the blog

Idealic (w/ contest)

Seattle Workshop Update: The Seattle Workshop is SOLD OUT! I’m so excited to meet everyone coming for the Building the Biz Workshop, it’s going to be fantastic!

When I created the new website it was so much harder than I thought it would be to convey what I wanted Go{4}Pro to be about in only a few short sentences. The reality is that none of us can be well portrayed in only a few sentences. Not you, nor I and it turns out that I found it’s even really hard to do it with a blog, we’re just a bit more complicated than that. Go{4}Pro stands for so much more than what I could write in one sentence. Hmmm. Perhaps this is why mission statements are encouraged?!

Go{4}Pro is for every new photographer who’s just looking for someone to point them in the right direction but also for the photographer that has mastered their art and now just needs help to fill in the holes in running a profitable business. Go{4}Pro is also all about giving, sharing and creating community. I know that might sound cheesy, but truthfully, I’m just a genuinely cheesy gal. I believe in people, I believe in doing right by one another and I believe in good works and integrity. I trust that yes’s are yes and no’s are no and that people in general are good and kind they just sometimes have been hurt to deep to remember it. And so I give. This blog takes much more than I could possible gain from it.

I have felt (only) once or twice this notion that I owe something more, it came either from an email or comment I received from a reader. I hope this in no ways comes across rude but I have this need to be honest and to just tell you from my heart that in no way do I feel this to be true. I have given thousands of my hours to teach and inspire and share and in the grand picture it has been for little more than the satisfaction of knowing that I got to be the one inspiring instead of the one being inspired. And that leaves me breathless and exhilarated and… happy. But it doesn’t pay the bills, it doesn’t give more time to my children, there are a lot of other things that it just doesn’t do. So why do I do it? Why do I continue to do this despite it being so much more work than most would say it’s worth? Because I love to give not because I’m a saint but because giving makes me better. It’s selfish really… It makes me happy, it helps me grow as a person and as a photographer and it offers me the opportunity to know you in some small way when once I couldn’t say that I knew a single photographer.

So back to that statement… The one where you describe something in only a few sentences… I came up with four ideals that I try to base Go{4}Pro and in so many ways my life by as well, they are to educate, inspired, share and create.

1) Educate: Helping right-brained photographers know how to run the left brained side of their business (with excitement instead of disdain).

2) Inspire: Inspiring photographers to leave this industry better than when they entered.

3) Share: Leading by example in the joy of giving.

4) Create: Never stop creating and growing as an artist, an entrepreneur and a person.

Today I want to focus on number 3…. Sharing. I hope you are actively participating or looking for ways to give back! There are so many incredible opportunities to share our talents and it doesn’t just have to be through an organization such as Celebration Adoption,  Operation Love or NILMDTS (although those are great!). It can be in your community through word of mouth and simple uncomplicated goodwill.

This week I’m excited to be speaking with a group of girls (ages 14 to 18) about photography. It’s a one hour commitment out of my life… It’s small and easy but it’s a wonderful opportunity to share these gifts I’ve been blessed with.

I’d LOVE to know how you’re giving back. The more creative the better, in fact I think we should have a prize for the most creative way for giving using your photography as the medium! Inspire us! Leave a comment (on this post) and tell us what you are doing to give back. We will announce a prize and winner on Thursday’s Post. Not sure what it will be because I only just thought of this right now but I’ll make sure it’s great because this… is a wonderful thing… to celebrate!

Tomorrow we will have a guest post from nilmdts… Lets keep in the spirit of charity!

Remember you can use those handy little things below what you’re reading to share this post!



  1. Krystal says:

    I’m new and no where near pro, so what I can do is limited. Some day would love to help the organizations that provide services for sick babies or children. This has to wait because they need and deserve better skills than I have.

    For now I have tried to haul my camera to as many church functions and ministries that I can. This is often children’s ministries and it’s such a blast to take pictures of. It might include VBS, Awana or Harvest Party. Most churches can’t afford a pro photographer and at this point in the industry they shouldn’t have to. I want to be someone who does what I can, when I can. This is something that I can do.

