One of the key challenges for every professional photographer is building your brand. You want to build a reputation that creates top-of-mind awareness when a potential client has a photographic need. Numerous times over the years I've talked about being involved in your community. I've suggested professional photographers teach a class on photography. I've also suggested checking in with the local elementary school and offering to participate in Career Day as a speaker.
Well, here's a photographer who took it one step further with her own photography camp. Meet Erin Clark Zahradka. She's a mom, passionate about photography and loves working with kids. Her mother was a teacher, so she grew up with a healthy respect for education. She launched her own Z-Pics Kids Camp and the concept is a home run, destined to just keep growing!
There are few things as fun as working with kids interested in photography. It's a terrific way to have some fun with your own skill set and at the same time help inspire a future artist. Even better is how uncomplicated the process can be.
Erin has five girls in camp this week, shooting with everything from point and shoots to cell phones to an SLR. She's teaching them the basics, but at the same time they're getting exposed to concepts to build self-esteem and pride as an artist.
Take it one step further and think about your own passion for the craft. What if somebody had given you the opportunity when you were a kid to work on a photography project with other kids your age? What would you have learned about cooperation and respect for the different ways we all see the world? Now, put a camera in your hand at that young age and the spark to be an artist some day might have been ignited even earlier.
This year's photo camp has five "campers", but watch out, the concept has incredible potential to just keep growing. You don't need to know the kids to recognize the passion for the craft in their faces, the respect they have for each other or the developing pride they have as artists.
In thinking more about Erin's photo camp idea, I was struck by something Erin's mother wrote on her Facebook page,
"A photography class wouldn't have worked for you when you were in 3rd grade, because you would have had to wait a week to 10 days to get the photos back from the developer!"
Technology has given our industry so many tools, including the ability to teach photography in a way most of us would have thrived...although these kids will never recognize the smell of acetic acid in the darkroom, the patience of putting a print through the wash and waiting for it to dry...yeah, I'm old! LOL But, I wouldn't change that foundation from the darkroom for anything!
So, to the Z-Pics Kids Camp "Class of '14", thanks for sharing your enthusiasm! I for one, will be following your photo careers and who knows, Erin might have just planted the seed for the next Annie Leibovitz, Anne Geddes or Mary Ellen Mark.
About Erin Clark Zahradka
In addition to her main business, Z-pics, Erin is also the founder of AIBP ( Association of International Boudoir Professionals). I've done a couple of hangouts with them to talk about marketing and I'm always blown away by their interest level and the dedication of the members to build a stronger business. If you're interested in boudoir, this little group has a lot of horsepower and some outstanding talent in its membership. Here's the link to check it out.
Images copyright Erin Clark Zahradka. All rights reserved.