(A version of this post first appeared on the blog at Bread for the World, my employer.) These women are part of a sewing/tailoring workshop at a family center run by MRDS.org in Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq. (Copyrighted photo courtesy of Heber Vega)
If people remember a photograph, they are more likely to remember the issue or event that goes along with it. As a photographer, I try to take memorable and striking photos. But when it comes to photographing hunger and poverty-related issues - which are my main "beats" at my job - there's the added responsibility of maintaining the dignity of the people being photographed. It's what I aim for in my photography, and it's what these photographers do well on their blogs.
Here are my top five humanitarian photo blogs, in no particular order:
- Esther Havens is an American photographer whose work I first stumbled upon on the Charity:Water blog. Her vibrant pictures capture people's strength, dignity, and unique personalities. Some of her pictures are even funny -- which is rare in humanitarian photography -- as you can see in this blog post about Rwandan boys participating in an education and food program. Don't miss her post about the reality of working as a humanitarian photographer.
- Ikuru Kuwajima is based in Kazhakstan and works around Central Asia, an area that I hadn't seen many pictures of before following Ikuru's blog. From people rebuilding their lives in Kyrgyzstan to Armenians still coping with the aftermath of a 1988 earthquake, Ikuru's pictures reflect his journalism background, but with an artist's sensibilities. He also spent time last year in Japan -- his home country -- documenting the aftermath of the earthquake and nuclear plant emergency.
- Glenna Gordon, an American photojournalist, shuttles between West Africa and New York, but used to live in Liberia, where she photographed for newspapers and NGOs. If you're looking for news and music from Africa, plus fresh photographs and introspective commentary about life in Africa, then you'll enjoy Glenna's blog, Scarlett Lion. Her photo story on Harper, Liberia, a decaying coastal town, is a must-see.
- Heber Vega is a humanitarian aid worker-turned-photographer who has been based in Iraq since 2003. His blog is a mix of his own photography -- like this post on photographing women in a Muslim Country; interviews with other photographers; and advice on photographic techniques. One thing that impresses me about Heber, who's from Chile, has nothing to do with his pictures: he founded The ONE-SHOT Project, a nonprofit that teaches photography and multimedia skills to Iraqi children.
- Photo Philanthropy is well-known in photography circles for promoting photography for social change. Every year since 2009, the organization has granted awards for the best humanitarian photo stories from professional and amateur photographers (full disclosure: I entered the contest in its first year and didn't win). The blog features pictures, interviews with Photo Philanthropy award winners and grantees, and opportunities for photographers to work with nonprofits.
What humanitarian photo blogs do you follow? Let us know in the comments section (at the top of the post, next to the date).