Call To Action :: Are You Hitting The Streets?

September 8, 2009 | • Philosophy


I’m just checking in with those of you who are taking the call to action challenge.  If you are new to the blog then check out this post to figure out what I’m talking about.

This is the week to be getting a service job on the books and scheduled. By reading comments some of you have seen this through to completion by now. I know some of us are still draggin’ ass on it.  

On my front I have been working with Derrick. He’s set up with email, online banking, and he has his own PayPal account now! We are moving him toward a blog.  I have to hook up with him this week to see how the eWorld is treating him and make further steps toward the blog.  I also went to a networking event last week and connected with an organization that works with kids and mentors them from 8th grade through 12 grade. They commit five years to each child. It’s an organization that has an amazing heart and amazing statistics. I’m hoping to meet with them in the next week or two to figure out how I plug in with them. 

What’s up? How are things going? Any of you still sitting around wanting to do this but still making excuses as to why you can’t? Fess up as an anonymous commenter and let’s see if we can’t find a boot to plant up your rear!!! 😛

No seriously. This community of folks are here to help. Speak up! This project will be a good primer for many of us to get off our butts and help out in December for the Help-Portrait project.

Cheers, Zack 


  • Alan Lougher said on September 8, 2009

    I did post this in the portrait thread also, but I was motivated to kick start my music photography and reached out to a local Christian band who were in need of some decent promos. I shot the images yesterday and presented them to the band today. They LOVED them. This is what the manager said:

    “God bless you brother for your blessing to us with these pics. We’ve needed them for soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo loooooooooooooong and our ministry is cash poor but we were waiting on the Lord to bless us and along came Alan Lougher! You have NO IDEA how grateful we are!!!. ”

    So it not only made my day getting this email but it also gave me a major confidence boost in my work and now I have some series goals to work to but at the same time I am so pumped to get going on this! Thanks Zack not only for the motivation, but also for the inspiration and the all the technical know-how you provide!

    If you want to see the pics from the shoot they are on my blog link above.


  • Denise said on September 8, 2009

    Hello Zack,
    Please read comment # 74 from the Help-Portrait post.
    Maybe you know of someone in the Valdosta, GA area. They are home for a few days before the baby goes back into the hospital at Shand Children’s Hospital in Gainesville for Chemo for the next six months.
    Your help is greatly appreciated.
    Take care~ Denise

  • Tony said on September 8, 2009

    Got my project all set up, had a lot of fun connecting with people. There is a great organization in Virginia that partners with volunteers and communities to rehabilitate the homes of low-income homeowners so that they may continue to live independently with warmth and safety. I have always liked this organization and can’t wait to shoot some of the great people who need help. Unfortunately due to their scheduling of volunteers, I will be shooting near the end of October…

    Thanks for the motivation Zack

  • Rob said on September 8, 2009


    Was originally unsure if I’d be able to be a part of this but it kind of just fell into place for me. I’ve been helping out at an animal shelter for almost a year now and they had asked me a while back about my photography. I’m about to meet with the owner tomorrow and go over some details about bringing some of the animals home to my studio and shooting them for promotional materials the shelter will be creating.

    Thanks for the kick in the ass to get something like this going!

  • Eugene said on September 8, 2009

    Zack, things are slow on my end.

    After your series of posts, I reached out on my photoblog and on twitter, but I didn’t receive any responses, comments, or words of encouragement. Perhaps a combination of things are at play here: my daily posts (which put the “reaching out” post in the forgotten pile the very next day), few viewers who read the captions, and/or disinterested readers.

    I realize that ultimately the situation revolves around me, since I have to take the initiative (i.e., I shouldn’t rely on others so much for help). I will say that I am absolutely terrible at promotion and marketing, however.

    Still, I am not giving up.

  • Paul said on September 8, 2009

    I’m trying. Tweeting, FB’ing, blogging but I got no takers!

    I’m keen but have tripped up due to a lack of interested people in SF.

  • Crystal Garcia said on September 8, 2009

    I did some portraits free for a family who could not afford them. They are on my blog because they asked to be. You can read their story here:
    More in the works! Thanks for the inspiration! I also talked to another photographer who is getting regular projects like this organized for our area. I’m pumped!

  • adam k said on September 8, 2009

    I am working with a group planting a new church. I shot portraits for two families this morning for their website and brochure.
    I am on a quest now for general photos for the website, they’re all about the arts, and not being afraid of them like a lot of churches

  • Daniel Regueira said on September 8, 2009

    I’ve done some but very little, starting college has taken a lot of time up but I’m trying to push myself to ask friends to go out to shoot at least once a week if not more. Hopefully I can increase that week rate. I’m also 100% looking forward to help portrait and wondering if anyone in the San Antonio area is doing it as well? If so please contact me :)

  • Richard said on September 8, 2009

    I’m trudging through my last semester of college, and it absolutely kills me that I can’t be out there hitting that pavement…

    All you people that just have “regular jobs” to worry about – go out and rip it!

  • Karen said on September 8, 2009

    Derrick is almost up and running on the internet?!!? What great news! That’s so cool that he’s working on his own blog… he’s already got a lot of support. Keep us updated on him. :)


  • Gabe said on September 9, 2009

    I’m in it to win it. Setting up a shoot for a local non-profit who provides photography for families of children with life-threatening illness.

    Baby boy born way to early, fighting tough to make it.

