Author: give photos project

Giving Photos and Houses in Vietnam

 

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Brian Wolowicz

Although Brian’s passion for photography started at a young age, it wasn’t until college that his hobby took a more serious turn. He loved his college photo class elective so much he ended up pursuing a minor in photography and  eventually went on to earn a BFA in Visual Communications. Brian now works as a Creative Director designing apps for Fortune 500 companies and continues to pursue photography projects on the side. Growing up, his parents instilled in him the value of giving to charity and he now dedicates his free time to photographing for Habitat for Humanity. GivePhotos gave Brian instant film to take with him on his recent trip to Vietnam with Habitat for Humanity and we talked to him about his experiences. You can see Brian’s photos on Instagram @hellobdub or on his Flickr page.

When did you start giving photos? 

I started giving away photos in June 2013 by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. It’s not too difficult to get people to come out and swing a hammer, but it is very difficult for most charities to get high quality images. After a call to the local affiliate about what I could offer, I began photographing all the houses being built, the volunteers, sponsors groups, homeowners, families, dedications, and gave away all the photos for free to Habitat, the families, and volunteers. I started experimenting with giving small instant prints away to kids during dedications last year and they loved them! Seeing the little prints come to life in front of their eyes was like magic. Kids nowadays are used to seeing the images on the back of a camera or cell phone, but most have never seen an instant print. 30313789891_4bfb17c151_k

In October 2016, I had the opportunity to go to Vietnam with Habitat for Humanity and spend a week building homes for those in need. It was one of the most challenging, exciting, fun, heartwarming, and rewarding things I have ever done. I am already planning to do more international trips with them!

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Habitat for Humanity built these homes in the Phu Tho region of Vietnam which is about 50 miles outside Hanoi.

What motivated you to do it?

Growing up, my family was often involved with charities and giving back. My brothers and I were in Boy Scouts, active in church functions, and volunteered for different things around town. Fast forward a few years after graduating college and living in the “real” adult world and my weekdays became filled with long hours working, and weekends once spent giving back, were replaced with either more work or catching up after a long week. My time was packed but I had a yearning to get back to that place of giving again, I just didn’t know how.

Soon thereafter, I went through some very difficult and trying times. I didn’t know if I could make it out of the depression I felt myself sinking into, but I knew I had to get out of the house. I had to get back to doing things for others again, to finding a new purpose in life, and getting back to being me.

I started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. At first I didn’t want to be a distraction on the job site, so I became a fly on the wall. “Keep working, I’m not here,” I would tell everyone. I simply wanted to take my photos and leave. But as I continued to show up each weekend, the house leaders would remember me, say hi, and we’d chat for a bit. Soon, that expanded to the volunteers, the homeowners, and the kids in the neighborhood.

Before I knew it, I was excited to wake up early on a weekend to go to a job site. That soon led me to create a public Flickr account and to give the photos away to everyone. I found out that for many of the families, the photos I took of them in front of their new house were the first photos they had ever gotten of the family all together. Knowing how much the families cherish my photos has kept me going over the years.

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What equipment do you use and why? 

House leaders like to joke that I have a bigger tool belt than they do! My main gear are Nikon D700 and D750 cameras, with 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 lenses. I have to be very careful about where I am on the job site, so the zoom lenses are very important to getting my shots. I am constantly covered in dirt, saw dust, mud, climbing up and down ladders, banging into studs or heavy metal things, which means the gear has to be pro level and weather sealed to last. I have a Lowepro deluxe technical belt with several different pouches for swapping lenses, carrying my cell phone, notebook, wallet, keys, odds and ends, and a water bottle. I usually park my truck and walk between job sites, so I need everything with me rather than trying to use a camera bag that might walk off when I am not looking.

When I travel, I use a Fuji XT-1 with the 18–55 f2,8-4 and 10-24 f4 lenses, and the Fuji Instax printer. I still need to get a telephoto for that set up.

Since I also build on some of the job sites, I have my own hard hat that I reverse to be able to use with my camera. I also have a mix of other safety gear like glasses and gloves, strong work boots and mud boots, and a big stack of business cards with the URL to my flickr account.

 

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Bong and his wife are local farmers in Phu Tho building a new road around their field. After tending their crops in the morning, they use old farming tools to prepare a base for the concrete.

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Bong’s wife didn’t want to be in the photo with him but after a little teasing gave in.

Can you share one memorable story with us about your experience sharing photos? 

When we showed up for the first build day in Vietnam, the neighborhood kids didn’t know what to make of us. They’d run and hide every time we’d come walking down the path to the job site. Most of the people that lived in that community had never ventured very far, let alone outside of the country. They have no TV and they are lucky to have old cell phones without internet. They had simply never seen people so physically big!

