.  Make sure you’re giving to your wife and children (if you are blessed to have them) first though 🙂

Just for fun, here is our group (two families) at Davis Mountains State Park.  I’m on the left end and nine of those children are mine…I’m blessed.


Davis Mountains State Park


2 responses

  1. Michael, I am so encouraged by your blog. Thank you for sharing! I’m first and foremost impressed at your openness of your faith – I, too, am not ashamed and to find a fellow photographer who is also a brother in the Lord, just makes it even better.

    I’m so thankful to have found your site. I am just a baby in photography – having been blessed with my first DSLR just last fall and have most definitely been bit by the shutter bug! I found you originally on HDR Spotting’s fb page – you are the one who I received my invite code from (just a week ago). THANK YOU! And after observing your photos, was convinced you are a professional photographer. It wasn’t until finding your blog, that I discovered otherwise.

    Anyway, just wanted to say “hi” and “thank you” and looking forward to learning from you.

    Let Your Light Shine,

    PS, Im a fellow Texan as well. Live in the DFW area and hoping to make a trip down your direction soon. The Hill Country is one of mine and my husband’s favorite places to visit in the spring.

    March 30, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    • Debbi,

      I’m glad I could be an encouragement in faith and photography (and give you an HDRSpotting code)! I had the same experience when I started out — I’d find someone’s pictures who I was sure was a professional, only to find out that they were just a little bit ahead of me. It was encouraging to me to know that I had a good chance of improving if I just kept at it. I’m definitely not a professional and have *tons* to learn yet but I realize that I can benefit those who are one step behind me just like I’m helped by those who are more advanced.

      Hope you can make it to Austin and/or Hamilton Pool soon. I’ve promised my son that I’d take him to Hamilton pool sometime soon so I plan to try another round of images from there.


      April 1, 2010 at 1:22 pm

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