    Thanks for the kick Zack. I look forward to seeing you next month.

  • anon said on September 9, 2009

    OK I’m dragging butt ;O(

    I have a couple of families (here in UK) more or less on the breadline who I’m planning to offer my services to (thinking kids / family portraits) but for some reason can’t seem to find the time – something else always comes up first.

    I am putting this confession down in black & white to try and push myself – removing all the hiding places and the excuses!

    I will update if/when I’ve managed to move my ar$e!


  • neil clarke said on September 9, 2009

    the blogs encouraged me to get out of my stagnating rut an start clearing up my life, an career,

    so iv put wheels in motion to do that like driving lessons which would make things so much easier for me, also decided to finish off my apprenticeship, photography is a hobby for me! but i would like to go semi pro. that an the completion of my apprenticeship would put me in a very nice place. the blogs have been a kick up my arse, amongst one or two personal things that have happened recently,

    i know its not the same but me an few friends have set up a strobist meet to teach a few others how to use/introduction to off camera flash we also have some models coming along so they will benefit form additional photographs.

  • Sara said on September 9, 2009

    I find out today who the two foster kids are that I get to work with for the Michigan Heart Gallery. What a day!

  • Megan said on September 9, 2009

    Going to meet with Families First today at 4pm to help with planning the Atlanta Help Portrait events! Yeah! So happy to be a part of this!

  • Silas said on September 9, 2009

    Delivered promo shots for a non-profit theatre group that are premiering with a show in two weeks. The aim is to help putting focus on the mental disorder called “borderline”.
    Looking for the next project, as I write.

    Thank you for the inspiration, Zack. Have a nice day!

  • Chuck said on September 9, 2009

    I’ve contacted the local Pregnancy Care Center. I’m hoping to either do some event photos for the center or take some portraits for a single mom.

  • Chris Newman said on September 9, 2009

    I finally got some response from a local food bank. Clashing schedules have prevented me from meeting with them directly yet so I took advantage of the Labor Day holiday and the fact that they were closed to provide some high quality images of the facility and posted them on flickr and their facebook page for easy access. I’m looking forward to working with them more directly to help them tell their story to the community.

  • Brian Davis said on September 9, 2009

    I’ve definitely been helping others. I’ve been hitting the streets and working with local models to make some great shots =>

  • Anonymous said on September 9, 2009

    OK, so I’ll bite. This project is killing me. I had finally gotten to a point with my photography where I felt like maybe I didn’t suck. Still wasn’t ready to say I was good at it, just that maybe I didn’t suck. But I can’t find anyone to allow me to photograph them for free. I’ve tried my local animal shelter – something I’ve been meaning to do for a while and thought this project was just the push I needed. No dice. I tried offering free family photographs to my coworkers at my “day job.” There were wage freezes last year, and everyone has been working so hard to keep afloat. I know many are putting things like family portraits on the back burner, and I wanted to offer a family photo for them if they wanted to include it in their holiday cards, or just to have. No takers. I’ve twittered and facebooked and all the rest. I don’t know. I’m left to think I DO suck. Bah humbug.

  • Will said on September 9, 2009

    I am working on a shoot for a local drum shop and will be heading down there tomorrow to check out the place… again, as I am a percussionist I have been in there before, but with a photographer’s mind. I also went to a networking event last night and really want to go to another one soon. Unfortunately I had to show up towards the end of the event after everyone had a few drinks so it made for some awkward conversations. I also have some mothers interested in having me take photos of their kids.

    It’s rolling I just hope that it doesn’t get out of control. But it is exciting to get some feedback and recognition. Thanks for a$$ kick!

  • Kelly Heck said on September 9, 2009

    I shot an event hosted by BB&T and Hannah Moore. Its purpose was to feed the hungry and collect food for the battered women’s shelter. The attendees really enjoyed the event and posing for pictures and both BB&T and Hannah Moore were happy to have the shots. It was a quick project, so I’m still looking out for more.

  • zack said on September 9, 2009

    For those who can’t find any takers on your offer to serve what are the reasons you are hearing for them saying no?


  • Andy Q said on September 9, 2009

    I have found that tweeting and FB were ok channels to communicate this idea. This told me that the energy that I carry may not be the same for the next person that sees my intend, relying on someone else to make it happen is not going to cut it. The phone and direct email worked best. I have an inspiring music student lined up, and I a family, both to be shot in a couple of weeks due to schedule conflicts.

    My next step is to hit the local shelters, but this time I’ll skip the phone and just show up to make that happen.

    Thanks Zack !
    Andy Q.

  • Rhonda said on September 9, 2009

    I’ve reached out to a woman from my Bible study who just had her 3rd child offering free baby and family pictures. I’m going to go above and beyond to get them a lot of great images due to the fact that their house burned down a couple years ago and I believe they lost most of their family photos. I’m hoping to give them some great new images they probably couldn’t afford regularly (she’s a stay at home mom now and he’s a fireman–yes it’s ironic that a fireman’s house burned down). We’re emailing back and forth now trying to decide when she wants to schedule the shoot. :)

  • Zoë said on September 9, 2009

    Hey Zack!

    This is my first post on your blog, but we’re “friends” on Facebook. ;-} I’ve been totally inspired by you and your approach to photography. Last year I went through a pretty dark spell, the kind you spoke about on your fantastically frank Kelby video. Finding a great community of like-minded photographers has really helped me realize this dream. Thank you for your honesty!