  2. Kalli says:

    When I was in high school and going into college, I knew that whatever I ended up doing, it had to be helping people. I didn’t know why anyone would want to do anything else, and it’s truly all I’ve ever wanted to do. So I majored in psychology (naturally). And then became a photographer. And I wondered how, if ever, I was going to bridge the gap.

    Last year during Christmas time I knew I wanted to do some sort of service project involving my camera. I found and contacted a shelter for teen moms. Where they can come, bring their children, and work on getting their GED. Learn parenting skills, find friendships and mentors, and even earn things like clothing, diapers, food, and even birth control. I first went to meet with the founder of the organization. We spent over an hour together talking, laughing, and crying. She had a dream and she just worked really, really hard. What an inspiration to all of us photographers! I toured the facilities, and met some of the girls. I came back on two separate days to photograph the mothers with their children. I even did some maternity shots for a 14 year old girl who had 6 weeks left before her due date.

    I made sure I connected not just with my camera, but on a personal level as well. I found out the dreams and goals of the mothers, learned about their children, and left feeling inspired. With such an uphill battle before these girls, I couldn’t believe how optimistic and truly happy they were. I loved finding out ways that other people are giving back, and that I could be a part of that was incredible. Together with the founder, we are planning on making it an annual thing. A gift I, (and my camera), can give during the holiday season.

  3. Megan says:

    I 100% view my talent as a photographer as a gift – so it’s only right to continue to give this gift that was given to me to bless others. That being said, I’m always looking for areas where I can give. Currently I’ve teamed up with a local organization in Oklahoma City called the Tapestry Project ( The Tapestry Project is an organization that is revitalizing a deteriorating neighborhood through renovation, restoration, and connecting people in need to the resources that will equip them to thrive as a community. They go into a run-down neighborhood, restore the homes in that area, then place women and children in the new homes. The women are involved in a monthly community meeting, which involves accountability, mentoring, parenting, encouragement, and providing of resources.

    As a photographer, I come in after the women and children have moved into their new home. I take photos of their families in their new home and print off the pictures for them. Every mama should have pictures of her babies on their wall. And what better way to decorate your new home with photos of your family?

    I’m excited to see what others are doing to give back – I’m always looking for new and fun ways to give back so hopefully I can take some of the ideas here and share them with my community!

  4. Kari says:

    Last Christmas I was fortunate to be involved in the first “Help-Portrait”, which is a movement of photographers who help those less fortunate receive a portrait of themselves or their families, that they may have never had before. This was a world wide event that happened throughout December, although it was meant to be done all on one day. The purpose of the portraits is to give back that feeling one has when their baby’s giggle is captured, or the feeling of empowerment and confidence to a young woman. The day encompasses making the person feel good about themselves, by getting hair and make up done (by volunteer salons). Our group wasn’t set up for that – everyone that had photography equipment set up in a room, and we had our printers set up. I was very interested in learning more about studio photography, but I was so happy to just sit there with my printer, and pass the pictures out to the families – without even taking a picture. I feel that sometimes its about the moment that is created, and I am happy that I was able to have the confidence to attend something like that although it was out of my photographic skill level. As I hope to further my photography career, I will continue to be involved with Help-Portrait, and use my camera for acts of service as well.
    As Megan mentioned, I am interested in learning about other ideas. Thank you for posting this!

  5. My brother is in the Air Force Academy. And every year, the parents of the cadets from Utah get together and have different activities for them. This year, as well as most others, the Parents Club is getting together with parents and cadets from the Army and Navy and having an Armed Forces Ball over the winter break. This year, the AF is sponsoring it. I have offered to take pictures and give the money raised to the parents club so they can continue giving to the cadets. They do things like tailgate parties when the football team plays here, they send out Christmas baskets and treats, send cookies, and other parties. It gives the cadets a little sense of home while they are away at school. The cadets only have about a 1 month break during the summer and only get to come home a few times a year. So this makes a big difference for them.

    I know this isn’t quite as noble as some other things mentioned, but lending a hand is lending a hand, right? I just hope to be able to keep giving in any capacity I am able.

