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So I won this award...
Old 03-05-2006, 09:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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seriously...

This might take a minute, but there is a point and it does have to do with photography, so if you have a minute, I'd appreciate you loaning it to me.

Once a month or so I drive over to the Monroe Harding Children's Home here in Nashville and shoot portraits of the residents there. MH is one of those under the radar charity places, 30 percent State Money 70 percent private & corporate donations keep it running. Their mission is teaching 16 to 21 year old kids who are in State Custody -almost all of them having been removed from their homes due to parental abuse, physical, drug and otherwise- how to act &live & work in the real world once they turn 21 and the State, by law, has to cut them loose.

The residents are almost exclusively male. Tough kids. It's an equal mix of black and white mostly, a few hispanic and the other day I shot the first Asian kid I'd seen there.

You might think that a bunch of bad ass teenge boys would turn up their noses at a photographer come to shoot real life portaits of them but it's the coolest gig, the guys love it. They come out one cottage (living area) at a time -five guys or so- and they're really anxious to get some cool shots.

The work is fun, it's also heartbreaking. They all start out tough and gangster but usually I end up getting a laugh or at least a smile. We wander around the grounds (the 'campus') and mostly I shoot natural light stuff with one or two kids drafted as reflector holders if need be.

One of the counselors is usually around but not as security they use their walkie talkie to bring the next group of kids up when one group is finished. By now everybody kind of knows me, the longtime residents will actually explain reflector duties to the new kids, and it's all very low key and casual.

Each guy gets a free eight by ten from me. Last year, after much prodding from the kids, I also print them a sheet of wallets for girlfriends, friends back home, family they're still in touch with, whatever.

So the other day I got a letter from MH, I have been named the "Service Volunteer of the Year' for 2005. I cannot tell tell you, I can NOT tell you how touched and honored I was by this. Got all teary about it, so did my wife, but that's not why I'm writing today.

We get to go to a fancy schmantzy luncheon at the Hillwood Country Club in April and I get a spiffy palque for my studio but THAT'S not why I'm writing this today, either.

I'm writing because if you are a serious shooter, pro or amatuer, and you have decent gear, decent photoshop skills, and can output to print or internet, there is probably an under the radar charity in your town that could use an hour or two of your time.

It could be something as simple as pictures of a new building for the charity website. Or headshots of staff members who otherwise would have to pay for them themselves...could be a lot of things but most small businesses need photography at some point and most chairties are basically small businesses...hey, you might get a spiffy plaque you might nor, you might get a fancy schmanzty luncheon, you might not, but you will DEFINITELY get a good feeling for the simple act of sharing your skills for the benefit of someone or something that needs them.

(sound of soapbox being removed)

Have a great Sunday

Shannon

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Re: So I won this award...
Old 03-05-2006, 10:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
(sound of soapbox being removed)

[/ QUOTE ]

Shannon, you can bring out that soapbox anytime! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

Terrific news about the honor, but even more so that you are taking your talents and giving back to those around you. Trophies and award, while nice, eventually gather dust or are put away in cardboard boxes. Having an impact on an individual and simply making a difference -- now that's something that shines with you forever.

Proud of you, sir ... great job!

Dave
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Re: So I won this award...
Old 03-05-2006, 10:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Good story, and good for you. It's nice to be appreciated [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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bravo...
Old 03-05-2006, 10:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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{insert polite, understated, but meaningful golf clap here}

Good show, comrade... thank you.
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Re: So I won this award...
Old 03-05-2006, 10:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Proud of you brother, I look forward to donating time when I get this house sold and relocate. Sorry we did not connect last week. Give everyone in your family a hug for me.

Mike
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Forgive me for being practical, but...
Old 03-05-2006, 11:18 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Shannon, you have discovered what I consider the single greatest marketing opportunity that is available...doing good things for people that need it the most. My experience in this comes from my investment planning practice, but the the same rules apply. You're right, there are a ton of local and regional charities that fly under the radar and would love the help of someone who gets excited about their cause.

Being practical, it really is likely the greatest marketing opportunity you will ever have. Why?

1. How many times have you felt like a really good person because you placed an ad in the yellow pages or handed out flyers at a local event? Find something you are passionate about and, while it may break your heart on occasion, you will never feel better about yourself.

2. People want to hire people who they trust and believe in. Share a passion with someone and any perceived fault that you may otherwise have is completely wiped away. Really, no kidding.

3. If you look at those people who spend large amounts of time on charity events and organization, they TEND (and I stress tend) to be of higher incomes. Who has more discretionary income for things like boudoir sittings or large family portraits? Yep, people with higher incomes. I realize that this is an obvious point, and yet it is so often overlooked.

Biggest mistake I see in those that try to work this angle from a business standpoint...targeting a charity based solely on demographics and income. Rule #1, find something you love and throw yourself into it. If you're not sincere, everyone will know and you will be exposed for the fraud that you are. Get passionate about the cause and people will see that come through also. If you don't occasionally get a little misty like Shannon described you're either working with the wrong group or doing it for the wrong reasons.

Nice job Shannon, I love to hear stories like this. I actually met John Paul at an event for my favorite charity last year and my first thought was, "Wow, hell of a nice guy to give up an evening of his time." That was before I even knew about GG, but as soon as I saw his listing it clicked and since then I've given his contact information to three or four people just because I was impressed by him. Did they contact him? I don't know, but I sure like to think that they did.

To be selfish, my all time favorite cause...(and no, I didn't take this picture):

https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg...upId=120808051

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Re: So I won this award...
Old 03-05-2006, 11:31 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Just think of how many kids you may be inspiring to get their life straight and become a photographer. What a wonderful thing!!
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Re: So I won this award...
Old 03-05-2006, 11:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Anyone who helps kids gets applause from me.
I try and help where I can with a couple groups. The kids are the future of the country and the world.

Not much on income but it's fun working with young.
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Re: So I won this award...
Old 03-05-2006, 12:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I really wish stories like yours would make the national news! Thanks for sharing!!!
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Re: So I won this award...
Old 03-05-2006, 01:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Very nice thought.

I'm on the receiving end of such a project. A few years ago I started a community foundation. A local professional photographer donated his time to take photos of various programs and of people who benefit. We use those photos on the foundations website and his shots are much appreciated. For what it's worth, we list his name and a link to his studio website on our home page.

Now that I'm getting into photography as a hobby, I appreciate more the time and skill he donated.

Steve
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