Photography as a Gift

When I wrote the course Take a Break: Photography for Self-care, I began the lesson Photography as a Gift with a google search of the word generosity

I hoped to inspire our students to not only take photos for themselves but to give prints, cards, and photo books as gifts and to see their photography as an extension of their own generous spirits. I found a lot of links about being generous with money but didn’t find as much inspiration as I’d hoped.

I began with the assumption that anyone who would take such a course was inherently a generous and giving person. I was not disappointed. Our students shared both their photography with others and some lovely stories with us about how they had done the lesson assignment, which was to make a print, frame it, and give it to someone who wasn’t expecting a gift from them.

When preparing for this blog post, I expanded my search by being more explicit. I added the words spirit to generosity because we won’t be generous with our finances or with what we do if we aren’t generous with who we are.

I learned that being generous of spirit is an attitude that encompasses our entire lives, that this attitude doesn’t depend on our circumstances or on how we are treated.

We can be struggling and yet generous. True generosity is giving of ourselves when we are truly being ourselves.  Generous people are REAL!  Generosity of spirit is the opposite of bitterness. When you give, you rarely complain. 

If this intrigues you, there’s more here — thanks to Dr. Dreyfus for nudging me to think even more about generosity!

Sometimes, as photographers, it’s easy to swing the other way.

We watermark our photos so no one steals them. We reverse google search to see if, in fact, someone has stolen our images. We hesitate to share a really great photo online. I’m not saying that the protection of intellectual property is inherently a bad practice. Kris Boorman’s Mount Fiji photo is a prime example of posting online gone wrong. See the story here

We worry that we aren’t pricing our work appropriately. Join any photography group on Facebook and eventually someone will ask “what should I be charging for…?”

But, that said, we have been given a gift ourselves, the gift of a creative spirit and with that gift we can bless others. And, there are many ways in which we can bless others.

In my community, each pre-Christmas season, the Help-Portrait photo shoot brings together photographers and those who would not be able to afford family photos. The event is advertised at food banks, social service agencies, disabilities services, and around the city and held at our local art centre, CASA.

With a little sleuthing, I discovered who was in charge and I contacted the director to see if I could stop by as an observer. Their 2014 video was inspiring!

If the video doesn’t show up for you, watch it on YouTube here.

Hairdressers, make-up artists, photo editors, photographers plus a printing and framing station set up by McBain Camera, all make this a great event. Participants left with a framed 8 x 10 print. On November 26 by invitation, I spent some time there, photographing the photographers. In the end, I signed up to volunteer next year.

How many photographers does it take to get a family to smile?


As we move into the Christmas season and, again, are thinking about giving, I encourage you to think not just about being generous with your material goods but about the generosity of your heart, spirit and vision.

Look through the photos you’ve taken this year

  • Are there any that would make backgrounds for inspirational Facebook posts?
  • Are there any that would be perfect for a card?  Craft stores sell packages of blank cards and double-sided tape.
  • Could any be printed and framed? Print options now include conventional printing and framing as well as printing on metal or canvas.

And…Is there somewhere in your community where you could give the gift of time and talent, camera in hand?

Printing your photography as a gift

If you follow Marlene’s blog posts, you know that she sends her photos out to be printed.

I’m the opposite. I prefer to own a photo printer. I tried living without one for most of a year and couldn’t do it.

In 2015, just before Christmas, I bought an Epson Artisan 1430 so I could spontaneously give photo gifts.

I pick up frames when I see them on sale, so always have a stash. Last Christmas season, I was invited to a friend’s home. So with my new printer I could quickly print, frame and wrap a lovely photo of their recently deceased family dog —  a dog I also had grieved.

photography gift dog

The choice of how to give is yours, but in the spirit of generosity, I challenge you to give from your creative heart this Christmas.

“To be generous with our images is to acknowledge that they have value — to us and to others.”  Take a Break:  Photography for Self-Care.

By Ruth Bergen Braun


In my day job, I’m a professional counsellor in Lethbridge, Alberta. (See my professional website here I work with clients who have a variety of life struggles — depression, anxiety, relationship issues, bereavement, trauma, and past and/or current abuse.

I have loved photography since my darkroom days as a teenager — long before we ever imagined the fun of digital photography. I joke that I’m so old that I took my first photography course B.C. — before computers. I have taken and enjoyed Marlene’s courses, both the Ruzuku format and Marlene’s content. I often recommend her website and online courses to people who want to learn more about both the art and technology of digital photography. I also have recommended her courses as “a gift to yourself” and thus, the idea for our course on using photography as self-care was born.

Follow my photography journey on my Facebook page.

Ruth’s blog posts: