I never saw the movie from which I stole the title for this post. So you will forgive me for the gratuitous appearance of Yoda on the button. The concept is pretty easy to figure out. And it’s one that I think we’ve all got an obligation to live by.
Think for a moment about the joy that you derive from your photography, and how much your art has given to you. It’s likely that even the most self-taught among us have many people who have influenced us in some fashion, taken time for our questions, written a book, churned out a regular blog – anything that put you where you are today with your craft.
For me it was my mother’s co-worker who gave me her late father’s Pentax Spotmatic. Or Bob, my next-door neighbor, who gave me a box of darkroom equipment and some Ansel Adams books, in exchange for a night of babysitting. It was Mr. Harris, the highschool photography teacher who knew i was only taking his course to gain free access to the darkroom, and like a co-conspirator he enabled my addiction. It was the guy who ran the AV department in college who let me use the darkroom and the chemicals and paper at no charge, saying he’d ask me to shoot for him occassionally as payment. It’s been other photographers who let me assist or pick their brains, or who offered kind critiques of my work, or who sat and listened to my hair-brained ideas.
I am who I am as a photographer because of them, and I owe them a debt of gratitude. The best way I can say thank you, apart from saying Thank You, is to pay it forward. I’m guessing you too have been on the receiving end, and I know you have something you can give back to the photographic community. Teach a class, give away some of your old gear to a highschool student, send a cheque to Kids With Cameras, shoot for a non-profit free of charge. Whatever it is, pay it forward.
This craft has given so much to so many of us, let’s keep the love moving.
If everything is going to plan I should be in Ladakh right now, with the Lumen Dei team. We’ll have just arrived on a 5am flight out of Delhi and over the Himalaya. Today is slated to be our acclimation day, so we’ll pass it getting up to speed on Lightroom 2. Tomorrow we shoot in Leh, and the following day begin a 4 day jeep trek around the more remote spots in Ladakh.