"Let's have a look then" - with those words the professional photographer took hold of my camera. During my recent trip to the southern ocean it seemed everyone had a camera. With wildlife and breath taking scenery all around us photo ops were everywhere. Most of us, were amateurs carrying fairly expensive cameras. Three of our company were professional photographers armed with a dizzying array of technology, who routinely produced amazing pictures. It was intimidating to be even aiming at the same subjects, let alone have one of them analyze my results, but Lionel was a remarkably cheerful and insistent man.
"You've got not a bad eye" he pronounced after skimming through a few of my pictures, "But yer making it hard on yourself". What followed was an unsolicited 30 minute hands on workshop that soon me taking better pictures than I ever imagined. "You got to to be brave enough to take it off auto" Lionel pronounced. I have a Canon Rebel EOS digital SLR. One of its chief selling points was that it is "idiot-proof" - anyone can take great photos simply by using the auto functions. Having disavowed me of that belief, Lionel proceeded to show me some tricks of the trade and shooting techniques well suited to the types of pictures I was aiming for. "Now go and take a few yerself" were his parting words.
I did. The results were inspiring, and so much better than what I'd been producing before. When I asked Lionel about why he'd offered to help me, he just shrugged and smiled. "Gotta help a fellow photog now don't I?" he said with his broad New Zealand accent. Lionel's cheerful and selfless instruction, offered for no other compensation other than a love of the craft, improved my photography and added to the enjoyment of an already incredible holiday. It was a classic example of the concept of paying it forward. As I return to my day job I can't but think that perhaps we should all follow Lionel's example. When we see someone starting out, or struggling with an activity that we know and love, it can't hurt to lend a hand, offer a few tips and help them along the way. (For a more detailed explanation of the pay it forward concept see http://www.wikihow.com/Pay-It-Forward)
I've since shown my pictures to dozens of people and have heard many complements. Thanks Lionel! Good on you, as they say down under! Hopefully I'll pass on a similar favor to someone else one day!