  6. Maggie says:

    Thank you Leah for all your giving! I, too, hope that I can pass on what I’ve learned to others. I still feel like I have so much to learn, but each day brings something knew, and I already have been able to share some of my knowledge with some other aspiring photographers. I have always thought of my photography as a gift (sometimes it’s gotten in the way of my business-“gifting” too much to clients who only want freebies), but I am trying to find the balance with giving where I can and still running a successful business. Last year at Christmas I donated my time and to photographing two families that our church “adopted” for the holidays. It was so neat to meet them and photograph them (one family had three generations and 22 members!) It was even more exciting to deliver the finished prints to them and see how appreciative they were. Thanks again for your blog, your time, your inspiration. I am quite sure you give more then you receive in this case, but I hope it’s a way to pay it forward. And that more of us follow your example!

  7. Kalli says:

    I really love this!

  8. Madison says:

    I met Charlotte Jenny (CJ) when she was 2 years old…blonde curly hair with big, beautiful eyes. Without a doubt, the smartest child I have ever met. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was a little older than 3. She and her parents spent the next year fighting this battle… CJ passed away in January 2010 when she was almost 4 1/2 years old.
    At the time, I didn’t have much to give…but now, I find myself in a different place. I have the opportunity to support a wonderful foundation that is very close to my heart. CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation (CJSTUF.ORG) financially supports families who are experiencing chronic or life-threating illnesses.
    I will be holding a one-day photo shoot for family portraits to help raise money for the families that need funding through CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation. Not only will families get updated, fun, fresh portraits before the holiday season, but, hopefully by raising enough money will we be able to support a family in need.

  9. Carrie says:

    K, I’m not sharing this with the intent to win this contest (there are plenty who shared above that have done much greater things 🙂 but so far, I’ve simply made a point at least every two months or so, to gift free sessions with a CD of all their images to a family I know, meet or have been told about experiencing financial difficulties. Very fun and rewarding!
    I’m excited to follow the examples of those who already left comments.

  10. I was given the opportunity to give a photo shoot to a sweet lady and her daughter. The subject, a mom with Stage IV cancer given less than a year to live IF she does the Chemo. Of course, she’s doing Chemo. As the mother to a 14 year old girl and both 8 year old and 5 year old boys, she wanted to capture some special moments between mother and daughter before she was too sick to do so. Feeling completely honored and blessed to be asked, I happily followed them around one morning while her daughter was attending a Drill Team photo opp. The photos I captured between mother and daughter are breathtaking and beautiful, and the moments together are priceless and will be treasured forever. I totally believe this was a gift from the Lord and if I’m ever given the opportunity to photograph other situation like this, I will. I would love to begin a Cancer Awareness Campaign/Photography Ministry. This is just the start of a beautiful ministry.

  11. Kim Larsen says:

    My passion (besides photography, of course) is promoting the arts in schools. My husband is a high school band teacher, and I volunteer my time to photograph all of the band, choir and drama events at the high school. I sell the photographs to the parents through my website and then donate the profits back to the music & drama programs.

    I also work with our local ballet academy to photograph their recitals, provide portraits of the students, and photograph the dancers for their brochures, advertisements and website, all at no cost to the academy. They are a very small group with a very limited budget, but I have been promised free tuition for my daughter when she is old enough to take ballet (she’s 6 months now)! 🙂

  12. […] I’m going to hold off to announce the winner of the most ‘Creative Way to Give’ contest until tomorrow. PLEASE share your ideas in the original post. […]

  13. Leah, I’m so excited to share about my giving back. I’ve been thinking for awhile on different ways to give back. I have 3 teenage daughters, and I believe education is very important. I am still working out all of the details, and hope to have completed before the end of the 2011 school year. I will be holding a contest each year called Rock Star Senior. Each senior will have to write a short essay telling why they should be the Rock Star. Each Senior will receive a free session, complimentary hair and make-up, a $200 gift card to a local mall, and a $1000 scholarship. I am still working with local businesses in the donating processes, but I hope to get there soon.

  14. Hey, I read all your posts, keep them coming.

you said:

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