    What is most gratifying about photography, my opinion, is the amazing feedback from the people we shoot. Not every shot is technically perfect, but there is something magical about capturing people’s souls on film (the 1s and 0s kind, these days). Showing my subjects what I’ve taken right there on the scene is the tipping point for me. That is when it all comes together. They either they love it or hate it, but rarely do they hate it. But, that the moment that they truly connect with you and your camera. That magical moment is what I love the most about this field.

    So, I have taken your challenge and have already been shooting mainly for free for the learning experience of it. I recently met a wonderful single mom with three stunning daughters. She told me that she doesn’t have anything other than their school photos and that she’d love to have some nice shots of all of them together. We are in the process of booking the appointment now. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

    Thanks for continuing the inspiration, Zack!


  • Jonathan Lehman said on September 9, 2009

    I agree with Andy Q. Be direct and make the first contact. Passively waiting with social media won’t probably won’t do it.

    Just got an email back from the local food bank that currently serves 500 local families!

  • Dana~from chaos to Grace said on September 9, 2009

    Well I DID IT!! I did my FIRST Bridal session ever (NOT a wedding, not to be confused)! I was scared to death because she wanted something different, something edgy….I can do that, but I haven’t before on a BRIDE! This was done pro-bono because I have never done Bridals and they never had Wedding portraits before. They’ve been married 3 years and couldn’t afford portraits of any kind, much less an actual wedding. So, we worked it out, and I offered my services for free.

    I stepped my game HUGE on that session and just by doing that one session, I’ve heard from countless people now wanting to book sessions! I even had one couple email me to tell me they’ve gone out and bought a dress JUST to do Bridals! LOL

    It was the kick in the pants I needed! So financially, I’m hoping to really get started!

    And then next week, I have a newborn session for a family that can’t afford sessions of any kind, so I’m doing it pro-bono for them with discounted prints. Giving back to my community.

    And then over the weekend, I shot a Pow Wow which was totally exciting and more along the lines of the Mission-type photography I WANT to do!

    So I’m learning where I need to improve, how to get better, and getting out there up to my ears in the deep end. Whether or not I’ll sink or swim is yet to be seen, but I’m out there!

  • Ray Medina said on September 9, 2009

    This is my call to action…

    A twitter follower stated that she wanted to see an Annie Leibowitz-style photo of all her favorite Twitter people, decked out half-naked in sheets….

    I sent her an email and we are now collaborating on this project. We decided to make it a South Florida Twitter Calendar and we are currently getting applicants. The Calendar was just announced in the Miami NewTimes (Silicon Beach column here and you can read our blog at

    The calendar will be shot starting the end of September and will go to November… 5% of the proceeds will go the American Cancer Society.

  • Jeremy Hall said on September 9, 2009

    I had what I thought would be a great group service project in the works, but timing didn’t work out with the organization I wanted to work out with. They are interested, but would like to do something early next summer. I have sent the proposal to another group and hope to have a response soon. Still trying!

  • A. said on September 9, 2009


    A week after the blog post I knocked on my first “door”.

    I’m now member of the photo-group for a student organization.

    But I’m still standing outside the door for my actual thought.
    Setting up shoots with local bands. I’m much talk, less doing.


  • matt haines said on September 9, 2009

    Aw c’mon, Z, quit with all the motivational talk! I don’t need the competition. 😉

  • Collin Atnip said on September 9, 2009

    I think Atlanta is going to knock this out of the park! I am on the list to shoot DEC 12. I guess I better tell my wife! HAHAHA I kinda forgot that part!

  • caroline said on September 9, 2009

    I ended up donating a pet session for the local animal hospital’s fundraiser. Dropping off a certificate with them today!

  • Carrie Hachadurian said on September 9, 2009

    My husband and I were inspired to help out a couple at our church whose house burned down a few months ago. We actually had the idea to do a free session with them but just haven’t approached them about it until the other week when you first published the Help Portrait idea. Their daughter graduated from nursing school, had a baby and then their house burned down all within a week. All of their possessions — including family portraits — are gone, so they were so grateful when we approached them with an offer to do a free family session. It feels great to help out such a deserving family. I can’t imagine having to go through something like that. Love your blog, keep up the good work :)

  • Nick Strocchia said on September 9, 2009


    I’m on it man!

    I decided to take a couple shots of my mechanic, Gagik who has to be the hardest working man in the Washington DC metro area.

    I just posted the gallery a moment ago (
    ) and I’m going to be writing a blog post about him in the next few days.

    Thanks for everything that you do for the community and keep up the fantastic work.



  • Crystal said on September 9, 2009

    I just found you and I wish I had when I still had a good working camera. I am without now, and taking the time to fill myself with good things for when I am able to shoot again. Thank you for this. I wish I could be involved in this now, but it is something I am going to do.