Over the next few days, we’d catch them watching us as we built and would say hi and wave. They’d giggle and dart away, but soon they came out to meet us. We must not be that bad, we’re building their neighbor a new house! When I took their photo for the first time, they didn’t know what to make of it. Some laughed and ran, others were fascinated by it. Then I made a small Fuji instant print and their eyes went wide and their smiles reached from ear to ear as they saw the picture develop. After that, the walls came tumbling down. We’d play games together on our breaks, they’d teach us Vietnamese phrases and we’d teach them English ones, and they’d show us parts of their village. They even wanted to take OUR photo and even more photos together with us! It was a good thing we were pretty quick builders since our breaks seemed to get longer and longer each time! And it all started from a smile and wave, and a simple little instant print.

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Brian said, “These adorable kids had never seen a printed picture of themselves before, so I gave them this one! I had to sneak this pic because every time they’d see the camera they’d laugh and dart away behind a tree.”

Do you have any suggestions for people who would like to give photos?

Always bring more film than you think you’ll need, especially for groups of kids! Everyone will want their own print, so you’ll quickly go through a lot. Kids are usually more willing to get their photo taken than adults, but always ask permission from their parents first! Usually once one person gets their photo made and others see it, you won’t have any problems. In fact, the kids may run home to get their siblings and other family members to have even more photos made together.

Sometimes when you need to move along, or get back to building in my case, you need to just finish out the pack of film and tell them you’ve run out so you have to stop for the day.  You’ll get “awwwww!” and puppy dog eyes from the kids, but if you are staying in the area, tell them you can come back again tomorrow with more film. But, if you do that, don’t let them see you pull another pack from your bag around the corner to photograph someone else!

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‘Obrigado’ off the Coast of Central Africa

Artur Cabral 

Although Artur has a degree in artur-cabral-1 architecture, he left that world to pursue his true passion: photography. He has been a professional photographer for the past 6 years with his work appearing in high-end magazines and publications around the world. In 2014 Artur traveled to the island nation of  São Tomé and Príncipe, a former Portuguese colony, located off the coast of Central Africa. With the help of a company sponsorship, he started a project to give photos mainly to Island elders called ‘Obrigado’ (‘Thank You’ in Portuguese). Artur’s striking large format prints made quite an impression in a country where 66% of the people live below the poverty line.

Follow Artur on Instagram @arturcabral and find more of his stunning work at www.arturcabral.com

 

When did you start giving photos?

Every time I go back to a place where I’ve been before, I try to print some of the photos I took to give back to people. It started a few years ago in Mozambique, but it’s been mainly in the last two years on my trips to São Tomé and Príncipe (Islands in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Central Africa) where I went several times for work.

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By the end of 2014 I started project OBRIGADO (Thank You) in Príncipe Island with a sponsorship from HBD (a South African company which is in the tourism business but with great concern and cooperation with local communities). With the help of an anthropologist, I met with many different communities and talked to “young people from the past” as we fondly called them. Those moments of lively conversation were key to getting people to smile. Sometimes, their smiles were hidden by the fatigue of a difficult life. But it was nothing that a good and cherished conversation couldn’t overcome. I returned in February 2015 to continue the project, with an exhibition in the main square of St. Antonio, the capitol of the island country. Large format prints were placed so everyone could see and read about these amazing elderly people who helped make Príncipe. There were about 90 people portrayed and honored in this project.

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Obrigado Exhibit in St. Antonio (capitol of Sao Tome and Principe)

Meanwhile, parallel to the exhibition, we offered the people a printed photo so they could keep it like a souvenir or pass it on to the next generation.

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What motivated you to do it?

A print is something so simple and basic for all of us that sometimes we don’t realize what it can do for someone that never had one. The joy that a simple portrait brings to people when you give it is amazing, and that simple act can make a big impact in somebody else’s life.

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What equipment do you use and why?

I normally travel with my Canon 5D Mark III, a 24-70 f2.8 II and the 70-200 f2.8 IS. Recently I bought a mirrorless Sony a7 rII, to try something different with a smaller camera I can be less intrusive and cause less discomfort to the people I photograph.

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Can you share one memorable story with us about your experience sharing photos?

In Príncipe it was fantastic to see people’s reactions to the Obrigado Exhibit — they wanted to see the photos up close, read the stories, recognize the faces. Children and adults, everyone wanted to come, some to find themselves, others to see their friends, others just with natural curiosity to learn something new. There were some school children who came as part of a field trip and wrote essays about the exhibit and, more importantly, about the people in the photos!

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But if I had to pick the most profound moment that I had giving photos, I have to choose one in Mozambique where a boy didn’t recognize himself in the picture and told me in all innocence, “That boy has a toy like mine”.

Do you have any suggestions for people who would like to give photos?

