Somalia Suffers from Severe Drought

In this UN photo, a Somali woman hands her severely malnourished child to a medical officer of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), an active regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations. Somalia is affected by a severe drought that has ravaged large swaths of the Horn of Africa, leaving an estimated 11 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

Here are some ways you can help:

Led by the Somali community, the Neighbors Initiative is a relief effort in partnership with the American Refugee Committee. Somalis are not waiting for handouts; they are leading the relief efforts on the front lines and abroad, working toward a better future for Somalia.

  • Donate to the Neighbors Initiative.
  • If you have Groupon, you can give to the Neighbors Initiative when you Groupon with 4REAL Deal. 4REAL will match the 2.5 percent of your Groupons that go to the initiative.
  • Text donations to the UN World Food Programme. In the U.S., text AID to 27722 to donate $10. In Canada, text RELIEF to 45678 to donate $5.
  • Add your voice to the One campaign to urge governments to take action on immediate and long-term solutions.
  • Support relief organizations.
  • Keep up-to-date on Twitter at #HornOfAfrica.

Click here to see an interactive map showing the drought in the Horn of Africa.

Josh Thome is a creator of the TV series “4REAL,” which features young leaders around the world addressing some of the most critical issues of our time. Josh, who’s also an Explorer with National Geographic, invites the Help-Portrait community to join 4REAL, Bono, K’naan and thousands of others in supporting the Neighbors Initiative.

Posted on Aug 25, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

More than 27,000 photos buried or blown away in the Joplin tornado now sit in a church room where volunteers sift, sort and clean them. Angela Walters, a genealogist in Oklahoma, posts nearly 1,000 of them a week on her Facebook page – the Lost Photos of Joplin. Nearly 500 photos, spanning more than a century, have found their owners, according to the Huffington Post.

“When a disaster happens, as soon as you hear a family is safe, the next thing you always think about is photos,” Walters said. “They’re irreplaceable. We can go back to the time and place and people we don’t have in front of us anymore. They’re the record of our lives.”

After Walter began the Facebook page, she joined forces with another similar local project, and then First Baptist Church in Carthage stepped up, offering their facilities and volunteers.

Other personal items like DVDs and letters are being returned as well.

Judy Lowe and her son, Scott, donated about 65 photos they found on their rubble-filled street. “All this other stuff is just stuff,” she says. “It’s the memories that count – and the photos.”

Check out the Joplin group on the Help-Portrait Community site.

Posted on Aug 23, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments
Aug 22

Meet Rachel!

Rachel is working as our new project coordinator and we’re so happy to have her on board. She’s going to be helping us oversee our merchandise, video and website work, plus much more. She’s a photographer and newlywed living in Franklin, TN. Here’s a little more about her.

Rachel Moore

Who I am: Hi there! I’m Rachel Moore, a photographer/ newly-wed / recent grad.

Where I live: Franklin, TN

What I do: I’m a photographer who shoots portraits, weddings and musicians.

What I like: the outdoors (kayaking/hiking/parks) cooking, my husband’s band The Apache Relay, zumba, chocolate, sweet potatoes and french toast. But not all at the same time.

Where I network: blogs, pinterest and old-school facebook

What I’m most like in the morning: My hair is in a granny-bun on top of my head, dorky glasses, and coffee that I pre-set the night before to brew right before I awake.

Help her feel welcome by posting a comment below!


Posted on Aug 22, 2011  |  Category: H-P Organizers  |  4 Comments
  • Jeremy Cowart Jeremy Cowart

    So excited to have you on board Rachel!!
    Jeremy Cowart | 22/08/2011 6:07 PM

  • Kaneo Biggs Kaneo Biggs

    nice wedding work Rachel, can't wait for the next Help Portrait event!!
    Kaneo Biggs | 22/08/2011 6:13 PM

  • Shauna Shauna

    Hey there. Congratulations on this new opportunity. Hope you're still available to do a photo shoot for Blake in October!!!
    Shauna | 22/08/2011 8:39 PM

  • Mary Clark Mary Clark

    Hi Rachel - welcome! So excited to hear you're taking on this new gig with help portrait. I'm a photographer as well and just moved to Franklin with my hubby. Please let me know if there is any way I could help out with help portrait (locally or globally).
    Mary Clark | 25/08/2011 12:45 PM

I love the creativity here. Someone sent a package with a disposable camera on the outside and asked the postal workers to take a picture before they passed it on. The package traveled from Massachusetts to Hawaii. The recipient and sender share the resulting photos here on this blog. How fun!

