Darkroom Gallery: Multiples Exhibit

One of my photos created while on assignment with Hamlin Fistula Hospital was selected by juror William Albert Allard to be in Darkroom Gallery’s “Multiples” show. The exhibit opens September 14 in Essex Junction, Vermont.

These women each had been treated for fistula and were living in Hamlin’s rehabilitation center, Desta Mender, where they learned new skills such as reading, writing and math after their surgeries were completed.

Many women are ostracized by their villages when they develop a fistula, and often they must find new ways of supporting themselves. Undaunted by their struggles, they form a bond while residing at the hospital and help each other heal emotionally. New confidence is found, and together they help each other find new paths to walk, unbridled by the injury they suffered.

Fistulas can develop many ways, but most often it occurs due to obstructed labor. Dr. Catherine Hamlin saw the great need for prevention efforts and developed a midwifery college where young village girls are trained in midwifery and other maternal health care actions in Addis Ababa after which they return to their villages to provide much needed care in their remote home areas.

It has been an honor to stand in front of these brave women, the fistula survivors and the new midwives, and realize how devoted they are to their own healing and to the healing of others.

 

Desta Mender graduates 2015

Desta Mender graduates 2015

Prints For Prints: Afar, Ethiopia

Earlier this year while I was on assignment for an NGO based in Mekele, Ethiopia, I had the unique opportunity of visiting the incredible landscape of the Danakil Depression along with my colleague, Dardinelle Troen, and two employees of Mekele University.

Danakil Depression

For us, it was an epiphany to stumble upon this unbelievable and yet relatively undiscovered corner of the world. Everything was unexpected: the place, it’s unique geology and landscape, the people and their unique way of life. One highlight was our encounter with a mile-long camel caravan led by salt miners on their way to harvest salt from the vast salt pan we found ourselves driving across. I imagined these men traversing the same well-worn paths traveled historically for countless centuries dating back to the pharaohs.

Camels

While visiting this area, and as an excuse for making a personal connection, we stopped to take a few instant print photos of the men as they passed by, gifting them the print in exchange for a moment of interaction. Their excitement and appreciation reinforced enthusiasm for one of my personal projects, Prints For Prints.

Danakil Salt Workers

In 2013, I founded Prints For Prints, a volunteer organization which brings photographers and equipment to remote corners of the world to set up portable photo studios. A family photograph is a precious thing to many of us, and especially so to people who live in remote areas. Often in areas so far away, many do not have a record of their children, their elders or even themselves. We feel strongly that a photographic print is a wonderful way for loved ones to remember each other, whether they have passed from this life or are thousands of miles away carrying salt to Somalia. Our purpose is to create a physical keepsake that documents and preserves a moment in time to be shared, remembered and passed to future generations.

Moroccan hands

As we’ve learned time and again in our journeys, contained within the portrait process is an opportunity to make a personal connection. In the course of capturing a picture, we shared an intimate moment exchanging glimpses into each other’s hearts and inner psyches. Warmth, humor, vulnerability, and sorrow all expressed in an instant.

This aspect was reinforced again during our brief time in the Danakil. It was a bit intimidating when we approached the salt miners in their caravan; they seemed rather intense and brooding. Even after overcoming the language barrier and agreeing to have their pictures taken, they still each gave a purposeful grimace when they stood for their portraits. It only struck us after a few moments that it was partly swagger as we watched each person being cajoled by his traveling mate as they each shared their small mementos with each other. This gesture opened the gates of wishes, and we were asked by many others to make more prints.

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In every venture of Prints For Prints, we always find ourselves drawing a crowd. Many times we find ourselves surrounded by burgeoning local photographers seeking to advance their skills. We make the most of these opportunities by making space in our process providing educational mentoring, either one-on-one with individuals or through partnerships with local schools, and we include students in our field photographs. We hope this opportunity to pass on our photographic expertise to a local community will sow the seeds for a developing photographic industry, as the passion for the craft is very apparent.

Prints For Prints Ethiopia

While experiencing this remote region and its natural beauty and seeing the salt miners’ joy upon receiving their instant print, we realized that there is a larger potential for storytelling here. Up until now, Prints For Prints’ primary focus has been connecting photographers to their subjects and leaving behind high-quality prints and the intellectual tools and inspiration for a continued photographic industry.

But there is more substantial potential as a vehicle for authentic exploration and storytelling of the area and bringing these stories to a larger audience. In a world struggling with a rise in polarization and nationalism, there is a need for a greater inclusiveness that celebrates our diversity and perhaps redefines our preconceptions of “others.” Making an intimate human connection in the same way a photographer connects to their subject in the process of making a portrait is a way to cross cultural divides.

Prints For Prints Ethiopia

We envision the Prints For Prints expedition as a vehicle for an authentic exploration of a locale by getting to know its people on a more intimate level while finding and documenting the anecdotes and rich stories that inform their life experiences along with those “1000 words” imbued in their portrait. Creating cohesive documentation in beautiful images, stories, and video can then be re-purposed in a variety of platforms: print, publications and social media to bring awareness, tourism, and commerce to the area.

Photographing each subject against a portable backdrop, we intend to create portraits as they hold artifacts they bring with them on their nomadic journey.

Prints For Prints Ethiopia

We are seeking support via project sponsorship or monetary coverage/discounts of expenses. In exchange, we will be promoting the experience and story, in traditional publications and social media platforms. The resulting photographic assets, videos and written stories will be available for sponsors to use for their marketing and promotions, as applicable.

Through our work with organizations such as Travel Oregon, we have repeatedly seen how this process results in success in reaching a targeted, diverse audience. Travel Oregon depends heavily on image based promotions to draw in tourism from around the state and region each year.