Just do it! It doesn’t matter if you are giving back a small polaroid instant picture or a big print, just do it! The joy that it brings to the person receiving it is priceless!

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Father/Daughter photos in Bangladesh and India!

Kaavya Rajesh and Rajesh Ramakrishnan

Rajesh and his daughter Kaavya were inspired to give away photos after reading about GivePhotos online. Knowing that girls are often undervalued in the Indian sub-continent, they decided to focus onkaavya-and-rajesh_cropped fathers and daughters and create a campaign called ‘My Daughter Is Precious’. They not only give away instant prints to families in low income areas, they also talk to them about the importance of girls’ education. Kaavya, who is only in 10th grade, answered our questions below about the project. You can follow Rajesh on Instagram @rajesh_photo and learn more about Kaavya’s project on her Facebook page.

 

 

When did you start giving away photos?

We started this project in March of 2016 and gave out instant photos to  fathers and their daughters in lower socioeconomic areas. We have so far done this in Dhaka, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi.

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What motivated you to do it?

I was inspired by a documentary called ‘Girl Rising’ where I learned that 65 million girls don’t attend school across the world! This really upset me and motivated me to do something about it. I spoke to my parents and we came up with this idea.

The inspiration for the instant pictures came from an article my mother found about GivePhotos online in DAILYGOOD. It was about a lady who gave instant prints to children in underprivileged areas in India as many cannot afford one.

My father and I combined our passion for photography with our belief that fathers can play a big role in their daughters’ lives and came up with this project.

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What equipment do you use and why?

We usually use a Cannon 5D Mark III to take the digital photo and we use a Fujifilm Instax camera to print the instant pictures we give to the families. 

Can you share one memorable story with us about your experience sharing photos?

Every time we give the families the pictures, the joy on their faces is heartwarming. The people volunteer to show us around so that we can take more photographs and spread the positivity and the message.

A particularly memorable person we met was Machekantan who is a fisherman who lives in Oorurkuppam, the fisherman’s colony in Chennai. He is a friendly and forward looking man, bringing up four girls. His daughter Gayathri, his granddaughter Abhinaya and his nieces; Nandini and Renukadevi. Their parents, his brother and sister-in-law, passed away and Machekantan has been looking after them since then. His wife works as a maid. Abhinaya studies in class four and Renukadevi is in class ten, they hope to continue studying until they complete college and get good jobs. Nandini finished Class 10 two years ago, but decided to stop studying. She now regrets it immensely. She hopes to complete her education some day. Gayathri is in her second year of college, she’s a business student studying BBA at the Janaki MGR college. She fears that she won’t be able to complete the course because it’s very expensive.

“The fees are very high and my parents are working very hard to pay them, but if they can’t I’ll have to drop out,” she said sadly. They have taken loans from the local moneylender at high rates of interest to fund her education. If Gayathri completes her graduation, she will be first one to have a degree in her family.

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Machekantan and his family, 2016

 

Do you have any suggestions for people who would like to give photos?

I think it is a great gift to give because a photo can capture a moment, a relationship, and preserve it forever and enable them to cherish it. We should all do this for people who dont have the resources to own a photo.

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Read more about Kaavya’s campaign

A father and daughter are raising money for a cause, one picture at a time

Making Connections in Benin!

Photographer Kevin Perry (@ventureforthphoto) gave this man an instant photograph when he was traveling through Taneka, Benin in 2015. He said that while many tourists would take photos of him no one had ever given him a print. Yesterday, when we posted this photo on our Instagram, a woman in France who had traveled to Benin back in 2008 recognized him. She was doing a volunteer exchange and the photo she took with him ended up in a newspaper. She always regretted not giving him a print of the photo. Seeing this picture pop up on her Instagram feed of this same man smiling and looking at the print Kevin gave him filled her with so much joy.

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Here is the photo that Caroline took with this same man back in 2008.

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Caroline writes,

I went to Benin in 2008 to be part of a volunteer exchange between my city Evreux in France and Djougou in Benin. We were a group of young people participating to a project of reforestation with some youth from Benin. During that trip we went to Taneka to visit the village. And I had the pleasure to seat next to this great man. Someone from the group took a picture of us and it was used in a newspaper article about our journey.

Today when I saw your picture of him with his great smile, I was so happy and feel so thankful to sort of have some news from him through your picture. Mine is on the desk of my dad since 8 years now so I never forget that special moment of my life and it was a real pleasure to see him this morning completely randomly through Instagram. I thought how many chances were that on your picture it could have one of the person I met during my travels. Love those coincidences!