What creative ways have you seen photography used?

Posted on Aug 21, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  1 Comment
  • Gladys C Gladys C

    so very creative!
    Gladys C | 26/08/2011 8:04 AM

Many of you no doubt are aware of the mobile app developer Jonathan Stark’s accidental “massive experiment in collective consumption and mobile currency” when he made his Starbucks card available to anyone. This post by Alex Goldmark from GOOD talks about how the national news story (in the U.S.) prompted more than 500 coffee drinkers to add (and spend) more than $8,000 through the card. Starbucks shut the operation down after tech entrepreneur Sam Odio hacked the card as an experiment of his own. Odio’s rationale was that the money would be better spent on a nonprofit organization like Save the Children, rather than going toward buying coffee for one another. (The card is currently for sale on eBay, and the top bid, which will be donated to Save the Children, is well above face value.)

“So predictably, the sharers went ballistic at the news that one man’s scheme had shut down the entire venture,” Goldmark wrote. “Odio apologized on his blog, saying he underestimated how invested people were in the project and how upset they might be when he threw a wrench in the plan.”

Stark was upset too, but sees a bigger purpose. He told GOOD: “If I had one goal it would be for more people to think like this and spawn more projects.”

And it has. At least three similar projects have been started, and Stark wrote on his site: “We’ve received hundreds of stories of people doing small things to brighten a stranger’s day: Paying for the next car at the drive through. Sharing a pick me up with someone who has had a rough time. Charging up a phone card and sharing it with strangers at the airport. The list goes on, and on, and on…”

Follow @jonathanscard and Facebook page for updates.

Posted on Aug 20, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

Daguerre_2It’s World Photography Day! According to, its origins go back to Aug. 19, 1839, when the French government announced the invention of the Daguerreotype, a photographic process developed by Louis Daguerre, as a gift “Free to the World.” Learn more about the history of photography at Wikipedia.

(Creative Commons photo: Detail of Boulevard du Temple by Louis-Jacques Mandé Daguerre, 1787 – 1851: a man who stood still getting his boots polished long enough to show.)

What are you taking photos of today?

Posted on Aug 19, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

This post by Seth Godin talks about the nature of giving, and how the intangible rewards earned from giving outweigh the investment. I think this sums up what we hear so often at Help-Portrait from volunteers and photographers who give their time and talent at the event each year. Here’s one example:

“Everyone has something to give, and there are many out there with needs that we can help meet. Events like this one teach us to smile, appreciate the little things, and remind us that to give is a fulfilling experience.” Nantena, Greeley, CO

Why do you volunteer with Help-Portrait?

Posted on Aug 18, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

April 2011, Ishinomaki, Japan. Miho is overlooking her neighborhood and the remains of the houses. A few weeks earlier, these were the streets and gardens where she played with friends. Photo by Kasper Nybo

Our friends at Halogen TV have a post up today featuring a panel of six humanitarian photographers discussing the role and evolution of the genre. Tony Cece, Gary S. Chapman, Rhys Harper, Douglas Klostermann, Bryan Watt and Kasper Nybo talk about recent innovations and challenges. They answer “How has humanitarian photography evolved over the last 25 years?” “How does humanitarian photography influence society?” and “What role does humanitarian photography play in furthering good causes?”

Here are a few highlights (read the full article here):

  • “I’ve learned that many of the people I encounter in Third World countries don’t want us to feel sorry for them.” -Tony CeCe
  • “It is not a good idea to volunteer for large organizations that have budgets in places for media.” -Gary S. Chapman
  • “I think photojournalism, even at the amateur or hobbyist level, played a huge role in the uprising earlier this year in Egypt.” -Rhys Harper
  • “A big evolution that I see is humanitarian photography now being referred to as an actual genre.” -Kasper Nybo
  • “Every humanitarian photographer, at one time or the other asks himself/herself, ‘Is my photography really making a difference?’” -Chapman
  • “Some Japanese tsunami victims said they felt as if ‘outsiders’ – the media – came and ‘stepped on their hearts.’” -Bryan Watt

What steps should photographers responding to needs take to ensure their work is helping, not hindering?

