How a photograph can change lives

Mar 7, 2013

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A great one is worth much more than that. Think of famous photos like the napalm girl in Vietnam, the post-depression Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange, athletes Tommy Smith and John Carlos making Black Power salutes at the 1968 Olympics, or Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl. A picture can connect us with people and help us understand their lives. It can even help create tangible social change and a better world. 

That’s what photographer Nancy Farese believed when she founded the non-profit Photo Philanthropy in 2009. Her job is to connect professional photographers with non-profits to help them bring awareness to the causes they serve. Farese was first inspired when she was photographing South Sudanese in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya for Human Rights Watch. She joined Hana Baba in the KALW studios.

HANA BABA: Why don't you explain to me that process of, here is a photograph and it will lead to social change? How does it usually work?

NANCY FARESE: Well, I think it's important to just think about storytelling period. We're interested in stories that matter and visible tools that drive stories that matter. Photography since it's inception has always been used to create awareness. And I think that photography and visual media broadly can connect you on such a basic, visceral, human level.

Click the audio player above to listen to the conversation.