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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Teach what you know and pass it forward

This post is inspired by a Facebook message I just received. A good friend of mine, Clive Hutchison, used to be the head of the photography department at James Cook University in Townsville.

We met when he was doing a thesis and his subject was local photographers in the far north Queensland region. He would interview us and spend a day with us out in the field to photograph us as we worked. You can see a PDF of his interview with me on the Mirror to Mirror page at the JCU website. Scroll down to page 112. There's some great interviews with other local photographers there as well so definitely take the time to look at the other PDFs.

Anyway every year Clive would fly me down to Townsville to speak to his graduating class about travel photography. I used to prepare a slideshow of my work and talk about what it was like to work in the industry.

One year I couldn't get time off to fly down there so I did my talk via video link. It was great fun and quite a few of the students sent me email questions afterwards, as they do most years. I always give freely of my time and advice for those who want to make their way in this crazy game. I think it's really important that we educate up-and-coming photographers about what it means to be a professional. Too many photographers complain about how screwed up the business is but do nothing to help those who might not know any better improve their own business practices.

One of the students at that video link, Heather Grant, just sent me a wonderful message to let me know that she had taken all my advice on board and had just spent a long period of time travelling through Canada, the US, Europe and Thailand photographing all these projects. Now she's planning on heading back to Canada at the end of the year and spending her weekends seeking work in New York. She still references the big, long email I sent her when she makes career path decisions and just wrote to thank me for being so sharing with her.

From my perspective it was nothing. Happy to help. But to receive such a lovely letter and words of thanks was truly humbling. And to know that I've just helped one person follow their dreams is a truly amazing feeling.

So I would encourage you to share your knowledge with those who would seek it. Whether it be business-related, photography-related or just life-related. Pass it forward. Remember what it was like when you were learning and pass your knowledge on. The rewards will come back to you tenfold.

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