Your life's accomplishments may be more ephemeral than you think.

I've got a great job. It's fascinating, challenging, enlightening. Best of all, it's a wonderful creative outlet.

Each issue, I and our staff of editors and freelance writers begin with a broad topic to explore--like remodeling, custom homes, production housing. Then, we head out to research and report. As we pursue stories, what started as vague and loose becomes more distinct and solid.

Here's where the creativity kicks in. On a sturdy framework of facts, we apply our art--our talent and skill as writers and editors. Our first job is to communicate clearly, but once that's accomplished, we're free to grasp for as much beauty in the language as our ability allows.

It sounds a bit like your job, doesn't it?

Preserving Beauty

We each have something solid and beautiful to show for our effort. I have a handsome magazine to tuck in my bookshelf; you have something even more substantial and meaningful: you have a house.

But wait a minute. You don't really have that house, do you? Your clients do. The best you can hope for when you're done with your creative enterprise is to secure visitation rights. As time passes, your grasp on that house grows weaker. The clients sell, strangers move in, they remodel without your help, or--heaven forbid--they tear the whole place down. Maybe the worst thing that happens is your clients don't properly maintain the house. With each passing year, it looks a little less beautiful.

How can you hold on to your work? How can you preserve it for yourself, your family, your prospective clients, your biographer? You can photograph it, that's how. Professionally, thoroughly, quickly. The potential benefits to you and your career are enormous. With those photos, you can build a Web site, contact a magazine, put together a brochure or a lecture, and enter awards programs.

Undiscovered Talent

Of course, I have a selfish motive here. I want to see your work in the pages of our magazine and I want you to enter our awards competitions. We've launched a new one this year. We have some beautiful projects among our winners, but I know there are other impressive projects out there, undocumented, slipping out of everyone's grasp.

I understand professional photography is very expensive. But there are ways you can defray those costs. Divide the fees among your builder, interior designer, landscape architect, lighting designer, and other important members of the creative team. Approach manufacturers whose products you speced for contributions. Go to the big-ticket folks first--the window, roofing, flooring companies. Some manufacturer associations may help, too.

At the very least, take your camera and shoot several rolls of film. Send those "scouting shots" with a floor plan and a project description to the editors of magazines you admire. Many will split the cost of photography or foot the bill entirely, depending on their budgets. All it takes is a little enterprise and ingenuity.

Don't let your best work slip away.