We mentioned this week on Twitter that a video featuring Sasha Leahovcenco, one of Help-Portrait’s prolific volunteer photographers, and his Help-Portrait trip to Chukotka, Russia (“Help-Portrait. End of the Earth“), was chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick. In it he shows the a behind the scenes look at his team’s journey beginning at Anadyr (capital of Chukotka) and into the very deep Tundra where no one lives except small tribal groups of reindeer herders. He called it a life-changing experience. (Read our interview with him.)
Sasha wasn’t finished. This year he traveled to Nigeria where he took Help-Portrait to every school, clinic and orphanage his team visited while creating a documentary for a missions group.
Every time I do Help-Portrait projects I always learn something new. Something new about myself, people and approach to photography. Here are some things I learned on my trip to Nigeria.
• Ask people to smile. It doesn’t matter how old or how young they are. They look better with the smile on their face.
• Do your best. You never know, you might be photographing the future president.
Treat everyone equally, and do your best to deliver the best photograph you can deliver. You never know who is standing in front of your camera, so treat those people as if you are photographing the president of your country.
• Show that you care. Smile. Smile a lot. Learn how to say “smile” and “hi” in the language/culture you are in. Hug them. Twice. A lot of times. Especially when you are photographing orphans, all they need is someone who would show that he/she cares and happy to see them. Make sure you send that message.
• Remember It’s NOT about you. It’s about the people in your photo. Make sure they are your #1 priority. Sometimes as photographers we can stress out about our lighting not being perfect, or the person in front of the camera not standing or not looking the way you want them to look.
• Don’t wait to be asked. Ask to photograph. Be the first to come and ask people to photograph them. You are there to serve them, and not vise versa. Don’t wait for people – especially you never met before to ask you for photo. If you see someone seeing or watching nearby – go and invite to get a photo.
• Throw all those things aside and focus on the people in front of your camera. Approach those people with love and great respect. Make sure they know it’s all about THEM, and not YOU and your photography.
Yet probably the most important lesson/reminder I took from this trip and would like to share is something we very often neglect – To be thankful.
Sasha has created a video tutorial of how he runs Help-Portrait events internationally. This is a must-see!