What the heck are you really doing with your photography?

That's a question I ask myself almost daily as I navigate through life, trying to find some deeper "meaning". It's an elusive goal, for me anyway, and I am increasingly drawn to finding ways to make the world a little better via the gifts that I do have. I think I'm fairly skilled at photography and therefore it's a perfect tool for me to share. I've realized that I get frustrated by a feeling of helplessness when I allow myself to really ingest and attempt to comprehend all the NEED in this world. My only consolation is to remind myself that we can't single-handedly change the world, but we can contribute to change.

There are so many great organizations and charities out there committed to positive change in the world and they almost all need great photography to help them get the message out. I recently went to Cambodia, with World Relief, to help them gather media on some of the great, community based programs they have implemented there. We also covered a heavier subject - that of human trafficking. We heard some incredible stories - many difficult to comprehend, or even stomach. We also met some incredible people who have committed their lives to helping the young girls trapped in the world of trafficking and prostitution. 

We setup a reproduction of a scene using descriptions and testimony from victims. An actress was used for these images to protect the identity of the actual victim.We setup a reproduction of a scene using descriptions and testimony from victims. An actress was used for these images to protect the identity of the actual victim.

If you have a desire to see, hear, feel, and understand what Justice is really all about. If you have the slightest desire to contribute to the cause of promoting justice, then you might really benefit from attending the Justice Conference in Bend, OR on February 11 & 12. 

Since we are also in Bend, I am hosting a dinner gathering for creative professionals so we can all find more and better ways we can use our creative talents to better our lives and the lives of those around us. My good friend, Benjamin Edwards, and I will be sharing images and experiences from our past projects and will open the table to great, creative discussion. I hope you'll attend the Justice Conference, and our intimate gathering. Please watch the brief video e-vite below!

Do you know one of these people?

If so, it's urgent that you contact them immediately and give them a real or virtual hug. They donated their time this past Sunday to help with our annual Family Photos in the Park day in Bend, OR. Some gave of their photography talents, others lent a hand as assistants and coordinators. The day was amazing - beautiful weather, colorful leaves falling from the noble trees. We photographed 260 families between 10am-3pm and I certainly couldn't have done it without all of their time and talents. It was a complete volunteer effort created to give families in need a beautiful holiday portrait - something with incredible lasting value.

We've been doing this project for 10 years now and it gets bigger and better every year. If you are a photographer, and want to start something like this in your area, we'll be happy to share with you our experience and forms we use to organize the event.

 

Every year I'm touched by the families that come for their portraits - it's poignant in ways that are quite different from my normal portrait photography work. These families are incredibly thankful for their gift and I realize that for many of them this is also a first time experience. One family brought us some jars of home-made strawberry jam from their garden! Early in the day, I had one of the most heart warming experiences I've ever had there. A young girl came with her mom. She appeared to be very shy and hid her face from us as we tried to photograph her. I put down the camera and started to talk to her and she turned and looked at me. Then, with arms outstretched, she walked to me and gave me the biggest, longest hug I've ever had! She wouldn't let go…and I didn't want her to. After that, she joined her mom and we got some wonderful images of them together.

The gift that keeps on giving!

One of our setups in the park. The fall leaves were wonderful!

And…my wonderful volunteers!! Find them. Hug them. Thank them for me.

 

I'm often asked which photographers inspire ME...

And I think the interviewers always expect to hear the names of famous photographers and prominent speakers in the "rock star" world of photographers. In fact, I admire many of them. They are extremely talented, hard working, and generous. However, I have to say, that the one photographer that really INSPIRES me most is my precious friend, Ben Edwards. Not only is Ben's work poignant, introspective, and beautiful - but he is passionate about using photography to better the world. Many photographers say this, but Ben lives it. Quietly. Powerfully. He doesn't seek media exposure and personal gain, he just does it because he cares. He just returned from another trip to Africa, which included the Congo - one of the most dangerous places on earth right now. Take a look at his images and stories on his blog and you'll understand the importance of what he's doing. My words can't begin to do it justice.

Benjamin Edwards blog 

Ben's blog