As some may know, this summer we were a part of a humanitarian photography project in Nicaragua. I had listened to one of my photography idols at a workshop Dawn Shields speak about giving back to the photography industry and yourself by taking on personal projects for growth not for money. She then showed images from her time in Nicaragua and mentioned she would be putting together a group to travel there in the summer and to speak with her during the workshop if interested. I knew at that moment I had to be a part of this- and I may or may not have stalked her the remainder of the workshop to be chosen to accompany her on the trip. Despite my irrational fear of bugs, and Roger’s cautious nature, we knew we were meant to go, but it wasn’t until coming home that we realized why.
While we were there we spent time in a poverty stricken village, House of Hope which is a refuge for prostitutes and sex traffickers, a disabled orphanage, and the city trash dump in which people live and salvage their food. This was a very heavy trip and although grim, it was something as photographers we yearned to do. From the first click of the shutter, we found our calling.
It is difficult to put into words what we experienced while there, but if it could be summed up in one word, it would have to be hope. These individuals living without running water, or the basic necessities that you and I are privileged enough to take for granted every day – have a joy, a spirit, a sense of community that we first worlders can only dream of. Expecting to leave saddened by the oppression an deplorable conditions these people face on a daily basis, we left with a new perspective and inspired.
Most of the time, a new found perspective fades. You return to your normal life and the excitement of a new passion wears off, however we became more passionate as the days went on and we felt empowered to take action. We had an idea of how we could give back and while we gave every reason in the book why it seemed a bit unreasonable, it actually was one of the most sensible decisions to make.
We decided to start a non for profit corporation that would travel to third world countries with simple to use point and shoot cameras, and teach individuals basic camera skills and allow them the opportunity to capture their lives. While people like you and I take photos of our dinner, most of these people have never even owned a image of themselves. Photography is proof of life. It transcends obstacles of language and literacy and provides these people a voice. Their lives matter, and their strength and joys should be shared.
After several days in their community, we would then bring the cameras and images home and share them with you – giving you the opportunity to purchase their art with 100% of the proceeds going back into their community to provide lifeline needs. Giving you the opportunity to change someone’s life, and to let them in turn change yours.
When we began talking about our experiences in Nicaragua and moving forward, a common phrase that was brought up over and over was what we were doing for “the big picture”, so when the decision was made to move forward with the non for profit, we couldn’t think of a more fitting name.
The Big Picture Project isn’t just an romantic dream of changing the world. It’s a realistic intention to simply do our part. We have been blessed with so many opportunities and gifts in life, down to the fact that we have a home with a roof and running water. As you count your blessings this holiday, be sure to remember those less fortunate and consider what you could do to make a difference. If you are so kind as to consider that fact, please see what we are trying to accomplish and take a look at the big picture! www.thebigpicproject.org
We obviously want you to actively check this blog and continue to cheer us – and the beautiful people we photograph on, but we hope that you will also keep up with The Big Picture, and those beautiful people we photograph as well!! This is going to be a wonderfully fulfilling adventure, and we would love to bring you along!!!