You can follow Caroline on Instagram or check out her website

Giving Photos in the Yucatán Peninsula

Rick Jacksonrick-jackson

During a 2013 mission trip to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, Rick noticed the excitement among villagers when he showed them the photos he was taking. Realizing that most of them had no photos of themselves or family members, Rick started ‘In Our Image’ as a way to provide free photo prints to those who have little to no access to photos of themselves or their loved ones. Follow Rick on Instagram at In_Our_Image

When did you start giving away photos?

In the fall of 2013, I made my second trip to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Knowing that I wanted to be able to provide photos at whatever location we might be, I wanted to have photo printers that were small enough for travel and could run off battery power. I purchased two Canon Selphy CP900 printers, along with the batteries and printing supplies. Using my Canon 7D and an older Canon Rebel xsi, I took and printed out about 200 photos on that trip. Since that time I have made several more trips back the Yucatán Peninsula, along with trips to Kenya and India. It always amazes me to see how open and excited people are when they realize that they can have a free photo of themselves, especially the ones who have never had a photo of themselves.

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What motivated you to do it?

Wanting to connect with people and offer them something of value. Giving away photo prints has allowed me to reach beyond language barriers, cultural differences, and uncertainties that people have toward strangers.

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What equipment do you use and why?

I started out using SD cards and the equipment that I mentioned earlier. I still use a lot of the same equipment, but now with direct wifi connections and Bluetooth connections I am able to use other equipment such as iPhones and iPads. I still use the Canon Selphy printers, although I have added a newer model to my equipment lineup. I have looked into other setups, but I really like the 4×6 prints and the quality of the Canon Selphy. I did try a full size printer that could do 8×10, but the prints took too long and the cost was not manageable.

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Can you share one memorable story with us about your experience sharing photos?

While there are so many memorable stories I would love to share, there are three that I feel really show how powerful giving out photo prints can be. First one is just general overall. It’s when I realized that so many people wanted a full body photo instead of the portraiture style that I was taking. I realized that the photo wasn’t just a nice image for them to have, it was also a documentation of that stage of their life. (Especially with children.) The second memorable story was when I was able to provide photo prints of a new born baby to the parents. They had no photos of the baby and the mother was very sick after the birth. Even through the sickness and late hour, the family was so eager for those photos. The last one was being able to provide photo prints to individuals and families in a Leper Colony in India. Once again, people were amazed at something most people never think much of — a photo themselves with loved ones.

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Do you have any suggestions for people who would like to give photos?

Find the best way to do it and make it about them and not yourself. If you are the only one who is available to give the photos, then do what you can and don’t feel you have to keep up with anyone else. If others are already giving photos away, team up with them. We make a stronger impact by working together.

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Can you use any help with how you give photos?

I am always looking for ways to increase my ability to give photos away. I always appreciate those who would like to travel with me and help take photos or run equipment. As well as anyone who is willing to contribute toward supply and equipment cost.

GivePhotos goes to Vietnam!

Brian Wolowicz is currently in Vietnam working on building homes for Habitat for Humanity. He’s also giving away photos in a very impoverished area about 50 miles outside Hanoi called Phu Tho where people do not have any photographic prints. Here are a few of his images so far. We’ll be posting more on our Instagram feed in the weeks to come. Find Brian @hellobdub

 

 

Meet one of our photographers

image1 KEVIN PERRY 

Kevin started giving away photos a decade ago on his extensive travels around the world. Although not a photographer by profession, Kevin’s portraits beautifully capture the people he meets on his journeys. We’re excited to see who Kevin will share photos with on his next trip to Guinea Bissau. Follow Kevin on Instagram at Ventureforthphoto.

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When did you start giving away photos?

It’s been a hope all the years I’ve been traveling. A decade ago I did a trek in Ethiopia with a community based organization and I was able to send more than a hundred photos back to them by mail. The stories I heard about people’s responses to the photos just motivated me more to try and figure out a mobile printing option. When Fuji came out with their Instax printer a couple of years ago, I knew it was the perfect solution. I’ve taken it on a couple of long trips now — Bangladesh and West Africa. 

What motivated you to do it?

It just seemed like such a natural exchange for the privilege of taking someone’s photo. It makes the whole experience mutually pleasurable and I often part company with folks with my face hurting from grinning so hard. 

What equipment do you use and why?

Any camera with wifi makes the process easy. The image goes from camera to phone to printer in less than a minute. 

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Can you share one memorable story with us about your experience sharing photos?

There have been many, but one in particular was an older woman in Benin who nodded eagerly when I asked if she wanted a picture. She then promptly disappeared into her house for more than ten minutes. Just when I was really wondering where she had gone, she emerged in her best clothes and headscarf, and told me that she wanted a photo for her family to have after she died. She currently didn’t have one. It was quite a poignant moment with her son when I handed her the print. I did my best to make it a good shot!

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Do you have any suggestions for people who would like to give photos?

 Just that the expense is well worth it for the degree that it will enrich your travel experience and open doors for you.