  • John said on September 9, 2009

    So maybe I’m a little ahead of the time line, but I wanted to do a little something closer to home. In fact in my home. To me photography is more than just the technical stuff, I’m sure it’s that way for most of us following this. But we all had to get that out of the way to begin with. So what’s my service job? I sat down and took the time, the patience, and the right attitude to teach my knowledge and spur along a little of my passion with my wife. She’s been trying to get me to do that for a couple years now, not that I haven’t tried. she just didn’t have the self confidence to think she could understand it. I didn’t have the patience to find a way to show her she could. I wanted to change that. We sat down every night for a week and spent a couple hours on the fundamentals of camera’s and photoshop. Armed with some crib notes and a little more swagger in her step she set up a shoot with a friend of hers that’s been wanting some shots for her husband for a while now. I helped her set up some lighting and gave a few general guidlines and left her to show herself she could do it. She only called once with a question; it was awesome. The work wouldn’t grace the pages of a magazine or win any awards but her friend loved them. I helped put happiness and confidence into my wife that she needed. She found pride in her work and a desire to make it better through hard work and practice. I found that great feeling of sharing and helping someone up; and I get to see the results everyday. Maybe not quite the direction you were trying to push us in, but a little victory in my house anyway.

  • Megan said on September 9, 2009

    Successful meeting with Families First this afternoon to set up one of the Atlanta sites for Help Portrait! We have so many great ideas!

  • Christine Elizabeth said on September 9, 2009

    Wow….I’m still kind of overwhelmed. I have read all the related posts and I, like everyone else have been so incredibly moved and inspired! It’s been one more step in the huge things I think God is already doing in my heart and my life and my photography business. So many things going on now follow along a similar theme! I’ve been putting off coming back to read the rest of the comments on the ‘Call to Action’ post. See, I had already done free photography for two transplant families recently – part of me thought, “Sweet, I could post and already been done with my action!” Except then I just started feeling like I was cheating! Sooo, I’ve been trying to think of what else I can do. But God is good and has been reminding me that everyone is different. Maybe I don’t need a kick to help a specific family because that is easy for me. HOWEVER, I DO need a kick for other things. I have been wanting to organize a “photog shootout” type group in my city, and have put it off – so I finally did that….and guess what? There were 12 new members within a couple of hours! And, as far as that goes, I am absolutely STOKED about Help Portrait!!! I’m a total networker. And I have connections already to several organizations/people in need. And I think the kick I have been needing is to get me to step out and be a leader – even though I’d be much more comfortable to hang back and let someone else step up. So, the group is a step towards that!
    So, I guess what I’m trying to encourage everyone is to figure out what the kick is that you need. Haha, I’m totally saying this to myself, but if you’re hanging back because you think someone else is doing something “cooler/bigger/whateverer” than you are – don’t wait because of that!!! I’m so excited to see the variety of things among these comments! And for those of you waiting for someone to ‘bite’, I’ll butt in and give you a couple of ideas that are close to my heart. I think someone already mentioned it, but HOSPITALS. Talk to social workers at hospitals and they will easily find a family who would be super blessed by some photos! Find a Ronald McDonald house (provides housing for pediatric patients and their families who need care far from home), and ask the manager who might benefit. Social workers at pregnancy clinics also can point you towards moms/families who are unable to have portraits taken of their children. (Haha, can you tell I work in a hospital?)
    And, I feel like this is entirely too long already, but here’s my fave family that I took pictures of ‘pro bono’ recently. This family has THREE daughters who were all born with an extremely rare intestinal disorder requiring IV nutrition and liver/small bowel transplant. This slideshow is of photos I took of the older two girls. (The baby is 3 mos old) Both have received their transplants, and the older, with the feeding tube, received a second transplant last year. It was a blessing for ME to take these photos. Their mom has spent her entire adult life taking care of sick children. Family pro portraits are not even a blip on their radar. But to watch these little girls running around and playing after having seen them through the last 5 years of medical care was amazing. (PS-these are the kinds of families you can meet at a Ronald McDonald house ;))

    Thanks again, Zack, for putting all of this out there!

    Christine Elizabeth

  • Amy said on September 9, 2009

    I’m working with a local ministry that helps get food on the tables of people who are struggling to make ends meet. They have many different programs (a community garden, a food-box program, a weekly cafe, a thrift store, etc). They seem to have a strong presence in the community, but they have NO photos on their website. And they’ve been praying for someone to fill this need.

    So I’ve already met up with them and committed to work with them long-term – shooting portraits, events, anything they need. I’ll start shooting next week! I feel so very fortunate to have been able to follow my dream and go to photo school…it only makes sense for me to give back in this way. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity, and to get involved beyond the photography. The photos don’t matter at all, it’s about the PEOPLE.

    Thanks for the challenge, Zack! I’ve been struggling to find work since moving to Nashville recently. It’s such a burden off of my shoulders to be able to focus on something bigger than myself. It’s just wonderful.


  • Shawn Miller said on September 9, 2009

    It’s funny, I’ve been planning a service project for months now and then I saw your posts about calling photographers to service. Thanks for the push.

    I’m happy to say that it is now past planning and I have started! I’m calling it the Veterans Portrait Project. I go talk to vets and make a portrait, they buy a print for a couple dollars and all the money gets donated to disabled veterans. A project for vets, by vets; and a documentary project before these great people pass away. I’m trying to spread the idea and get photographers to do the same in their local areas.

    I went to an airshow and talked to some guys that fought in WWII. One of them was an aerial photographer in a B-24 over the Pacific, so we talked a while and I made some portraits. It’s been a successful start so far, I’m hoping it continues.

  • Paul said on September 9, 2009

    It’s not that people are saying “no” Zack…it’s just that it hard to get in touch with people who might want some free pics. Some of us only have a few followers or blog visitors so our audience is somewhat limited.

