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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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02.26.13         michael's insights  

What Gratitude Means to Me


I've had a couple experiences that have made me reflect on what it means to be grateful for certain blessings.

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On several occasions, so many times I cannot tell you, Ive had friends come to me to ask me for a nice portrait for whatever reason, that they were broke and didn't have any money to pay, but they still needed the shots. So I helped them out. I remember 2 particular occasions, that the shots came out great. One set I wanted to sell to iStockphoto.com as stock photography and hopefully make a few extra bucks because I was in school and broke myself. The second one, a couple years later, I wanted to use in one of my first DVDs. Of course to do these things, I needed a copyright release from each of the "models" simply because their image was being used.

The first "friend" told me that she would be willing to let me use it on the condition I split the profits with her 50-50.
The second "friend" told me that she would be willing to let me use it for no less than $1500.

As you can probably guess, I used neither of their shots because of the awkward personal circumstance I felt myself in and when I didn't, I was asked by both friends to remove all images from my website because I had blogged about the sessions. For whatever reason, they decided it was still ok to use my images all over their Facebook pages.

It wasn't something I got upset or bent out of shape over, but I didn't understand the logic. They came to me asking for help, I gave it to them, and when I asked to use the very thing I gave to them for myself, they were against it. (Say…what?)

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I spend a lot of time helping beginning photographers, and I have mentored many who have gone on to start and run successful businesses. Some of these photographers are willing to help me mentor new students I meet, in little ways. Encouragement, sharing gear info, shooting tips, etc. It really makes a huge difference.

Other photographers whom I have also helped, for whatever reason refuse to help the beginner…even after they themselves have been helped as beginners. I just don't get it.

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When I was first getting started, there was a famous Alabama photographer who was well known throughout the wedding industry for his amazing images. On one wedding, where I was shooting the video, I finally met this famous photographer.

He seemed to be a nice guy, but when I started engaging him in a conversation about photography and what the best way to get started was he replied "Im sorry I cannot help you, I have enough competition already." I had asked him some very basic questions like, "What is a good portrait lens?" He came across arrogant, selfish, above it all and it was at that very moment I decided that if I ever became successful, I would be willing to share my knowledge and help beginners get started in any field that I am working in.

A couple years later, I met Arden Ward in the same type of situation, and she was totally forthcoming with answers to my questions, extremely helpful. We later gave each other a lot of business and referrals. I shared many things with her about video, and later photography. She remains a good friend to this day. (Did I mention the famous photographer went out of business?)

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Some people may disagree with me on this, but the way I look at it is:

1. There is enough information out there, that if anyone wants to know something, they will eventually learn it anyway.

2. Just about everything I have learned that I can think of, has come from someone else. Is it not hypocritical to take and not return? I subconsciously label these individual people as "takers".

3. I learn more about what it is I am sharing, when I share. The teacher is often as much a student as the student. It is a very symbiotic relationship.

There seems to be a depreciating effect when we are unwilling to share what we have.

For me, if you are truly grateful for a blessing in your life, no matter how small, you will find a way to share that gift with other people so that it may be enjoyed by them as well. As far as I can remember, I don't think I have ever regretted helping someone who needed it. I also know that I benefit as much, if not more when I do

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