Why I teach what I know: (Another) True Story
Here’s a little story that made me realize why I take time to help others, even when times are tough. Even since I graduated, I’ve been taking time to help all the emerging talent at the University of Washington Photography Club grow their skills and foster a network of like-minded people they can go shooting with. I’d like to share this story with you, along with some pictures I’ve taken at some of our recent demos.
Last week I was walking through the UW campus and I saw a film crew packing up their gear. On one cart was a Merlin Steadicam mechanical arm, and the rig operator was detaching all the battery packs, lining them up in a row on the cart. I’ve done some video work, but I’ve always been super curious to know how the “pros” do it. I’ve looked into the arm and vest rig (but you’re looking at an investment of several thousand dollars there) and I’ve seen demos and spec sheets and how to hack DIY parts together and everything else… except one thing. I didn’t understand why the steadicam company sold battery packs. Isn’t it just a weight and a gimbal? Why does upgrading from the handheld rig to the vest suddenly require battery packs? Is the arm like a Doc Oc super arm or something? (Wouldn’t that be awesome?!)
So I introduced myself and asked him.
The short answer is that you attach all kinds of things to that arm to get it to work (monitor, audio recording hub, mics, and even your camera) and that battery pack powers everything. You don’t need the battery to get smooth shots, but then each thing you attach needs it’s own power source, so those battery packs just make it easy. This is something I’ve been researching for months, and google could never tell me why this thing had battery packs and why another thing didn’t. I thanked him for taking the time to answer my question, because I’ve been looking for an answer for a long time now, and couldn’t find it.
What he told me next was “whenever anyone asks you a question, don’t blow them off. Take the time to answer. A little help goes a long way. Pass it on.”
This was taken with three $10 worklights and a flashlight. No photoshop. Ah, the power of light.
I’ve been teaching workshops and demos with Photo Club for a while, but this experience was the easy and articulate way to tell people why I do what I do. We could guard our secrets (like pros did pre-internet days, and some still do today). We could view any other person with a camera as competition. Or we can take the time to stop and answer another’s questions. We can view others in our field as people we can work with and learn from. You don’t gain anything from holding back, and you don’t lose anything from sharing what you know. It’s not a “You win, I lose” situation. Helping someone else won’t stop you from finding clients. Whether it’s a camera technique, a photoshop trick, a business insight, or just something profound that life has taught you, when someone asks you for help, don’t blow them off. Take the time to answer. A little help goes a long way.
Your turn. Pass it on.