In the age of sophisticated advertising, visual storytelling injects a dose of realism to a brand, one that its patrons can instantly relate to. Professionally made, non-fabricated and artful stills & videos make brand stories compelling by appealing to their sense of compassion and the need to act on it.
What strikes you about a photograph or moves you about a video more than any other is often a certain quirk or a specific perspective of the photographer that reflects his storytelling vision. In this article I list out some of my favourite humanitarian photographers who speak to us through their work. They draw motivation from the stories of people & communities that are forgotten, overlooked and on the fringes of the society but who still live with hope-filled eyes and a smile on their faces.
“Bestowing Dignity in Photography”- Esther Havens
Esther Havens, popular humanitarian photographer from USA has breathed soul into new age photography through her works. She has worked on various social awareness campaigns with organizations like charity: water, TOMS, Warby Parker, and Malaria No More. Esther gains inspiration from the story of her subjects, about how people live and emerge stronger from their unforgiving surroundings. She has traveled to over 50 countries over Asia, Africa and Middle East in the last 10 years—and “will keep going until everyone has access to education, clean drinking water, and a job to provide for their families”.
“Everyone has a story” – Gary S Chapman
Mentor to Esther Havens and a humanitarian photographer to the bone, Gary Chapman believes that everyone has a story and those need to be told. Gary photographs for NGOs and non-profits helping them build their visual communication targeted at donors and awareness campaigns. Having worked in more than 65 countries over the last 15 years, for brands like GEO, Time, Life, National Geographic Traveler, Gary specializes in areas of relief and disaster, helping organizations communicate their vision and work through photography.
“If You Are Not Trusting Yourself, You Can’t Be Creative” – Mo Scarpelli
Mo a.k.a Maureen Scarpelli, is a photojournalist based in Brooklyn. Through her stories, Mo jabs a finger at obscure notions and perspectives surrounding global issues demanding answers and showcasing burning issues that need attention. Having previously worked for nonprofits like Bread for the World, charity: water, Future Fortified, Aeras, and the New York Charter School Center, Mo along with Alexandria Bombach are now scooping awards for their documentary film, Frame by Frame – a film based on 4 Afghani photojournalists.
“They enjoy being photographed by a friend and not by a complete stranger who doesn’t even care enough to learn their name and hear their story.” – Mia Baker
Mia Baker found purpose when Saving Orphans Worldwide, approached her to photograph orphanages around the world. Now the head field photographer at SOW, she believes that stories are not made only by photographing people in apathy. It is created by knowing them and connecting with them. These people don’t want to be objectified and seen with pity. They want be given a chance at life. Her photographs and videos are warm, real, kind are hopeful.
“They don’t really want to get married, they want to see if there is any alternative way of life” – Poulomi Basu
Poulomi Basu is an Indian documentary photographer from Kolkata, whose subjects are based in Asia. Poulomi captures stories of people who are battling dire situations by falling prey to social evils caused by lack of basic amenities like clean water or a life of exile for child widows in Nepal. She is associated with Water Aid, VII Photo Agency Mentor Program and is the co-founder and director of Just Another Photo Festival.
Who’s your favourite?