One of the truly meaningful things I enjoy doing as a landscape photographer is donating my work to worthy causes. While I do get lots of requests, I generally only entertain those I feel strongly about, or I think have lasting value. The environment and education are two that I value greatly, and I can honestly say the opportunities I’ve had to contribute to each have been more gratifying than any sale I’ve made of my work.
A favorite book puts it this way:
”Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.” The Go-Giver
One of the main reasons I moved to the Hudson Valley region of New York almost 15 years ago was to be closer to the Mohonk Preserve. An 8,000 acre park just 90 miles of NYC, it is the largest non-profit nature preserve in the state. I’ve been visiting Mohonk for over 20 years to hike, bike, photograph, and just enjoy solitude in nature. I continue to visit as often as I can, most often with my family – for us there’s no better way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning. I also conduct regular photography workshops in the preserve, and it’s never a disappointment for any of the students – quite the opposite, which hopefully adds to the long list of supporters Mohonk needs and depends on to stay open for future generations.
Every year Mohonk holds an annual benefit auction to raise money for operating costs, and I’m very proud to say this is my fifth year donating a fine art print to help raise funds. There’s no question that the Mohonk Preserve and their commitment to environmental protection has been beneficial to me, my family, and many others in the Hudson Valley, and I will continue to support them in the future however I can.
This year I’ve chosen a photograph I made several years ago – First Light at Mohonk, but have never shown before in public. I often leave images in my “archive” without sharing or printing, perhaps because I want some objective distance with which to evaluate them at some point in the future. Sometimes that might be weeks, other times years. For me it brings some objectivity and further insight to my work, and this image in particular resonated more with me now than it did before. The creative process does not always lead to clear results, and sometimes what we all need is a bit of distance from the many images we capture – that also lets experience become a bigger factor.
Why is Mohonk special? Within a 30 minute drive from my home, I can find pristine glacial lakes, miles of hiking trails in lush forest settings, amazing ridge line hikes with fantastic views of the Catskill Mountains or Hudson Valley, and in my opinion some of the best mtn biking and cross country skiing trails in the northeast. Add to that limitless photo opportunities – waterfalls, pitch pine landscapes, hypnotic streams and creeks, and the four seasons to keep conditions ever evolving. If you haven’t visited yet, or better still would like to support them, I urge you to become a member and enjoy a real treasure in the northeast.
And whether or not you live in the area, consider finding worthy causes to become involved in where you live, especially if you’re a photographer. You can make a difference, and I can think of no better way to use the unique and authentic gift of art and self-expression. I can guarantee you that giving will bring you success in ways you least expected or imagined.
“It’s not that successful people are givers; it is that givers are successful people.” – Patti Thor