The Visual Advocate Blog

Free people find true success


Over the last couple of weeks I have been rolling a lot of different ideas around in my head, some photography related but mostly just about life in general. One thing I have been thinking about lately is how attractive “free” people are. Let me explain what I mean.

As I get older, I am realizing more and more how attractive people are who are not impressed with who they are, where they have been, what they have seen or accomplished or who they know. These people have dealt with and are dealing with their own fears, guilt and shame (the very things that keep us from being free people), which frees them up to be focused on others.

Now I am nowhere near perfect (and if you don’t believe me just ask my wife!), and I have definitely been THAT guy who talked about himself for like 15 minutes straight or tried to sell myself just a little too much, but I so want to be this kind of free person.

The other night I had the opportunity to talk to about 80 college students at the University of Georgia about which peoples and cultures in the world are in the greatest holistic need and how they can use their skills, passions and degrees to bless them. After the talk ended, I was in conversations with students for over an hour, just talking about what they are passionate about and how they can use what they love to change the world. It was so fun to not really share anything about me, but just to give these students permission to dream big!

So how does this relate to photography, and more specifically humanitarian and cultural photography? Well in my opinion, it has everything to do with our craft as photographers. If we are not becoming truly free people, we will not be able to really serve our clients and the peoples and cultures on whose behalf we create these image and stories. Instead, we will still be trying to make a name for ourselves, which will affect the way we do business and the way we approach our subjects and stories.

Now this doesn’t mean we give our work away free or volunteer for assignments for free, though it may me mean that in some circumstances. We as creatives absolutely need to be masters of our craft, which includes being smart and determined business people. Instead, what I think it means, is that we will be free to esteem our clients and the peoples and cultures we are photography higher than ourselves in every way possible, and if in nothing else, at least in our attitudes!

I could go on but I won’t. In closing, I just wanted to share some resources that have influenced my thinking as of late. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on what I have written here. In fact, we can help each other become people who are more free by sharing our stories.

Here are the resources:


Author: The Visual Advocate

Joe Murray, The Visual Advocate, is a Humanitarian and Cultural photographer based in Decatur, Georgia. Joe began his photographic career as an adventure and landscape photographer, but a month-long trip to India in 2009 deeply impacted him and proved to be a turning point in his life and photographic vision. Today, Joe is dedicated to using his craft to create and share compelling images and stories of the lives of the peoples and cultures of the world. While Joe loves and appreciates all the peoples and cultures of the world, he has a particular vision, passion and love for India and South Asia. As both an experienced photographer, public speaker, recruiter and advocate, Joe's goal as a visual artist is not simply to create awareness, but to move people to use their lives and resources to be a blessing to the world's most poor, abused, displaced, stereotyped and overlooked peoples.

2 thoughts on “Free people find true success

  1. Love, love, love the way you are thinking on this issue. I have to constantly remind myself of this though…I am not the center of the universe.

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