Thoughts and insights about humanitarian photography, filmmaking, and non-profit communications, with the occasional collection of travel images and musings about places I visit.

Supremacy and Ethics in Nonprofit Fundraising

Supremacy and Ethics in Nonprofit Fundraising

At a societal level celebrating the donor as a hero promotes a problematic world view, where people from developed nations or ‘superior’ belief systems are positioned as potential saviors to countries, cultures, and individuals in need. Centering the donor in the role of hero plays to the ego and perceived supremacy of the donor and reinforces the idea that their beliefs, values, and culture are superior to those in the areas the organization is working in or ministering to.

The Myth of Self Redemption

The Myth of Self Redemption

Self-redemption is a deep, immersive belief that, through our own efforts, skills, and fortitude we were able to save ourselves, and that in saving ourselves we have become superior to those who have not been able to. The factors that contribute to success are complex and cannot be calculated. If we are honest with ourselves, none of us can look back and say that we alone are the architects and instruments of our success. No matter our level of success we were each aided in ways that we can never fully know by people around us, government programs, and by factors out of our control. As time passes and we are further from the events that shaped our success, it is easy to forget or overlook the things that have helped us get to the point where we are. Layering an over-inflated sense of self-reliance on a system of racism can place a further burden on people of color who are affected by the injustices of the system.

Ending Christian Oppression

Ending Christian Oppression

As the United States deals with the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and protests advocating for reform are being violently suppressed, a significant movement to bring real change is emerging and that brings me hope. I've been reflecting on my life and my...

Ethics of Status in Nonprofit Communications

Ethics of Status in Nonprofit Communications

It makes logical sense that this would also be true for nonprofit marketing. Charitable donations can definitely be a status symbol, both in terms of the size of the gift or just the privilege we display when we have the means to make a charitable gift. But how should we think about and evaluate status in marketing and promoting NGO’s and development work?

6 Realities of Humanitarian Photography and Storytelling

6 Realities of Humanitarian Photography and Storytelling

I began this journey into the world of humanitarian photography, storytelling and communications almost 6 years ago. As I was reflecting on the process that got me to this point, I realized there are somethings that I wish I had known before I started. Things that would have helped me grow and improve faster, changed how I approached the work, and help me manage expectations about the career.

A Little Bit of Nature from Doi Pui – Chiang Mai, Thailand

A Little Bit of Nature from Doi Pui – Chiang Mai, Thailand

I don’t do a lot of nature photography, mostly because it is not my line of work. However, I do enjoy it as a way to practice creativity and to appreciate the beauty of nature. So I thought I’d share a few images from a hike I did with the kids last year that I found sitting on my hard drive.

Ethical Representation in Humanitarian Photography

Ethical Representation in Humanitarian Photography

We should not be “documenting” people, instead we need to be representing them with the images we make. If we are representing someone we are speaking on their behalf with their best interests in mind. Ethical representation means increasing their standing in the world and improving how people view them with the images we make. The subjects of our photos deserve more than a photo that says this is a person that was assisted by this NGO. They deserve the opportunity to look the world in the eye and we as a global community need to be confronted with their beauty and their humanity. We need the opportunity to look into their eyes and answer their unspoken demand for respect, that we hold them up as equals, worthy of our admiration.

Ferdinand

Ferdinand

Ferdinand Some people just have a presence about them, a way with people. I met Ferdinand last month on a project in Bangladesh. He was brought in to be the translator for the video project we were working on and help us conduct interviews and translate the...

New Life School, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

New Life School, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Earlier this year we created a new website for New Life School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. As part of the project I spent a couple days at their school taking photographs of the school, students and teachers. New Life School provides an excellent education to over 300...

Chiang Mai Loi Krathong Festival 2019

Chiang Mai Loi Krathong Festival 2019

A mother and daughter make wishes as they prepare to launch their Krathong during the Loi Krathong festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand on November 11, 2019 Every year Thailand celebrates Loi Krathong, a festival where small floating baskets, called Krathongs, are floated...

Why I Have a No Hug Rule and You Should Too!

Why I Have a No Hug Rule and You Should Too!

I have a no hug rule, for all my assignment photography, filmmaking and consulting work. It’s not something that I would have thought I needed, a few years ago, but as I work with more and more organizations supporting vulnerable children I have realized that it is...

The Privilege of Photography

The Privilege of Photography

I want to take a minute to talk about the privilege of photography and what it means for how I work. I just returned from two and a half weeks on the road working on three different projects, two in Cambodia and one in the Philippines. I went to Cambodia to meet with...

What We Say Matters – Presidential Edition

What We Say Matters – Presidential Edition

President Trump recently referred to asylum seekers as animals. Can we talk about that statement for a minute? Can I provide some context to what that statement means? I think we often forget that: We pack so many chickens (animals) in a cage that they can barely...

Orussey Market – Short Film

Orussey Market – Short Film

I had a few spare hours in between assignments, while I was in Phnom Penh last week and was able to film this. Orussey Market is one of my favorite places in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It is a market that serves the local population of Phnom Penh. If you show up early it...

How to be an Ethical Humanitarian Photographer

How to be an Ethical Humanitarian Photographer

According to Websters the definition of a humanitarian is this: A person promoting human welfare and social reform. So a reasonable extension of that definition to the title of humanitarian photographer might look something like this. A humanitarian photographer is...

Extended moments from Xining, China

Extended moments from Xining, China

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend a week on assignment in Xining, China. During my downtime I was able to spend sometime wandering the city and a national park. I really enjoy exploring a place and discovering the beauty that presents itself when you...

How to Make Your Fascination Contagious –  for Photographers

How to Make Your Fascination Contagious – for Photographers

Build Character In an earlier series of articles I talked about the idea that our fascination with the people and situations we photograph is what makes the ideas we are sharing contageous. While it seems like our enthusiasm for our work should be enough to make...

The Search for Meaning

The Search for Meaning

If you want more meaningful photographs, you first have to know what is meaningful to you. You cannot achieve meaningful work by chasing someone else's interests. I last year I had the opportunity to work on an assignment in Nepal. I spent 3 days filming a video...