Since it is approaching Christmas, you may think this is an blog entry about Christmas gift giving, but it's actually not!
Let me start with a funny story! You may have heard Scott Kelby refer to me as "Bill Fortney - A Man Barely Alive!" and wondered what that is all about? Well let me give you the back story. I met Scott about a dozen years ago when I worked for Nikon and called on him as a client. We went on to become great friends! My father died at age 66 and I was in my mid to late fifties when I met Scott. I guess I thought with heredity and all I probably wouldn't live much longer than my father did! I was a two times cancer survivor and I'm a type two diabetic so I guess I thought my leash was short! Scott found it amusing that I would answer questions about if I would be a such an such event and I would say, "Sure, if I'm still around."
So that is how that whole a man barely alive thing got started. Let's fast forward a decade and I'm coming up on my 69th birthday in February, and even closer to the big last trip! I am a huge football fan. I once was actually the official photographer for the Washington Redskins, and in football terms I'm definitely in the 4th quarter! Since none of us knows the exact moment when we will be leaving this sphere, the two minute warning could have sounded for me already, who knows!?
Being at this stage in the game of life causes one to consider some pretty important questions, questions we should consider long before the middle of the fourth quarter! What is this life really about? How famous we are? How rich we become? Who admires us? I think not. I think this life is about leaving something valuable when you leave. For me, I have three main goals at this stage of my life: Serve my Heavenly Father and share his love with everyone I meet, be the best husband, father, and grandfather that I can possibly be, and lastly leave a photographic legacy I can be proud of.
How do you leave a photographic legacy? I'm not talking about a body of meaningful or beautiful work. I'm talking about helping others that love the same craft that I do. A lot of people have inspired me, and taught me over the past 45 years and they helped me to get better each day! It's my turn. I teach workshops, speak at events, do classes on KelbyOne, and write books because I want to share what I've learned with others.
Am I a good enough photographer to have anything worth sharing? I hope so, but the "information" I share, I know can help other photographers! I am at heart, and have always been a teacher. I love to see others learn and get excited about this craft I love so much. You can visit my website BillFortney.com to see my work, learn about my workshops and even buy my eBooks, but that is not why I wrote this article.
I want to encourage you to consider how you can take your considerable talent and knowledge and share it with those that could benefit from it! You could offer community classes in photography at your public library, or maybe your church. You could volunteer to teach a photography class for your local high school or adult education program. Many camera clubs and civic organizations are looking for programs, you could share your knowledge and entertain them! In Jay Maisel's wonderful new book, Light, Gesture, and Color, he thanked his high school art teacher Leon Friend for the incredible start he gave him, and the chance to become a member of the "Art Squad!" Just think what this high school art teacher gave us, all of us, that have learned so much from Jay!
I want to be that kind of a teacher, one that has students produce art long after I'm gone! Here is a secret… If you want to have a really great life, help others get what they need and want! Trust me, a thank you from someone that you have helped learn, is worth far more than fame and fortune!