  • Adam R. said on September 9, 2009

    Hey Zack! I have been hitting the streets hard! I am going to be helping out a low income dental clinic for children by taking photos and doing some layouts for fund raising events and promotional.
    Man I can’t tell you how stoked I am for the inspiration to do this. Along with everyone else here it seems like…things aren’t as great as they could be in our area…it feels really good to be part of making things a little better by taking some pictures.

  • Jefrey said on September 9, 2009

    @Paul – Maybe try changing your approach? I found that the people I am trying to help ( did not “need” free photos. They Needed food, clothes and beds. Only after I approached them and asked permission to take some photos, did I find that they had no photos on their website, which someone else is running for them.
    People in real need don’t always see the need for “free photos” – they are busy trying to get through the day. It is up to us to try and help identify an area where we can assist, IMO…

  • molly moore said on September 10, 2009

    I have to admit that I haven’t done a damn thing yet. I’m still stuck in the “I’m not good enough; nobody wants me to shoot them” mode.
    You actually critiqued me on a wedding that I shot for my cousin, and I sooo appreciate it.
    So please pray for me, and keep kicking my ass with your blog, that I’ll grab hold of some motivation.
    I did just get a call for some actual work for pay, which I hardly get (mainly because I’m not putting myself out there enough), so that’s boosted my confidence somewhat.

  • Shawn Grimes said on September 10, 2009

    I had two people interested but then they stopped returning my calls/email. I’m now reaching out again to find someone to help. I’ve been re-posting a “call for help/Help me, help them” daily on Facebook so that my 190+ followers see it and might recommend someone they know. I’ve also reached out directly to a friend who is very active in the community and I’m going to reach out to a pre-k teacher friend (pre-k around here is provided only to low income families so it might be a good resource for finding someone)

  • Dirk Lottering said on September 10, 2009

    Well where do I start really!?! Been following your RSS feeds and great stuff thanks. Don’t see myself as a very good “photo artist” and everything I know is self taught by reading and practising the basics over and over again. About two years ago I bought a new camera after mine was destroyed on a road trip through Namibia and vowed to get my money’s worth of shots with the new toy. Immediately setup sessions going out once a week after work in London with colleagues and friends on equal basis that we learn from each other. I do understand the technical aspects of photography fairly well and quickly although my artistic side is not that inspiring compared to my mechanical ability to do things – this I have accepted and can live with.

    However I do enjoy teaching people and helping them get better and this is my goal to help individuals who just bought very expensive kit and then can’t understand why it does not take those “great” photo’s they see in magazines, website etc. So after reading your RSS on Monday and think how I love that woooshhhhhhh sound of deadlines going over my head you set with no real excuse or answer to why I am not doing what I want to do – DSLR photography introduction teaching/training. Had lunch with an old friend yesterday and he mentioned how they love looking at photo’s I take of our little 8 month old boy and he is thinking of buying a pro camera to make the same shots with his family. Immediately of course I rambled off on how he should realise that the person who holds the camera makes 95% of the shot and the camera just processes the other 5% as a keep sake. I then realised the opportunity is knocking. My offer was “How about I setup a 6 week course, we go out one evening a week for couple of hours and I take you through the basics of kit, camera functions, aperture, shutter speed etc on a very basic level for free in return for feedback on whether this was useful, informative and if you would actually paid money to do this?”

    He was so taken by the idea that he bought himself a new camera today and on my recommendation wait until he has done the “course” before spending more cash on expensive kit he might not use going forward.

    All the guys who shot with me last year excelled and some of them went from zero to hero which made me feel really good purely because if I did not keep on driving the idea of getting out there week in week out to go shoot they would have been exactly where I am still now – ironic that isn’t it! The first steps been made already by me registering a domain name (long overdue) and setting up a blog and RSS feed through WordPress – again thanks Zack your feeds inspired me to this. Now in between my day job, spending time with my wife, son and mental Springer spaniel the game is on to setup a 6 week course with a small group as trail run to see whether I can end my 9:00-18:00 day job misery once and forever. This needs to be in place before end October so hope to give some feedback during the time in how it progress.

    Best of luck to everybody out there and remember a poor man is not one without a penny but one without a dream!

  • Cass said on September 10, 2009

    Though not a ‘pro’ (pro-in-training…someday…my website will hit your inbox for review–remember me please:-) I volunteered to shoot an event to raise funds to build a park for physically challenged kids. It was a great event that rasied tons of cash with over 400 attendees. I believe the shots were much appreciated and it felt great to be able to offer my time. Thanks Zack!

  • Anonymous said on September 10, 2009

    I’m anonymous from comment #21 – wanted to clarify a bit.

    I’m not in any way trying to make this happen just by social networking. In fact, that was a last resort for me. I first pounded the pavement. I visited charities I’ve worked with before. Animal shelters where I adopted my pets (offered to help update their website, photograph events, offer a free adoption welcome home portrait gift certificate for the next 5 people to adopt pets – they didn’t see a need for any of it). When I dropped off a bag of hotel shampoos and soaps at the women’s shelter, I asked how I could help them (again, website updates, donating sessions for charity events, photographing events for them, etc.). I was met with disinterest. It was only after I was turned down by them that I made a plea to my friends and coworkers to offer them an absolutely free, absolutely no strings attached family session on facebook and email.

    So now I’m at a loss. I’m dropping into my winter self doubt photography blahs about 3 months early.

