Having It All!

How can I have it all? Well, you must first determine what “all” is! For many of us, as photographers, we want to be successful! But then again, what is success? The first thing that comes to mind is fame and fortune; you are well known and respected as photographer, and you make boat loads of money with your images! Please allow me to pull rank on you. At 66 years of age, I’ve learned a great deal about these questions, and more importantly, the answers! Let me share some thoughts with you.

Let’s start with fame. I hate to burst your bubble, but there are no famous photographers. Now I didn’t say that some photographers are not well known, some certainly are, but mostly among other photographers. It’s what is called positional fame. If you were an auto mechanic who has been named America’s Top Mechanic three of the last four years, you certainly would be well known among mechanics, just not to the general public! It is the same for us, we may reach a measure of recognition among our peers, but the general public has no idea who we are. Elvis was famous, the Beatles are famous, Brad Pitt is famous. As photographers we can never hope to get that kind of attention, and I say great! Would you really want to wear a disguise to go out to dinner to keep from being recognized and hounded by the paparazzi? I bet you’re saying no!

O.K. so we have settled the fame business, how about fortune? Well if you find a way to become incredibly wealthy being a photographer, let me know!! Can you make a good living as a photographer? Sure, but only a handful of photographers have ever gone on to become millionaires on the strength of their work. So it would seem that both of those are goals not worthy of our time and effort. That leaves us with the task of redefining success.

Let me share with you my definition of success:
“To love and be loved, to have a purpose, goals, and aspirations that lead to a better life for those around me. To laugh a lot, smile even more, and enjoy the greatest gifts God has given me; faith, fellowship, peace, and joy!”

In the summer of 2012 I find myself smack dab in the middle of that definition. As I prepare to retire from my full time job, I’m starting another stage in my life, that of being a full time, servant of Christ! What does this have to do with photography!?

Photography is my vocation and avocation, and I love to share it. I love to teach and fellowship with others that have a love for this craft. I also have given my life completely to Jesus Christ, and my service to Him is to love others as He loves them!

I’m so excited because the rest of my life will be dedicated to sharing these two great passions with those that will allow me to be a part of their lives. Now I’ve actually been doing that for a long time, but with a new workshop company I’ve started, it will have an official home. A couple of years ago I started a company called His Light Workshops, and soon after took on a great friend, and wonderful photographer, Jim Begley as my partner in the venture. Jim is not only a world class photographer specializing in HDR, he’s also a great Christian brother with the same goals as mine, to reach out in His name.

His Light Workshops will be a place where people who want to learn how to become a better photographers, can do so, in a faith based environment. I’ve run photography workshops for many years, eleven of those years as the director and founder of the Great American Photography Workshops. I’m very proud to say that the GAPW had one of the highest approval ratings from our customers of all the workshop series of it’s time. The formula was simple, give people great instruction, from gifted leaders, in beautiful locations, have a lot of fun, and make the workshops a great value!

His Light starts where the GAPW ended, except we now have added the most important component, sharing Christ’s love!  We’ve now run workshops in a half dozen locations and the big difference is not only do we get calls and emails from our Guests thanking us for a great learning experience, we also get a lot of messages that say, “It was a life changing experience!” That has been Jim’s and my goal from the start and with each new workshop, more and more people are finding not only increased photographic skills but also a stronger, deeper, and more meaningful purpose for their lives.

We’ve been joined by such great photographers and leaders as Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, and RC Concepcion. Many other wonderful photographers will be joining us in the future to share their vast knowledge and faith. Next year, Dr. Charles Stanley, well known pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, will join us for a fall workshop, and Country/Bluegrass Legend, and 14 times Grammy Winner, Ricky Skaggs will be our guest leader when we do a His Light Americana Workshop in Nashville, Tennessee! I’m so excited because we’ve met so many great people at our workshops and many have become fantastic friends, and new brothers and sisters!

For the eleven years I headed up the GAPW, I drove over 70,000 miles a year to every major national park, many, more than once per year. It has made it so easy to plan and run these great new workshops after such a wealth of experience around the national park system. What a blessing that has been!

The next workshop will be in Page, Arizona and will feature RC Concepcion as our leader!  RC will teach on social media for photographers, how to create stunning websites, (he created mine!) and will also teach from his great book on HDR! He will be joined by myself, Jim Begley and our field team, John “Snake” Barrett and Chuck Barnes. We will shoot in such great locations as Lower Antelope Slot Canyon, Horseshow Bend, Toadstool Rocks,Paria Wilderness area and other great locations around the beautiful Lake Powell and  Escalante Basin. We’ll also have a dinner at the famous Paria Wilderness BBQ camp! Limited space is still available for this workshop November 7-11. It will be preceded with a optional 4 day whirlwind tour of  Monument Valley (full day with Navajo guides), Lower Antelope Slot Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park! *Very limited space still available in the tour.

So back to where we started, I’ve got it all!  God has provided a wonderful way for me to help support my family, have a blast in the company of great people, learn daily to be a better photographer, and more importantly to deepen my walk with Him!  You can have the fame and fortune,  He has made me a very wealthy man already!

Blessings,
Bill Fortney

For more information about His Light Workshops and Bill Fortney please visit BillFortney.com and HisLightWorkshops.com