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

A Vote Against Marginalization

A Vote Against Marginalization

By advocating against government policies that provide assistance to people we have marginalized, pushing for charitable solutions to the issues faced by people we have marginalized, and electing politicians that actively marginalize the political voice of millions of people, we attempt to gain control over their quality of life and try to conform it to what we think they need, even though we cannot individually or even collectively as Christians cover these financial costs, nor do we have any intention to do so.

Words and Implications – Episode 1: With Great Power…

Words and Implications – Episode 1: With Great Power…

How we describe people slowly becomes our understanding of who they are. That understanding impacts how we interact with them. The language we use to discuss social issues shapes the tone and nature of those discussions and informs our beliefs about the nature of those social issues and the people involved.

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...

The Bassist

The Bassist

A few weeks ago I traveled to Hong Kong to film a project for some friends. While I was there I spent a bit of time filming Nick Banks practicing the base. It really didn't fit in the other project we were working on so I created a short film with the footage titled,...

Feeding Fascination

Feeding Fascination

I want to pursue a fascination with the lives and culture of the people I meet. How do we show value to people who are different from us. How do we engage with others in a way that is valuing to them and their way of seeing the world. How can we eliminate the instinct...

Elements of Faith – Wat Phra That Doi Kham –

Elements of Faith – Wat Phra That Doi Kham –

I spent a couple hours yesterday exploring a local Wat and trying to transfer my prefered style of photography to video. I wanted to accentuate the human element, to wonder in the beauty of gesture, and nuance of movement. This is the result of that experiment

The Privilege of Escape

The Privilege of Escape

How do we deal with situations that we can escape and get away from but there are people who cannot leave and are trapped? (This article was written in Nov, 2017) I have been mentally struggling lately with situations going on in the world that I cannot change and...

Fear Lingers but Hope Sells

Fear Lingers but Hope Sells

With all the crazy things going on in the world recently I have been thinking about how we relate to two conflicting ideas, hope and fear. How we relate to them personally and how we should (or shouldn’t) be using them in humanitarian and nonprofit marketing....

Fascination is Foundational to Connection

Fascination is Foundational to Connection

Fascination is Foundational to Connection If there is one thing that seems to drive photographers it is fascination. For some photographers it is a fascination with beautiful landscapes and nature, for others the beauty of architecture or fashion, or even the ability...

Ownership vs Passivity – The Language We Use to Frame Our Lives

Ownership vs Passivity – The Language We Use to Frame Our Lives

Ownership vs Passivity - The Language We Use to Frame Our Lives The use and effect of language in our lives has become a point of interest and reflection for me over the last year. It started as an interest in how to help humanitarian organizations communicate more...

A Quick Trip to Pai, Thailand.

A Quick Trip to Pai, Thailand.

For christmas this week we took a quick trip to Pai, Thailand. It was the first chance we've had to get away and explore as a family in over a year. We visited the "Grand Canyon of Pai" the first day and the Holy Bamboo Bridge and a small waterfall the second day. I...

Documentary Photography’s Obsession with Dehumanizing

Documentary Photography’s Obsession with Dehumanizing

Documentary photography's obsession with dehumanizing. I am beginning to have a problem with the documentary photography world in general. Not with every documentary photographer, but with the established standards of what is good documentary photography. My problem...

Permission

Permission

I am currently in the process of reading Linch Pin by Seth Godin. As I’ve been reading, one idea keeps hitting me between the eyes. We spend our entire lives learning to and being trained to wait for permission to act. In school we need permission to go to the...

M&M’s and Nonprofit Marketing

M&M’s and Nonprofit Marketing

Taking the M&M’s out of Nonprofit marketing As a humanitarian photographer, filmmaker and marketer I spend a decent amount of time engaging with nonprofit organizations in their social media and website spaces. Over the last couple of years I have seen a marketing...

The Celebration of Insignificant Self Denial – Our Hero Complex

The Celebration of Insignificant Self Denial – Our Hero Complex

“For less than the price of a cup of coffee each week” or “for less than a dollar a day”, you can… “ Sponsor a child", "Help someone start a business", "Give someone clean water", "change the world", "Be a hero …"! Can we stop for a minute and think about this? Can I...

What I Value at 40 – A Brief Manifesto

What I Value at 40 – A Brief Manifesto

I have often struggled and to be honest, I still do at many times, with a lack of outwardly visible success in my work. I don’t have a lot of followers, very few people will read this post. I have not won any awards nor have I been invited to photograph any stories...

The Uncomfortable Space of Unsolvable Problems

The Uncomfortable Space of Unsolvable Problems

I read an article recently that got me thinking how we engage with unsolvable problems as a western culture. The article by Kainoa Little can be found here: https://petapixel.com/2017/07/05/no-one-buy-photos-free-mosul-2017/. I would encourage you to take a minute and...

Is There a Minimum Effective Level of Compassion?

Is There a Minimum Effective Level of Compassion?

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about the way we relate to charitable acts and what compels us to act in compassionate ways. I asked a question on my Facebook page a few weeks ago and the response to that and to my previous article on comfort and...

Batman or Alfred – Choosing Our Nonprofit Persona

Batman or Alfred – Choosing Our Nonprofit Persona

When we interact with advertising produced by companies trying to sell us something we rarely, if ever, take the time to consider if the company that is selling the product is worthy to receive the money. We are only thinking about the satisfaction, pleasure, or...

This is Why I Travel – A Craving for Authentic Experiences

This is Why I Travel – A Craving for Authentic Experiences

I recently had the privilege of traveling to Kathmandu, Nepal on assignment. After my assignment was finished I stayed for a couple of extra days to experience Kathmandu for myself. As I wandered the famous sites in and around Kathmandu I realized something about why...

Why Comfort is a Brutal Master

Why Comfort is a Brutal Master

I’ve been realizing lately how much I my actions are affected by an instinctual desire for comfort and convenience. Our desire for comfort is a brutal master that offers no release from its bondage. Our pursuit of convenience is continually driving us to purchase and...

Intentional Consumption

Intentional Consumption

I have a confession to make,  I have a habit of scrolling social media and honestly even websites, articles and stories, and only engaging with the headlines. My eyes quickly take in the photos and my brain reads the title and headings, I might even skim the...

This is How the NFL Captured My Attention with a Simple Video

This is How the NFL Captured My Attention with a Simple Video

This week a video popped up in my Facebook feed that truly captured my attention. It was a funny, engaging and authentic and easily relatable experience. The characters felt real and in the end I felt like I had shared an experience with them. I could immediately...

This is Why We Forget That We Also Have Freedom of Speech.

This is Why We Forget That We Also Have Freedom of Speech.

I was laying in bed last night thinking about the last few weeks and all of the drama that has engulfed the US surrounding the ideas of white supremacy and freedom of speech. As I lay there thinking about it, I began to realize that the problem is not the fact that...