  • Luke said on September 10, 2009

    I am sort of floating out in the water but still holding onto the dock.

    So, where I’ve been:
    * I did some photos for my family when we were all gathered together by a sudden death in the family. Some of my local family members want me to do their Christmas card photos now after seeing the results.
    * I was at a wedding this past weekend. I’m using a D40 and had my SB600 attached and was using mostly my 50mm 1.4. I have been getting email and facebook messages from lots of the people that were there, and even some of their family members complimenting me on the photos. Also, both the bride and the groom used my photos for their facebook pictures even though plenty of people had DSLRs and the official photographers shot in digital and had the pictures up that night.
    * I signed up on the help-portrait site, but no word there yet.

    So why I am still holding onto the dock:
    * Biggest reason: I am using just a D40. Are people going to take me seriously when they see me using it?
    * My pictures are FINALLY getting to a spot where I feel proud of the shots I am taking. But my biggest fear is letting people down and having them feel like I have wasted their time. How do I get around this?
    * Lastly, with the smaller capture area and limited post production skills, should I really be marketing my talent, or should I just be practicing? I do not want to try to market my pictures, have people think they are trash, and not get opportunities to turn this into something great because I showed around stuff that was not too much.

    Thanks for reading this.

    Boston, MA

  • Matt Sanderson said on September 10, 2009

    I tried. I really did.

    No takers and my post on a ‘local’ forum was deleted due to advertising. Advertising what? A free service?


    I can’t even give myself away for free these days. :(

    – Matt

  • Joseph Lynn said on September 10, 2009

    I had an idea back in May that I finally got off the ground. is a site I started for the purpose of getting photographers to volunteer time to provide military families with free portrait sessions. The site will connect these photographers with military families that are directed there from military support forums and organizations.
    I invite everyone to register and check out the site.

  • Darryl said on September 10, 2009

    hmmm…this is beginning to remind me of the end of ‘Boyz n the Hood’ scene where at the end of the movie…Ice Cube’s voice over ask the dude what was he looking to the sky for…and the dude replies he was waiting for his Lord and Savior..then the voice over ask the dude what he was going to do in the meantime and from what I can remember the movie/credits ended…

    I didn’t get that scene until this group of post…you know… we don’t have to be the next Arias, Jarvis, Hobby, Lebowitz, Deluy…etc… but what we can be is a someone who makes a difference in someones life in our community. Who cares if we get national acclaim for it… maybe getting off the dock is as close to our front door as the stray cat that was left behind when our next door neighbor left in the middle of the night…and the only thing we can do is to make a profound capture of the innocent animals left behind in the aftermath…it might not make us rich..but it might bring attention to a worthy cause that is plaguing our community… but we’ll never know if we just stay on the dock…


  • Denise said on September 10, 2009

    Last week I was listening to an interview with a representative of the Kadena Special Olympics on AFN radio. I did some calling around to find out who the was the POC I needed to talk to. I left a message with the Special Olympics Kadena rep. I just heard back from them. We spoke for a little bit and she took my information. Since we are in another country and there’s Military members present a request is being placed thru the chain of command to allow me to take pictures. The rep definitely sounded positive about it going thru. The project is on going from now til Nov 14 so I’ll take pictures as they need me at different events :)

    Have a great night from Okinawa, Japan!

  • Ty Fischer said on September 11, 2009

    I am setting up Help Portrait, Springfield, Ohio and I am the founder of Eyes Wide Open Worldwide also currently working with a ministry in Russia working with deaf orphans on a photography project from the children’s perspective

  • Ty Fischer said on September 11, 2009

    sorry. here is the correct link

  • michael thompson said on September 11, 2009


    I am working on a project with three other photographers in Medellin, Colombia to take pictures of orphans throughout the city. The photos will be put on a disk and given to the parents who adopt the children. It feels so good to do something wonderful for these kids. Imagine trying to take photos of 65 kids hanging all over you. A rewarding challenge to say the least. Love your “call to action” post. Inspiring!

  • Garrett Seiple said on September 11, 2009

    Like so many who follow you, I was on the proverbial edge of the dock and within your open forum and shear honesty I found the motivation to start a year long project. A weekly exploration of the island I live on. I live on an island in Rhode Island that is rich in history and tiny nuances that scream to be explored and photographed.

    Thank you for the the kick in the pants(I credited you in the first post with being the inspiration to start this and put a link to your blog).

    Garrett Seiple

  • Brett said on September 11, 2009

    So, I’ve achieved two small things since this began.

    First, I created a webpage (just a basic blog to start), although I haven’t had time to post much yet.

    Second (and this might be considered cheating since the process began earlier this year), but I offered up my photography services in early Spring for an auction benefiting my daughter’s elementary school. This was a big step for me at the time because I am not a professional and have only had formal sessions with friends and family in the past. At the time, the winning bidder mentioned a fall photo shoot, but has never contacted me to schedule. So, even though I am quite nervous about the shoot, I contacted the winning bidder to schedule the shoot, and we now have a date of Oct 18th.

    Thanks for the inspiration,

  • jim lyle said on September 11, 2009

    as always, thanks for the encouragement. connected with an NGO close to the georgia dome that is doing a gala this fall- shot two sessions and have one more to go- creating 20 large portraits, a la richard avedon. good for our craft. good for our souls. good for our lives.

