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(Photo is copyright Nicole S. Young – All Rights Reserved)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest post by Salt Lake City photographer Rich Legg. I met Rich last year at a SLC Photowalking meetup. He’s a very talented photographer and teacher. Be sure to check out his blog.


One of the things that I work hard to do in my photographic life is to live by what I call the 80/20 Principle. What I mean by this, simply put, is that I strive to spend 20% of my photographic time on non-revenue producing activities. These projects vary in size and complexity but they carry one common thread, I am not looking to help myself in them but rather give back through my time and skills.

The biggest example of this that comes to mind is my involvement in Photowalking Utah. I was initially approached by two other Utah photographers in 2007 to help in starting a photowalking group in Salt Lake City. The three of us organized the first outing in October of that year with a small group on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Since that time Photowalking Utah has grown to 600+ members and has held more than 30 events. The mission of the group is to allow photographers of all skill levels, from beginner to professional, to be able to get together in a non-threatening environment and share their experiences while taking pictures. It hit home with me this past July that the group is succeeding in its focus of getting shooters together when over 125 people showed up for the Salt Lake City editions of the Worldwide Photowalk led by myself and Nicole Young.

Carrying on with the “giving back to the community” theme, in late 2008 I began offering free photography “Mini-Clinics” through Photowalking Utah and the Salt Lake City Library. Earlier in my life I was a real estate educator, and while I really enjoyed teaching I didn’t much care for the subject. I have found that combining my teaching skills with my passion for photography has resulted in a very rewarding experience. In the year that I have been doing it over 400 people have attended these free clinics.

My point in sharing this information is not to say “look at me and what I am doing”, but rather to motivate others to do the same. I firmly believe in the principle that “he who refreshes others, will himself be refreshed”. I know that when helping others and stepping away from my work photography, I return feeling rejuvenated and more inspired in my daily work.

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(Photo is copyright Nicole S. Young – All Rights Reserved)

You don’t have to be a full-time professional photographer to begin the 80/20 principle. In fact, you don’t even have to do it in photography. If there is something else you are passionate about, consider sharing a portion of that time helping others. Maybe you love doing yard-work and having incredible looking landscaping at your home. Could you take those skills and start a local group working to beautify public spaces or the homes of those less fortunate? By using your natural gifts to help others you might be surprised at how much you will actually grow in return.

There are plenty of ways to do this as a photographer. The first thing I would encourage people to do is get involved in a local photographic club. Find one that makes it fun for those involved and that has a mission of helping others. If you can’t find one nearby, then that is the perfect opportunity to start one. You might start with only a few people who share you vision, but with time it could grow into a great group.

Another way to give back is to help those less fortunate with your skills as a photographer. The biggest example of this is the new Help Portrait movement. This one day event on December 12th is designed for photographers to give back to those less fortunate this holiday season through the use of their time, skills and equipment. This is a perfect example of using the 80/20 Principle to help others.

Please take a moment and reflect on what you can begin doing today to use your photography to help others. We live in a fantastic period of time with incredible equipment, technology and communication available at our fingertips. It’s never been easier to get the word out and begin growing your photographic community.

And guess what? You might even find that by living this 80/20 principle, the 80% of time you spend on yourself might become more rewarding than the 100% used to be.