I am thrilled and honored to have Photographer Shannon Kelley on the blog today, sharing her passion for giving back. I was instantly touched by her love for others when I visited her blog a few weeks ago and saw that she was listed as a Wedding Photographer and Humanitarian. My search to learn more lead me to her love for Haiti, her passion for others, and her impending decision to move to Haiti to make a bigger impact. I knew I wanted her to share her story with you so without further ado, I introduce you to the amazing Shannon. -Alicia
The first time I remember giving back was when I was 6. My sister and I had a lemonade stand to raise money for a homeless lady in my town. I guess it was destiny playing a part at a young age. My parents went on, soon after that, to move overseas as missionaries with us. I sit today in the same position as my mom and dad did way back then; about to undertake an adventure with my little family and attempt to give it all by moving overseas as a missionary. They seemed more brave than I feel now though.
Giving back has always been within me. So it naturally became something I did with my business. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without the element of giving back in my life and business. So while it started as something that I’m passionate about, it became more intentional over time. Early on I would give back here and there, wherever I felt led to and in many different ways. A lot of the randomness of my early giving was really due to my brand and life still developing. Now that my life and brand is more focused, I give back more in line with my business and future plans. Then I had the big a-ha moment of realizing that giving back does better your business. So even if you wouldn’t naturally be a person that gives back alot, I dare you to try it. Double dog dare you. I think you will find it more rewarding than you expect and in more ways than one. It’s a butterfly effect really.
You see, it started with a photo shoot. A random idea to give back to the local rescue mission by doing a Mother’s Day photo shoot for the moms that stay there. Then an employee there hired me to do their wedding photos, which solidified my love for weddings. Doing weddings led to quitting my full time job to do only photography. I loved it but missed community. So I reached out. I invited others to volunteer with me. We fed the homeless, we learned from each other, we became colleagues. My business grew. I was networking with heart without even realizing it. I blogged about my giving. Silly things like making cookies with my family to give out as a family to those on the street on Christmas Eve. Those blog posts were people’s favorites to read it seemed. Clients asked me about my giving back. I then went to Haiti and fell in love with it. I blogged my journey and photos because that is the only way I could make sense of the world. Three different organizations asked to use the pictures from that trip, making me realize I love capturing life and the world, not just weddings. I sat on a rooftop in Haiti and realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t pretend that life goes back to normal when I get off the plane. So we started praying and dreaming as a family. What does giving back mean to us? How does it uniquely work in our life? We made the decision to move to Haiti and work with World Wide Village there. We are selling it all and getting on the plane in about 120 days to move there. It’s a perfect mix of missions and photography that I have no doubt came to be because of the interwoven story of God doing his thing and me being willing to give back.
So enough about my story, lets talk about yours. You have a unique story to live out in your life and your business. You have a way to give back, to network with heart and grow your business. How can you incorporate giving back? What makes your heart sing? How can it work for you within your business structure? Where do you start? These are the questions we are going to answer next time as we dive into what steps to take specific to you and your journey…stay tuned!