Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Importance Of Our Photography

Okay, it's not world peace or feeding the hungry, but what we do as photographers can be important to someone. Today's image is the last "portrait" of my aunt ever taken. She was eighty plus years old and within the last years of her life. We had a family reunion and I just happened to catch her with a nice smile and a brightness to her eyes. When she died I went back, grabbed the image and changed the background to make it a little more "formal". I gave each of my cousins (her four children) an 8 x 10 and a picture package with some wallets. I've been to a couple of their homes and the framed shot is displayed for all to see. That simple portrait is important to them. There an effort coming up on December 12th that we should all think about supporting. It's called "Help-Portrait" and it's about doing something with the gift we've been given with our enthusiasm for photography. Consider the aged, sitting in assisted care facilities, away from family. Sometimes distance is a barrier between visits and having a remembrance of a loved one while they were still vibrant just isn't possible by a family member. The cost of a sitting may be a burden to the family and the last image of their loved one may be as they lay dying. That's sad and we can do something about it. The "Help-Portrait" activity is a great start. It's focused on doing "something for someone" on December 12th. December 12th will come and go, just as the day in October that the company I worked for dedicates time to "Feed the Homeless". Both are great "events", but giving back is not about "events". It's about a consistent presence in being helpful. A fellow I went to high school with has been an unsung volunteer at the local homeless shelter for more than 25 years. He doesn't wear it on his sleeve or bring it up in conversation, he just does it, quietly. As photographers we have the ability to do something for someone with just a little bit of effort on our part. To find out what the plan is, hit the "read more".

Right now the "Help-Portrait" event has 599 groups signed up across the globe from Aarhus, Denmark to Zagreb, Croatia and just about anywhere in between. There's groups like "Women Helping Women" and the "Boston Photo Mob". Small efforts consist of a single person hauling the freight to 54 people making the load lighter. It's looks like it will be a great activity and I encourage everyone to take part.

There is one fear I have about this wonderful event. And that's just it. If it's "an event" I'm afraid too many people will do the event and walk away with their chests puffed, feeling too good about what they did. The key to this, or any volunteer involvement is in sustaining the effort. Doing "something" on December 12th is great. Doing something quietly for 25 years is outstanding. I hope people don't think of this as a "one off" or a yearly opportunity to put their two cents in. My hope is that people get involved in an ongoing manner. That is true charity.