  • Lou said on September 11, 2009

    Yeah… hmm… To be completely honest, I haven’t pulled my camera out of the bag in at least a week. Why? Don’t know… stressed, I guess. Not really my day job, even though it’s our busiest season, I just cannot hate my job. My computer was dead for two weeks (how I fixed it, I have NO idea), stress with stuff at the home life with finances, my wife, etc. Joy.

    So… I’m just basically ranting about how I’ve done absolutely nothing productive photography-wise in the past week or two. And while I can come up with a handful of excuses, I know they’re exactly that. Add to that the complete fear of working with someone for the first time and looking like a complete idiot with pics to mirror that, as well as absolutely zero creative initiative when people HAVE asked for a shoot, and, well.. wtf.

    Long story short, I need to shit or get off the pot, basically. But I’m pretty freaked out about that. Lame.

  • Jeff said on September 12, 2009


    I took a day off work and brought my equipment over to a family members house who runs a preschool in her basement. With my wife’s help, I took some shots of the kids doing school work and playing, and then did a very lame background setup(only stuff I own right now) and took photos (yes I did have flash backs of school picture day, but kept going) of each kid, and now I am going through them for the parents. Thanks to you I got off my butt and did something. Love the blog, thanks for all the great encouragement.


  • Katie said on September 12, 2009

    Zack, I was totally inspired by your challenge a few weeks ago, but didn’t think to post about it until reading all the above stories and checking all the links… what great things people are doing.

    So, for my project I contacted a group home for trouble teen girls and offered to come take portraits of each girl. They were thrilled and I went up the next Saturday. I shot tons of each girl (9 total) as well as some group shots and family pics of the people who care for the girls.

    It was fun to see them so excited and I loved their reactions when I let them see the back of the camera. I know these girls are obviously there for a reason so I kept telling them how gorgeous I thought they were and tried to point out something I noticed in each girl. It was a long, exhausting and FUN evening.

    I am still working on post-production (there are a ton of images… hard to choose), but I’ll let you know when they are up to see.

    Thanks for the inspiration to get out and do something good. I loved so many of the other ideas above that I’m thinking of making this a monthly goal. There are certainly enough people who need it.


  • Jay said on September 12, 2009

    I’m done. I’m not a portrait photographer but still jumped in with both feet. I partnered up with a state cancer program and took six portraits of cancer survivors. The “Faces of Cancer” exhibition will be going on a state wide tour to raise awareness and give hope to those currently battling this disease.

    I’d be lying if I said that I took on the project for completely selfless reasons. Very quickly the project took on an importance much bigger than I. The cause is better and more important than my photography. I’m completely convinced that even though I poured my heart and soul into the project, I failed. Others (mostly non photographers) may look at the images and be enamored but I wished I could do more-better.

    In spite of bumbling through the project, I really hope to make this an annual event. Jack Nickelson said “You make me want to be a better man.” These shoots made me want to be a better photographer. It’s a sadomasochist type of inspiration like I’ve never experienced before and can’t wait to have again.

    Take Zack’s advice and get off your butt, find something important and bigger than yourself, and go shoot it!!!!!

  • laura said on September 12, 2009

    Just coming out of the woodwork to say I’m another person who actually got it done. Heard about a place called the Joshua Station in downtown Denver and did portraits of formerly homeless children for their parents. It was amazing, totally worth it, and actually very easy…not bragging…just saying sometimes we dread things a lot more than we should.

    To be totally cliche, I feel like I benefited from doing that way more than they did.

    It seemed natural for me to go through a church since they are already connected to so many places in the community that have needs–I recommend trying that.

  • Brittany said on September 13, 2009

    Thanks for the inspiration. I will be going to a babies home here in Chile(for babies up to age 3 who have been abandoned or removed from their families due to violent circumstance) once a month to take pictures of all the kids so that they will have a record of their infancy and childhood when they can return to their families or get adopted.
    Doesn’t quite fit on your timeline but I’m so excited and proud to have the chance to help in a unique way.


  • Thatcher D said on September 13, 2009

    I just got hired by a studio to run the studio and shoot! So stoked!! I’m putting in my 2 weeks tomorrow!

  • Andres Jimenez said on September 14, 2009

    Hello Zack,

    This is Andres from London, UK, I have teamed up with 2 other guys from over here and got the blog for helpportraitUK started, you can check it out at , our email address is helpportraituk [at] gmail [dot] com. We are waiting for the meeting results to start planning, I hope it will be a blast!!#


  • H said on September 14, 2009

    I am late to jump on this wagon of lovliness.

    I have been busy and haven’t been able to follow Zack as much as I like to lately.

    So I just started, I’m working on trying to hook up with a local organization that helps pregnant teens finish school and find housing. They help the very poor people for the most part and I’m sure these young mothers would LOVE to have photographs of them and their babies or just their babies. I’ve only done one baby shoot to date and I well find it hard and awkward but the mother loved the photos. So. I’ll try again. It’s my goal for this project. I don’t have a problem getting off my ass to go photograph something… my problem is getting off my ass to exercise… that’s where I need to have a call to action. ha. So.. for my birthday, next sunday I asked for boot camp.

    Trying to make a life change


  • David Sno said on September 14, 2009

    I’m so overwhelmed I don’t even know where to start.

