Tag Archives: NGO Marketing
I have always had a love-hate relationship with campaigners outside coffee shops, grocery stores, and book stores. While I appreciate their passion for the social issues of our day, I almost always find their method of expressing that passion frustrating as it often seeks an audience by interruption.
As I sit at Peet’s Coffee in Long Beach this afternoon and watch the Save the Children campaigners outside (pictured above), I am struck by how often our humanitarian efforts involve interruption rather than invitation. I watch as 90% of those who pass by them, walk on, trying to ignore them.
I know these campaigners mean well, but I can also see how many of those passing them by feel bad about ignoring them, as I think given the right situation they would express a great deal of concern about the children in Congo, Darfur, and Myanmar. My guess is that they care about the cause of Save the Children, but just don’t appreciate the campaigners’ method of interruption for advocacy.
If we work on being an invitation, which takes more thoughtfulness and effort, I believe our humanitarian efforts will go much further. If people are invited into being the change, and into personally owning the responsibility for injustice, we will see a greater change in the issues of current social justice.
I want to be an invitation to people to do something that helps change the world. That is the goal of my photography; it is not to make people feel bad about what is going on in the world, but rather to invite them to take an active role in changing it. I want to invite people to see the world differently and see that they can do something more than just write a check. When we are invited into something we tend to give more generously, advocate more strongly, and learn to be an invitation ourselves.
I read the Special Report in last week’s edition of The Economist and found it to be a highly interesting article. I have been thinking a lot recently on how to make a living with my artistic ventures through photography. My passion is to capture moments of beauty in the most hopeless of places, the world over. Here is a short excerpt of the report that was very encouraging to read and apply to what I want to do and build:
A Multicultural Future
“In the short term the art market will follow the world economy. But what will it look like in the long term? Artists throughout history have created work in response to their environment. Many are known primarily for their travels: think of Paul Gauguin, the Scottish Colourists, the artists who went on the Grand Tour. Travel used to be exotic; now it is commonplace. In a globalised environment it is possible to be a world-class artist anywhere on the planet, and many of the most exciting artists will be working from places that previously were not even on the art map. That will start a fresh wave of contemporary art. Collectors follow artists, and the supply of art shapes taste. But the artists have to be there, working, in the first place. A few decades hence America will still be richer than China, and far, far richer than Africa. But for every collector who continues to buy evolving European and American art, an increasing number will turn to art from other parts of the world.
That shift will take time, but it is on its way. If there is a single sale over the past year that symbolises the new globalisation in the buying and selling of art, it was Sotheby’s contemporary-art auction in London on October 16th. The cover lot, “Afro Apparition” (see above), a painting of a stylised black couple kissing, was created by Chris Ofili, a Briton of Nigerian origin who now lives in Trinidad. It was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2003. Fatima Maleki, a London-based Iranian who has been a regular donor to Britain’s Tate, walked out smiling from the auction, having bid nearly 40% above the top estimate to get the painting. In such a multiple melding of cultures lies the future.”
Excerpt taken from October 28th edition of The Economist Newspaper, A Special Report on the Art Market, p. 16
Permission is important when taking someone’s photo. While I wouldn’t say that you need to ask for it every time you take someone’s picture (I definitely don’t always go by this rule), I have found that when I ask for and am given someone’s permission to take their photo, there tends to be an expressed warmth or vulnerability that could have otherwise been impossible to capture.
The most powerful amongst my photos tend to be “permission photos.” Asking for permission wasn’t the easiest in Congo and it typically entailed first pointing to my camera and then to them (mainly because I can speak neither French nor Swahili). About half of the people I wanted to take photos of in Congo did not grant me the permission to do so.
The photos that I really love from my time in Congo involved some sort of permission. It can be tempting to pull out the telephoto lens, especially when you are traveling, and snap photos of someone when they aren’t looking. While there is an occasional time for this, I find that if you build a relationship with your subject and earn their trust, the results can be much more spectacular. Relationship and trust with a photo subject are priceless…
Now for a few “Permission Photos”…