It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Bill Fortney!

The Season For Giving
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 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!

Merry Christmas!
Bill Fortney

  1. Bill, thank you for these inspiring words! As Old dude, we both share the same order in life … GOD, Family and Work … in that order! It wasn’t until I put them in that order, that my life became much, much easier and happier! I also know the feeling of a thank you from young engineers that I mentor along the way! GOD Bless you and your family and have a Wonderful Christmas!


  2. Yesterday I was at In Touch Ministries in Atlanta and saw all of the nice photos by Charles Stanley on the walls. I was thinking of you as I looked at them and how I am sure your friendship and teaching had affected his work…and probably vice versa too.

  3. Bill, as another old dude chiming in on the conversation….Annie and I feel so blessed to know you, and be inspired not just by your work, but by your humble and decent nature, and the conduct of your life. You have helped many more people than you know, and not just photographically. All best for the Christmas season, and for a rousing start to a great New Year!

    1. Forgive me for pointing it out, but you’re not quiet a “Old Dude” yet, you have way to much energy and drive! You and Anne also have my respect and love! I pray you have a wonderful Christmas and we’ll tear the new year up together, I’ve still got a little energy!!! Your comment to me at the panel in Las Vegas Photoshop World was and will remain forever, one of the most gratifying compliments I’ve ever received!

  4. Well Said Bill!
    I too feel I am a teacher. I just hit the 15 year mark with my work at Oklahoma City Community College. When a student, regardless of the subject, comes to me and tells me that they couldn’t have succeeded without my help, it means more to me than the paycheck I get every month. I love what I do and search for inspiration from people like you, Scott, Moose and scores of others out there. Thank you for a great inspirational post for the holiday season!
    Merry Christmas to you too!!

  5. “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.”

    As a husband, father and brother in Christ, who’s now playing in the 3rd quarter, those words are inspiring and encouraging to me, as is your photography Bill. Have a blessed Christmas season.

  6. Bill, I’m a late second to Dennis’s thank you. I must add a thank you to everyone for the posted comments. Seeing the contributions of everyone is inspiring, too.

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