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 the leadership of New Life School to learn about what they are doing, so I can help them develop a new brand for their school that we will use to create a new website for the school. I also spent some time filming for the Cambodia team of an international organization.

In the Philippines, I spent a week filming interviews and creating photography for an organization that works with children in conflict zones who are child soldiers or who are at risk of being conscripted to be child soldiers.

As I was traveling home on Wednesday I realized something that I wanted to share with you.

In all of these projects there is a common thread in terms of how I approach my time on the ground and how I interact with the people I am photographing and filming. 

That common thread is this:

I want the people I photograph and film to walk way from that experience feeling more beautiful, more confident and more powerful than they were before. I want it to be an empowering, confidence building experience. I want them to leave thinking, “Wow, he really thinks I’m interesting, he is really interested I who I am and believes I have value!”

In Cambodia, the New Life School provides vulnerable children in Phnom Penh the opportunity to access a quality of education that is beyond the reach of most children in Cambodia. 

The organization in the Philippines works to empower vulnerable children to be peacemakers and leaders of transformation in their communities trapped in cycles of violence. 

In both cases, the children and communities they are working with are seen by the greater society around them to have little perceivable value. They are forgotten, dismissed and ignored because of their lack of material wealth or measurable success. 

My goal, when I get the privilege of photographing people is to treat it as such. To believe and to show them that it is a privilege to photograph them and to tell a small fraction of their story. It is my goal to show them through my interaction with them and my posture while in their presence that I value them and consider it a privilege to be granted the opportunity to photograph or film them.

My goal with the images I make is that they would strip away and eliminate the surrounding and circumstances that cause people to overlook their value, that I would be able capture the potential of who they are and everything they can be come in a way that is captivating to everyone that sees those images. I also want them to be able to see those images and see the best version of themselves that they hope they can be and realize that it is possible, that they are valuable and capable of becoming what they dream of being. 

There is a magic and a satisfaction in being able give that gift of confidence, of belief in a person, the gift that another person that doesn’t even know you sees that you have potential and believes that you can fulfill it if you are just given the opportunity. 

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