For further information about our experiences with Prints For Prints, please visit our website at www.printsforprints.com. We welcome any questions regarding our process, past experiences and budgets for upcoming project work.

Should funding or service donations be secured, our next proposed trip will be to return to the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia in February of 2018 to give those salt workers the photo prints they asked for, as well as some much desired sunglasses that have been collected by people living in a small assisted living home in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Seaside Stichers

(Seaside Stichers, photo by Mary Luther, Activities Coordinator)

 

If you would like to donate in-kind goods, airline miles, accommodations, transportation, translation services or financial support, please contact us by sending us an email or donating directly on our Prints For Prints donation page.

We appreciate any level of support!

Prints For Prints Ethiopia

You can see more images from this location in the Afar region of Ethiopia in my stock image database here. This project will also extend my earlier Market Workers project, celebrating those behind the developing world culinary scenes who bring spice and other delectable tastes into our lives.

Thank you for considering any level of involvement and support!

The Market Workers Book

Mother Admiration

My photo, Mother Admiration, was juried by Tricia Hoffman into Lightbox Photographic Gallery’s upcoming “PDX 30” show. The opening will be April 9 in Astoria, Oregon.

This print will be on display and for sale as well as 29 more amazing prints from Portland photographers. Well worth the drive out there to this quirky and wonderful coastal place!

 

Mother Admiration

Dignity Period Imagery

I love to see how clients use my imagery. The Dignity Period website is full of images I captured, but the way they used this one just blows me away. Their whole focus is so inspiring!  The founder, Freweini Mebrahtu, will soon be in Portland to brainstorm an idea we both have….more to come on that!

Dignity Period will be hosting their annual gala on April 30 at the Missouri Botanical Garden, where they will auction ten of my prints from Ethiopia.

Dignity Period

“Where we began” series wins silver award in the 2014 Prix de la Photographie Competition

A few images from the “Where We Began” series were awarded a Silver medal in the 2014 Prix de la Photographie Competition in Paris, France this week.

I will be returning to the Afar region of Ethiopia this December to further develop the series.  It is my hope that these images will bring awareness to the critical needs of these nomadic tribes.

Please see the Barbara May Foundation regarding ways you can join this rally.  For large USA based donations, contact me for the 501C3 organization that directly funds this organization and its highly effective projects.

For more information, please refer to the Afar Pastoralist Development Association.

Afar Man At Hospital

Young Boys From Afar

Afar Nurse

Afar Man and Girls

Young Girls From Afar

 

Acosia Red Elk

Acosia Red Elk, color version, will be shown in the upcoming PDX Photo Month Exhibit, curated by Chris Bennett, from April 12 – May 6, 2014.

Come on out to one of my favorite cities in the world, Astoria, Oregon, to see the show and experience the chaos and quirkiness where the river meets the sea.

The artist reception will be from 6-9pm on April 12, 2014 at Lightbox Gallery.

Acosia Red Elk

Acosia at Lightbox Gallery, image by Michael Granger

Acosia at Lightbox Gallery, image by Michael Granger

Read, Set, Print! The First Prints For Prints Project

Our first Prints For Prints project was quite the ride!  Having only worked with the printers a few times before we left, we were a bit nervous about how we would perform in the field under extreme conditions. And we also did not know how we would work as a group, in Africa.

Soon after we arrived, we met up with my transportation and translator team in Ethiopia and they surprised us by taking us to see a football match between Ethiopia and Nigeria projected on a big screen which was set up in a beautiful park.  It was the perfect place for both groups to get to know each other in a spirited setting.

Dani and friends

The next morning, we got up early, grabbed our gear, and set out to go to Sheno, Ethiopia, the childhood home of our guide, Dani. His family let us set up the printers in their home so we could make photos and give prints to his extended family and to villagers around the area.  It did not take long to get the process up and running, and within a few minutes we cranked out our first print.

It was a beauty!

Sheno Ethiopia

I also brought prints that I had made before I left from images captured a year before and gave them to the family. It was an honor to spend time in this village and to see how much our prints were appreciated.

Sheno, Ethiopia

Once our process was humming along, we then branched out and made prints in various locations around Addis Ababa and in smaller villages outside of the city, some as far away as Lalibela and Arba Minch.

One other commitment of the Prints For Prints project is to train local students on various aspects of photography, in one-on-one sessions. We were fortunate to be able to coordinate this training with DESTA for Africa and the Nike Foundation’s Girl Hub projects.

Bill Purcell in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Steve in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Girl Hub Ambassadors in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

It was especially gratifying to watch local students in the workshop take over the printing, and make and donate prints to others that they met on the streets and in compounds.

Addis Ababa Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

We printed from any spot we could find, and even sometimes while on the go!

Bill Purcell in Ethiopia

We also loved giving our cameras to the subjects and letting them photograph us. Such fun!

Heather and Steve in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

We made prints in places we never imagined, such as on top floors of high rise construction sites, and also in hospitals in remote areas of the Afar region.

Hospital in Afar, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I also brought a print for each market worker I had photographed a year ago.  We laid the prints out on the ground, and people searched for those they saw in the prints.  My Ethiopian friend Habtamu and I gave each worker who arrived a print of themselves and they were really happy to receive it.

Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Market Workers, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Here are two of my finished portraits, created in two scenarios. The first image is Fatuma and her daughter Semed, right outside of their kitchen where they prepare food for a hospital in the Afar region.  The second image shows Raya in his place of employment, a construction site in the Bole region of Ethiopia.

Afar, EthiopiaAddis Ababa, Ethiopia

There is much to process about this first trip, and I look forward to making a few changes to the process so that we can have an even better experience during the next offering of this service.

Thank you to the community of photographers and other supporters who generously donated their prints, time and ideas to make this project fly!

Joni Kabana, Portland, Oregon, USA

 

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