I spent last Friday and Saturday in the company of a group of photographers, videographers, media professionals and staff from NGO’s at a conference in Portland discussing the topic of collaborating for impact. Collaborating for Cause 2013 provided me with a humbling experience listening to some incredibly talented photographers who have attached their work to some critical causes. Seeing such strong visual images connected to compelling human and environmental stories was extremely powerful and now I can see why NGO’s are keen to collaborate with image makers. I guess this is what Time Magazine has been doing for decades, telling stories through the written word and visuals.
A couple of photographers really stood out for me:
Robert Semeniuk has photographed peoples from all over the world and documented their lives and hardships. His work on Trachoma, an eye disease, in Ethiopia is very moving.
Matt Black lives in the Central Valley of California where 70% of the USA’s fresh produce is grown. He has documented the lives of migrant workers in the area and traced some back to their roots in Mexico. It is hard to believe the scenes he documents are from the USA, including some from my own doorstep in Hillsboro, Oregon. This fact hit me hard. I don’t have to travel halfway around the world to find people living in a different world to us, I just need to open my to those around us.
In addition to reviews the conference tackled some tough questions in this area. Is it sufficient to raise awareness? The consensus was no, the pictures have to have impact and create action to generate a new outcome. This was heartening and yet humbling; not only are the people incredibly powerful photographers, they make change happen. For example the inspirational fellow coach and photographer I met from Seattle who has raised over $10,000 to create a new mill in Ethiopia to provide fulfilling and safe work for the women of an hard hit area. The list goes on and on.
I haven’t figured out what I am going to do with this experience but it is clear my future path involves creating new possibilities for people less fortunate than myself. I am lucky to be traveling to Namibia in less than two weeks and I’m sure that will spark more inspiration but I realize I don’t have to look far from where I am sitting at home writing this.
Whatever it turns out to be, writing about it here is the first step towards a declaration of intent. Lastly, a big call out to Blue Earth who organize the event every year.
Namibia!! Georgio and I are dying to go to Namibia. You’re killing me, Andy. That is so great, please give me a ring and tell me all about it.
Wonderful!!! Love it. Have a great trip, Andy. I look forward to seeing the images when you return. My very best to you.
Thanks Laura, I look forward to meeting up when I get back!