Tis the season for giving back. This year I’ve started a personal project with the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley here in Knoxville. On a weekly basis, I offer my services, for free, to help the local Humane Society document their new arrivals of adoptable cats and dogs, to assist in their adoption process. As someone who truly enjoys pet photography and working with animals, it is a real joy to be able to give of myself to help such a worthy organization in my community.
I believe personal projects are important for my craft, and for the development of all photographers in our industry. In fact, most successful photographers’ portfolios are largely, if not entirely, filled with personal work, as it’s the kind of work they wish to pursue. In other words, one’s personal work reveals the the kind of work and clientele one is attempting to attract. For example, paid projects for clients demand that one works within the limitations of their knowledge and experience. In other words, a paid job is not the proper time for experimentation. However, personal projects are a perfect time to try new things, and expand one’s knowledge base. Additionally, while paid assignments may pay the bills, personal work feeds the soul . . . yes, I know it’s a little cliche . . . but it’s true. In my case, the latter is true concerning my work with the local Humane Society. The project, is not about testing new creative concepts per-say, but simply giving of my time for a great cause and organization that I support, which fulfills my personal passion for photography.
Before pursuing photography as a career, I heard warnings, from photographers in the industry, directed towards passionate amateurs that they may in fact grow to despise photography as it became a “job”, and to first consider keeping photography as one’s hobby alone. However, in my opinion, it is the professional’s personal-work that keeps that “passion” alive for the craft. Thus, my recommendation to inspiring photographers would be to remember to always find time for some personal project that they have a passion for, in which they can give of themselves, through their craft, to help others, as they peruse their professional endeavors.
The following film, with photographer Chase Jarvis & Chris Jordan, provides great insight on how one’s personal work can become, and drive, one’s professional work as an artist.
As the saying goes this time of the year, it’s better to give than to receive. Nevertheless, as any business owner and photographer knows, you have to receive a little to stay in business. As a result, it seems many individuals in business naturally become fearful of working for “free”. To curtail those fears, I recommend the following two links as they are great resource to judge both when one should work for “free” or not, and the merits of charity work.
In closing, my challenge to fellow photographers this New Years is, one, make a goal of starting a new personal project, and, two, give back to your community through your talents and your craft as a photographer. Whether it be photos for your local Humane Society, another non-profit organization, or assisting in local Nashville photographer Jeremy Cowart’s global Help-Portrait, I know from experience your business will grow tremendously by giving back through personal work.
Below are a few photos from this year’s project with the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley here in Knoxville, TN. I can’t wait for 2013 to begin.
To see more of my work with the Humane Society throughout next year, please visit my site at wwww.fauxtauxgrafix.com and select the personal-work tab at the top of the page.
Best wishes, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year,
Photographer @ FauxTaux Grafix