Tag Archives: headshots

Being Generous, A Learned Habit

Pelicans Working Together Searching For Food

Pelicans Working Together Searching For Food

Thursday the 22nd of October, I professionally photographed any unemployed person (at the offices of Women At Work), who signed up for a ten minute session with me. By any measure it was a successful day for all involved: my subjects, the Women At Work organization and myself. Interestingly there were several people photographed during this free day who might not otherwise have ever had a professional headshot. I am especially glad for this particular metric; they had a positive experience being in front of a professionals camera for the first time. I always work to put my subjects at ease by being pleasant, polite, professional and responsive to their personality quirks. Part of my job is coaching and guiding them to an emotional spot where they become comfortable with themselves, which I then translate into their photograph. I’m successful with this approach to professional headshots and I needed all the tricks in my valise to perform this free service non-stop for six hours, with very little down time in between sessions, not even a lunch break, there just wasn’t time. And I loved every minute of it. When all is said and done, and all of my subjects has received their photograph, I may opt to do this again. I always want to help. I feel better when I am in the service of others. I like being a guide and teacher. But this wasn’t always the case…..

At some point in my life I began to view myself as not being a very generous person. The genesis of this attitude was running a commercial photography studio (for profit). I certainly wasn’t going to give away my talent, if you wanted it you were going to pay for it. And I was going to charge as much as I possibly could. This developed into a fairly aggressive pricing schedule, no job was too small, no profit was too large. My family and I enjoyed the rewards of this attitude but it always gnawed at me. My parents modeled volunteer behaviors to their children. But they both had steady paying jobs so volunteering was no big deal for them, it wasn’t taking away from a potential profit-making day of business. I made myself a slave to the profit motive. After all that’s what any solidly successful businessperson did. And so I went on for years this way even though that little birdie in the back of my mind kept tweeting something was amiss.

After my son Nat popped out, we had diapers to change, play dates to arrange and involvement (volunteerism) at his various schools was a requirement. This was something I resisted and pawned off onto my wife. I was busy making money, I couldn’t volunteer. I had a family responsibility to provide MONEY. What a great excuse. After many years of this (Nat is going on ten) I have now embraced volunteerism as a way to generate good karma for me and others in my circle. Money issues aside, why wouldn’t you take advantage of the opportunity to go camping with the kids at school, helping older folks with house chores, photographing school events for the school archives? Money ain’t the only thing and if you have managed your profitable years correctly, then you will have the time to put your self in the service of others and not concern your self with something as trivial as payment. You actually get paid as soon as you volunteer. As the saying goes, “Try it, you’ll like it!”

Be well.

Giving Back


Hello folks, how is everybody? Things are picking up; my first book will be in stores early next month (pre-sales have exceeded expectations), my rep Wendi and I are lining up speaking engagements and I’m actively searching out sponsorships. As part of my consulting business, I’m working with a green paper manufacturer to produce custom profiles of their papers. I landed a large print order this week with another even larger one coming in soon (I hope!). Next Friday I’m speaking at a small fine art school about how to photograph artwork, lighting objects and people. And I’ve been asked to come back to Brooks Institute to teach one of my favorite classes, VIS200, an introductory photography class for graphic design students. It’s all very exciting.

But the thing I’m really excited about is the volunteer project I’m doing next Thursday the 22nd at Women At Work. I’ll be donating (giving back) a day of my time to help others by shooting professional headshots of anyone who signs up and can prove they are job searching or have been laid off. No other strings attached. They come in have their headshots taken, I retouch here and there and send them the file. They can use it for whatever reason they wish. The idea came from a fellow in Philly (who did something similar) but I’m taking the idea a bit further while being the first one to do this on the west coast. We’ve sent out a news release and I have a video crew coming in to document the day. The exciting thing about the video crew is that it’s two current Brooks students who took an intermediate lighting class from me last year. In class they showed real potential and enthusiasm over the course of the semester, asking questions, reshooting assignments (to learn more) and participated in discussions, took critiques in the spirit they were intended and supported their fellow students. A couple of real gems. I am thrilled and honored they have volunteered to help on this great day.

So, I’m helping others less fortunate than myself, two students volunteer for a real world scenario, Women At Work gets a pr boost and I’m promoting my business in an innovative way.

Everybody wins on this day.

What are you doing?