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Helping Each Other Out: Paying It Forward

Helping Each Other Out: Paying It Forward

Sometimes, I wish I had a posse — a group of skilled photo folks to help me with my shoots. All of us who work alone know how difficult it can be to do something complex, particularly on location. Some shoots require an extra set or two of hands, another set of eyes, and a sounding board for ideas.That’s why the credits at the end of films are so long. I know, we aren’t making films and our technology is not as complex. But, having learned my trade producing and directing TV shows and movies, I can tell you how much I miss both the collaboration and the direct, physical help the crews provided.

Few of us — in this economy — have the ability to “crew up” for our ordinary shoots.

I’ve been thinking, a lot, about a possible solution — and I think it comes from the concept of “Pay it Forward”. Many of us know the basic idea from the movie — we do someone a good deed, they in turn do it for another, and the good deed gets paid forward making life easier for countless people.

Interestingly, the concept can be seen in a letter Benjamin Franklin sent to a friend, Benjamin Webb on April 22, 1784.

I RECEIVED ¬†yours of the 15th instant and the memorial it inclosed. (sic) The account they give of your situation grieves me. I send you herewith a bill for ten louis d’ors. I do not pretend to give such a sum; I only lend it to you. When you shall return to your country with a good character, you cannot fail of getting into some business that will in time enable you to pay all your debts. In that case, when you meet with another honest man in similar distress you must pay me by lending this sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the debt by a like operation when he shall meet with such another opportunity. I hope it may thus go through many hands before it meets with a knave that will stop its progress. (Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin p. 241)

So what does this have to do with us?

If there is enough support from those of you who read this site, I’m thinking about putting up a section where we can ask for or offer help — on a pay it forward basis. Let others know what we need or what we can do for them.

I actually think the benefits of working with others transcend just getting jobs done more easily. I see this as a chance to meet new people, expose myself to new challenges, and learn new things.

What do you think? Is this a “pie in the sky” idea? Or, can it work? Would you be interested in participating? Do you have ideas on how to structure it? Post a comment. Let me know. If there is enough support, I’ll give it a trial run.

(Copyright: PrairieFire Productions/Stephen J. Herzberg — 2010)

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11 Responsesto “Helping Each Other Out: Paying It Forward”

  1. Patrick Stephen Flasch says:

    I, for one, think that ‘Pay it Forward’ is a wonderful idea!

    I’ve been shooting professionally for almost 40 years
    I also work for a well known computer company as a “Creative”.

    One of my students is trying to get her portrait business established, and purchased a couple Elinchrom lights to do studio work, She had no idea how to properly set the lights etc, to get the look that she was after. She asked if I could stop by her home to teach her a little about this type of lighting.
    She said “and of course I will pay you fro your time”.

    Well, long story short, I did stop by for about an hour and within that time showed her the very basics of lighting… how to use a flash meter properly, lighting ratios etc.

    As I was leaving, she hands me some money… over her objections, I gave the money back to her!
    She told me that she wanted to do “something” for me because I had taken an hour out of my busy day to help her.
    I looked her right in the eye and told her “here’s what you can do for me… pay it forward”!
    She understood exactly what I mean’t, smiled and said that she would be happy to do that!

    I’m sure that at some point in time, she will do exactly that, and when someone offers her money, I’m sure that she will do the same as I had done for her.

    So, yes, I think that it’s a wonderful idea!


  2. Kathy Haas says:

    I love the idea. I have often needed a extra pair of hands. I would also be willing to help someone in return.

  3. This is an idea whose time is ripe for picking. I often ask for and receive assistance as well as give assistance in the form of hands on with a photographer who I admire or who admires me, and this makes for incredible learning experiences.

  4. Jay Samuel says:

    I am sure most people didn’t know Ben Franklin’s deed. However most of us have been blessed to see the movie, “Pay It Forward”. We’ve been incredibly blessed in our lives and to things for people not for the shock value, but to bring another side of awareness of what it means to give something, without condition of acknowledgement what WE gave to that person. Instead, we simply ask to do a random act of kindness and to it “under the radar”. By this, not having to tell the world what you did for someone, but let that someone give of themselves unselfishly to someone in need of their particular skillset or helping hand. If you want to experience that feeling, go a Starbucks and pay for the other person’s order along with yours and leave. Make note, do not look back to see how it was recieved. Instead, know God has given us all a blessing to help someone at sometime… choose to do it sooner than later. Jay

  5. I am game for “paying it forward”. The idea of assisting a photographer who I admire or who admires my work sounds like a wonderful learning experience.
    I am located in central Texas, ready to pay it forward

  6. Al Sharp says:

    This is a great idea. count me in to help. Paying it forward always works. I’m in the Denver Area.

  7. Megan Parks says:

    “Paying it Forward” is indeed a wonderful experience. Having been blessed as the recipient, and had the privilege to “give” on many occasions, count me in also. I’m in the Fort Worth Area.

  8. Doug White says:

    I’m not an expert but I am a pair of hands with a lot of desire to learn more about photography. With a little notice, I can be in Houston though I live in the Beaumont area. Weekends preferred.

  9. Hi All,

    I have a stuio in Houston, TX on Hwy 290 close to the 610 loop. I could always used an extra pair of hands would like to do the same for you or trade your time for studio rental. Call me at 713-702-5920 please.

  10. Ed Boden says:

    I recently lost my wife of 45 years. I am semi-retired but still fairly healthy. My eyesight is not as good as once but auto focus takes care of that. Even tho I earned the Master of Photography I never considered myself more than a journeyman photographer. I do decent work for a less than decent price. (don’t we all?) Anyhow I would be available to travel, to help on a job, to teach basic (not Photoshop) old time photography wiht real film, developing, etc. For years I wondered why this could not happen. Maybe fast communications will help…

  11. I feel this is a great idea. There have been times I have needed an extra pair of hands. I have helped another photographer and would be happy to do it again. I love to teach too. Location is in SW area of Portland, Oregon.

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