    …I love photography, I love that it can isolate you from the world when it’s in your hands, and when you find the right moment, you snap and YOUR world, YOUR vision, all comes together. I also love how this photog community is becoming so open, so willing to help. I’ve wrote a post before but I wasn’t able to press send… I felt ashamed of myself and I know I’m capable of sooo much more. Now, I’m posting because I know it’s okay that sometimes, you just gotta ask for help… No matter how strong you think you are, you can’t handle EVERYTHING.

    So, here is my story. I’ll keep it short. 2 years ago my dad got deported during the round ups in California, 100 people a day were taken. He was sent to the Philippines for something he did over 30 years ago as a teenager. They took him away and we never got to say goodbye. Took him away from a wife of 20 plus years, two girls and me, at 20 years old, I was the new man of the house.

    We decided to get away from Cali and out of a memory filled house to come to Atlanta, GA. I knew I had to start making money, fast. I worked soo many odd jobs that I got depressed and didn’t know what I was doing or if we would make it. 1 year ago I work at walmart and saved up enough to my first DSLR. Canons XSi. I have a 50mm 1.8 and the horrid kit lens. During the time I worked at walmart I also cleaned commercial buildings at night. So for almost two years I’ve been working about 70-80 hours a week slaving at walmart or cleaning crap off of floors and toilets. And I have absolutly nothing to show for it except the tricks I know now on how best to get THAT off of THERE. (if you have to ask, you shouldn’t know)

    well, even after putting all my efforts into that, I one day showed up to clean one of my buildings only to a Laotian guy staring at me like WTF? Because he and I were wearing the same shirt, same cleaning company logo. So, I already knew.. I was done… I turned around never looked back.

    It’s only been two weeks but in these two weeks, I’ve decided that damn it! I know I’m better than this and so many others chase their dream, why can’t I.

    This is where you tell me ways to get around my problems.

    Since I was only making enough to cover bills, I now have zero dollars.
    I know that gear helps, but vision is better.
    I need help sharing my vision and gain experience.
    I started a blog/website but I can’t even afford to pay for it anymore
    if it’s still up check it out at
    my laptop(only computer) died. Probably because I kept telling it how much I hate windows.. =x

    so I have no job, no money, lucky I don’t have a car payment but the car is seriously in need of a tune up and my tired hydroplane like it’s playtime. I have allllll the drive in the world, I know I have potential, I’ve reached out to other local photogs to ask to mentor me and I’ve yet to get a responce.

    I own my fate, but I just need a little help with directions. I hope this reaches someone, i promise to return the favors to the next kid that asks.

    And like I said, my laptop died, so I typed this all on my iPod, you can find me a lot of times at the forum in norcross at barnes and noble where the books and wifi are free while I’m there :) and of course, camera will be around my neck.

    Ps. Between working 80 hours and taking care of family life, I was able to teach myself photography basics, and this week, 9 months into having the camera body, I made my 10k frame. :)

    I’m also on

    encouragement welcome.

  • Jay Jay said on September 15, 2009

    Hi Zack,

    I just found out about this and would like to join. Can I still join?


  • Chuck said on September 15, 2009

    After a meeting with the Pregnancy Care Center, I’m going to shoot portraits for seven (so far) young ladies. These portraits will be used for the Care Center’s fund raising event in November. The Care Center is so excited (as am I).

    The shoot is next Wednesday.

  • Dana~from chaos to Grace said on October 22, 2009

    SO, I’m thinking now that I’ve started, I can’t stop! LOL

    And I’m LOVING it! 😀 (That is a BIG toothy grin! LOL)

    We have a new guy at church who is starting a new Youth ministry, and happened to see my Bridal portraits I’ve done and asked if I’d be interested in doing photos for his website and promotional stuff. Obviously, his ministry is new and couldn’t offer me money. So I did them for FREE and his ENTIRE website is my PHOTOS!

    WOOHOOOO!! I am totally flattered and LOVE this!

    ANNNNND…I had the opportunity to shoot a portrait for a breast cancer survivor and now I’m seriously considering offering this to cancer patients! And from the over 800 hits on my blog in 2 days after doing it, I’d say people are interested! 😀

    So this has not only kicked me in the pants, but it may have snowballed into blessings for other people that I never imagined!

    God has blessed more over and above by His mercy and grace, and the overflow is splashing all over everyone around me! YAY!

    Thanks, Zack! I’m still working!

  • Doug Robertson said on December 5, 2009

    I know this is late, but I’ve created a gallery of photos for churches to use for free.

    It’s here:

  • jim lyle said on December 8, 2009

    we just finished a long-term pro bono project that got bigger than we ever thought it would be. have worked before with an agency close to the dome that does transitional long-term housing for women and children. over the last 10 weeks shot almost 100 women and 50+ kids. gave them copies of their portraits, and then the agency wanted to use some images for a gala; did serious work on 20, had them printed on 4X5′ canvas and installed in the gala facility. changed the gala from a typical ‘i’m so important for helping’ to ‘look at the beauty of these people’- absolutely incredible. in the process, we realized that when you strip-away the context and can only see the person, their beauty can be overwhelming. thanks for the encouragement to get involved.

  • Serenityville said on March 15, 2010

    Hi Zack, can you link me to Derrick? Just saw your video on “When did I become my mom” and LOVED it and LOVE Derrick, and want to see more. Thx.
    And, I can’t figure out how to follow you…if you have a tip, much appreciated.

Speak Up

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *