Two and a half years ago, a virtual stranger — a virtual stranger then — sent me her well-loved Nikon F65 and a drawing by her son, because she was working to pay things forward, and she thought I could use an upgrade from my point-and-click. I did use it. I shot dozens of rolls of films, more than a hundred, between the end of January and November that year, and I made a ton of mistakes shooting film, and I took a few images I’m still really proud of. I didn’t learn as much as I probably could have, but I learned that taking pictures drove me. I will forever be grateful to that stranger, who’s now one of my closest friends, for that chance.
Michelle, in addition to paying it forward with a camera in 2008, pays it forward every fall, with her In Focus Photography Award. An award of $1000 to an emerging undergraduate student photographer in the U.S. or Canada — and the chance to have your work seen by a panel of professional and semi-pro photographer judges. So if you’re a photography student, and you’re interested, get on over to the website, request an application, and get to putting together your submissions and applying. And if you apply, and are selected for the award? Pay it forward, sometime. Because it’s worth doing that.