Posted on Aug 17, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

woods photo by cara davis

The current issue of Garden & Gun (Aug./Sept. 2011) includes a feature about Wendell Berry, a prolific American writer who was awarded the National Humanities Medal in March by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Berry, who has more than 50 books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction to his credit, is known for his connection to place – namely a farm in rural Kentucky where he lives and works, not many miles from where he was born. But Berry has traveled the world and influenced many in it over the years with his writing and ideas.

In the article, Berry, now 77, jokes with friends while bird watching about starting the “Slow Communication Movement,” in response to a culture of instant messaging and the “Society for Preservation of Tangibility” – a barb directed at society filled with digital avatars and electronic friends.

His witty take on the pitfalls of ever-advancing technology are rooted in a career known for its contributions to the subjects of conservation and land stewardship.

His writing studio features no electricity, but a large window that overlooks the river and allows natural light to flow in as he writes lines like this recent one from a recent poem:

It is a room as timely as the body
As frail, to shelter love’s eternal work,
Always unfinished, here at water’s edge,
The work of beauty, faith, and gratitude
Eternally alive in time.

The feature writer commented on Berry’s work: “In tumultuous and uncertain times, it is worth being reminded that these fine things – beauty, faith, gratitude – still lurk eternally beneath history’s dark veneer, and that an artist working alone in a room beside a river may catch a glimpse of them and render them into a lyric poem, a short story, or an essay.”

To that list I’d add “a photograph.”

Do you have spaces in your life that reconnect you to beauty, faith and gratitude?

Posted on Jul 28, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

eudora welty photographs

There’s a fantastic photo book published in 1993 featuring the work of Eudora Welty – mostly known for her fiction. (Her first published short story was “Death of a Traveling Salesman” in 1936.) Eudora Welty Photographs shows how she documented life in the South during the Great Depression.

The introduction of the book features an interview with Welty in her home in Jackson, Miss., in 1989 and serves as a retrospect of her career. There are some interesting insights when it comes to storytelling and photography:

Welty was a self-described “shy” person who took “daring” photographs. When asked what the circumstances surrounded the images she captured and published in her book One Time, One Place, she said: “I was never questioned, or avoided. There was no self-consciousness on either side. I just spoke to persons on the street and said, ‘Do you mind if I take this picture?’ And they didn’t care. There was no sense of violation of anything on either side. I don’t think it existed; I know it didn’t in my attitude, or in theirs. All of that unself-consciousness is gone now. There is no such relationship between a photographer and a subject possible any longer.”

When asked why, she explained, “Everybody is just so media-conscious. Maybe it’s television. Everybody thinks of pictures as publicity or – I don’t know. I wouldn’t be interested in doing such a book today, even if it were possible. Because it would assume a different motive and produce a different effect.”

(Keep in mind her comments were in 1989 – and sound like they could have been spoken today.)

Welty said she never posed people or imposed upon them with her photographs. She took a handful of shots and went on her way. “My pictures were made in sympathy, not exploitation. If I had felt that way, I would not have taken the pictures.”

Many of her subjects had never had a picture taken of themselves, and had never owned one. This is what she said about those: “They had so little, an a photograph meant something. And they really were delighted. It didn’t matter that it showed them in their patched, torn clothes. They wanted the picture. They were delighted at the evidence of themselves here – a picture was something they could hold.” (emphasis added)

Welty said her images constituted a statement of reality. “It wasn’t needed for me to say, ‘Look what a bad thing.’ Or, ‘Look how these people are facing it, facing up to it, meeting it, hoping as well as enduring it.’”

The photos spoke for themselves.

“I wasn’t trying to say anything about myself in the pictures of people. I was trying to say everything about them, and my taking them was the medium. The photographs are saying what I saw. I was just the instrument, whatever you want to call it.”

Click here to see a slideshow of Welty’s photographs from The New York Times.

Posted on Jul 18, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments