My background is in post production and graphic design. I once interviewed for a design position with a woman who owned her own graphics company. I didn't get the job, but what I received has proven more valuable to me. What struck me about her business model was that her website had two portals: One for clients and one for non-profit. She shared with me in the interview that the reason she did the work for the high end clients was entirely to support her non-profit work. She was transparent about this on her website as well, which at the time I didn't understand, having been taught that telling the truth isn't what got you clients. This woman seemed to be proving them wrong and what I see now that I only wondered about then was that perhaps her high end clients hired her not only because she was a great designer, but that she was also passionate about everyone having access to good design, not just those with money, and that they wanted to support that.
What was being modeled by her has stayed with me. From around 2015 until now I had stopped actively offering photo sessions to step back and ask myself some questions as to who I am as a photographer and what my purpose is. During this hiatus, a friend of mine that directs a foster youth program here in Los Angeles reached out to me. She was mentoring a young woman who was pregnant with her third child and her dream was to have photos of this time in her life, made more poignant by the fact that the father of her third child was shot and killed before getting to meet his son. She hadn't had any photographic evidence of her first pregnancy while carrying her twin sons and my friend reached out to me to share her story and ask if I might be willing to take a few maternity shots. My YES couldn't come fast enough, everyone should have access to having professional images taken, and all the care that comes with it - not just those with money.
The relationships that sometimes develop outside of a photo session are something that I cherish, and my relationship with this young woman has grown. As of this writing she just gave birth to her baby boy only 48 hours ago and tonight I will have the privilege of visiting her in the hospital to meet him for the first time.
This experience has taught me that my photography work serves a purpose and is important in the world. Our stories matter. And that, yes, money absolutely is what supports this work. My clients that hire me - whether it be to help visually translate their stories though booking me for a photo session, purchasing art from my print shop, attending a workshop, or to edit and educate other photographers with their own photo sessions - are taking part in helping support my voluntary work with foster youth and rising marginalized voices.
Thank you for helping me do more of the work I want to be doing.