Photographic Life Goals, Making Wise Portraits and Losing Margaret

I have big dreams for my life, my creativity and my photography. I really do live for photography and believe it can make a difference in the world and in the lives of families–like when I photograph seniors for The Wise Photo Project, it does change their world. Those photographs aren’t just another family portrait job–like some Sears or JC Penney portrait studio–but an artful, legacy photograph I make to exist for multiple generations to come.

It feels like it doesn’t matter to many people, “so what”, photography has little worth. After all it’s in all of our phones and there are millions of images made every second. Anything that plentiful is going to lack value. That’s just simple economics.

But I’m not making family photographs at JC Penney every year in a cookie-cutter way to make print sales. I’m not in the commissioned photo sales business.

I’m not even making multiple photographs, just one in the example of the seniors I photograph, and gifting it to them.

But what I’m doing is also growing, I’m influencing other photographers to work with me to change the world with me. More photographers are joining and getting inspired to make their own Wise Photo Project photographs.

Mark Smith of Denver made these 17 portraits and delivered them this week. That’s a life win!

There’s a photographer, Jeff Botts, in Lexington Kentucky making Wise Photo Portraits. And we’re just getting started. There has been a lot of interest, multiple inquiries from other photographers around the world on how they can contribute. (Some photographers want to, but find it challenging to get started–if this sounds like you, contact me, I’ll help you make it a reality.)

Each additional photographer that takes up the project and brings more portraits to more families, each one’s a new win.

This is the way I am changing the world–the world of these families. One beautiful portrait at a time.

Margaret is a 98-year-old I had the honor to photograph last fall. This spring, just days ago, she passed, and her family is grateful to have this portrait to keep her close and always remember her. That’s why I call it an honor to make this work, these portraits, more valuable than a Van Gogh to the family, this is “gramma” and with this framed photograph displayed in their home, she will never cease to be with them. She is never forgotten. Her sweet face is a constant in their life.

I make a lot of different kinds of documentary photographs, plus many commercial, editorial and even studio portrait headshots for business people, but nothing compares to this work. Work that puts my photographs in home galleries around the globe (I’ve had multiple people tell me they had sent a photograph I made to a foreign country to bring a familiar face to a family member in a distant place.)

These are portraits that will outlive all of us, photographs that will exist for many generations to come, my portraits, ones I initiated to have made and some that were made by photographers I influenced, and now their work is in home galleries around the world, too. How cool! Maybe collectively, we can create the largest body of work on display in the world.

We grow with each additional photographer who joins us. Exponentially we will keep growing until we are in every corner of the world, making portraits of these sweet wonderful old faces, the ones who made us all possible by making the decision to start a family all those years ago. May the project continue to grow and prosper with more photographs made every day. You can follow the project and join in with us at this Facebook Group for The Wise Photo Project.

Want to support my shows? You can, just visit this link at Paypal, or go to to add your monthly contribution to keep the lights on!

Check out my YouTube Channel of Photography Talks: my 6×6 Portraits Blog (you’re here) and my Daily Photography Podcast. Thanks!

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