The Photographer with Compassion – humanitarian
Blog , January 12, 2017
You’re a what photographer? Humanitarian? Is that like a religion?
While most are now posting their 2016 best wedding photography pics (which I love seeing – so many special moments captured well) I’m going at this slightly differently. This is more about something else – what I think is best described as the humanitarian photography. Photography with compassion.
This photography year has been a little different for me. It has had the most amazing ups and a great variety of work. I am now happy with the weddings I shoot. I have met some absolutely fantastic people who hopefully I have become friends with. However there were a few little bumps. The bumps sometimes feel like road blocks. They pop back into your head when you least want them to. You learn from the bumps though. It has been a year though where it has abundantly clear where my focus now lies and what a enjoy most – Wedding Photography, and Documentary or Humanitarian Photography.
I’ve only come across the term humanitarian photographer once until recently. Though in the year or two since many have added it to their title. Wedding and Humanitarian Photography or Humanitarian & Documentary Photographer. It started with this guy below.
One of the current photographers I admire most, that I listen to and follow most is David DuChemin. His work takes him around the world, photographing little known tribes in Africa to grizzly bears in Canada. He is a humanitarian photography working for both human and animal charities. His work is both beautiful and stunning and fuelled by the most incredible drive to take better photos. His manifesto is something I wanted to instantly model in my photography. I was fortunate to catch up with him last summer (over a single malt) and hear about his passion for photography in real life. It was inspiring. Bringing purpose to a passion. Exuding compassion.
I watched a video recently talking about this desire everyone has to ‘make an impact’ with their lives. To be seen. Noticed. Awed at. Not everyone can. However if you put yourself out there and use a skill or just give a little bit of time with compassion it might make a difference in someone else’s life. You might not be famous. You might not even get thanked.
How it got me.
A few years back I made my first trip to Africa with Stand By Me (then Kids Alive). Somewhere in the back of my mind was this idea of helping myself to a few quality pictures. How I thought that with my little starter DSLR and a couple of cheap lenses I don’t know. At that time I didn’t realise how much it would change me and how I could help them. While my photos were not amazing they were vivid enough to see what the reality of life was like. A photographers eye looked for the sad but beautiful things. The trip brought out a sense that there must be something more I can do with photography other than for my own selfish gratification and money making.
And so there is this idea of being a Humanitarian Photographer. A photographer with purpose and compassion. Going to the places that others don’t know about or are reluctant to travel too. To give a glimpse into the lives of others who have nothing or very little. My hope too is that other photographers take some time to go to Africa, Asia or South America. To use their skills to tell stories. That ability used both locally and abroad for good has the most amazing potential.
The following photos are my reminders of what I have been fortunate to see. Photographers because they are concentrating through an eyepiece are instantly transported to that place the picture was taken. Only they remember, the sights, sounds and smells. Something their photos cant always convey to others. Some of these reminders are shown below. I remember the little stories. Some of the things I have seen cant be unseen. I have shed a few tears (which for anyone who knows me is just short of miraculous) about the injustice of the things I have seen. The difference maybe nothing more than the places we were fortunate enough to be born.
Jengana and Nairobi, Kenya
For a while I have been following a saying, a list, some sort of motivator. I don’t even know where I saw it or if I made it up.
Do the things you think you ought to as much as you can, for as long as you can, while you are able.
Not because I am the best. Just because I can.
The photos below have been taken over the last few years. Starting with the photo that changed my ideas about everything. His name is Million. I am fortunate enough to be able to sponsor him. We have seen each other a few times since and just last Sunday I got a message through someone else asking me how I was doing. Amazing.
I will be following this up with a 5 part story on my trip last summer with Jengana to Nairobi, Kenya.
Every single frame here has a story which I’m always happy to tell you about but only if you are interested.