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Friday, 20 July 2012

Help Save An Ass Project by Joao Carlos

Joao Carlos is an international, award winning fashion and beauty photographer, a Hasselblad master and he believes in giving back through his art.  So he was happy to contribute to The Association for the Preservation of Donkeys - Burricadas.  Founded in 2007, this organization is committed to saving, rescuing, and supporting aging donkeys in Portugal.  "Traditionally used as beasts of burden and drought animals throughout Portugal's rural areas, culturally donkeys have been seen as little more than agricultural tools". The Help Save An Ass Project is a beautiful collection donkey portraits by Joao Carlos. 100% of the profits going directly back to The Association of the Preservation of Donkeys, which receives no government funding or subsidies.  Their entire operating budget comes from private donations and fundraising projects like this.  In Portugal, the donkey will "endure a very difficult and harsh life, with hardly any affection and very little care.  Usually, after a lifetime of serving their masters, these animals are usually sold for slaughter, often as food for the big carnivores." The Help Save An Ass Project book can be purchased  here.

"I believe in Karma. I believe in hard work. I believe in love. I believe that what you get in life is a result of what you give..." ~ Joao Carlos

For more information on The Donkey Shelter, please visit their website at

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Smiling Eyes Project by Christine Kufske

Cancer.  A disease which 40% of Canadian women and 45% of Canadian men will develop during their lifetimes.1

Christine Kufske was two years into her full time photography business ( when her neighbour was scheduled to start chemotherapy for breast cancer.  Feeling powerless, but eager to help, Christine offered her friend the one thing she could: a complimentary photo shoot.  Her neighbour and friend was so grateful that Christine realized that this was something she could continue to give.  With that, The Smiling Eyes Project was born.  It quickly grew from one  photographer in 2006, to twenty photographers today.  "It's pretty cool when we can help make someone forget about their journey by being surrounded by their closest loved ones for an hour or two, by having fun, laughing and cuddling and creating memories captured on film."  Holly Schnider ( joined The Smiling Eyes Project in 2008 as a tribute to her mother --a breast cancer survivor.  "A lot of photographers start their business because photography is a passion and of course that's no different with me. But, I need to do more than just take photos and reap profits. I take photos and capture memories because it's important to the overall quality of our lives -- my clients and myself. Being able to share my love of photography with those who could use an extra boost of happiness or to help celebrate their fight with Cancer and disease is extremely rewarding. Photography isn't just a business, it's life. And why not share that passion with others? You find inspiration for life and images in almost every corner of the world and Smiling Eyes is a big corner for inspiration and strength." Each Smiling Eyes session is a special experience.  Schnider says it's about the experience "and seeing how happy the clients are if they have won the battle or how strong and determined they are if they are mid-struggle. I feel inspired with each and every session, no matter what leg of the journey the recipient is on".  As a Smiling Eyes photographer, Holly is required to provide two complimentary Smiling Eyes sessions per month.  To apply, photographers must have an online portfolio and have been shooting for a minimum of two years.  Kufske also wants to know why they want to become a part of the team.  Schnider says she gains something valuable from each Smiling Eyes session too.  "I'm more aware of being present and appreciating what I have, not what is 'missing'. It's all about attitude and approach. The positive energy felt through my Smiling Eyes clients snaps me back on course because if they can keep pushing forward no matter what has been tossed their way, why can't I?"  Schnider says her Smiling Eyes clients want to be treated like any other client and it shows -- in the experience and the images.  Caroline Greenway is one of the Smiling Eyes clients and a cancer warrior.  Diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer called "secretory carcinoma", at the age of 22, Greenway has undergone a mastectomy, six weeks of radiation, and one (of two) reconstruction surgeries.  Her second one is scheduled for the end of the month.  This form of breast cancer is exceptionally rare; in fact, her initial biopsy results came back as a cyst, not cancer.   She turned to Smiling Eyes as a way to celebrate completing her radiation treatment.  "Smiling Eyes gave me a memory I will never forget and pictures that will show who I was, and who my family was in that incredible moment in my life. Christine captured our feelings, and our love for one-another in a momentous way and I would thank her a million times over if I could. I often look back at those pictures and I can't help but smile. Smiling Eyes gave me the ability to be thankful, to smile, and to always remember that time in my life." 

Helen Robertson's experience was equally valuable but much different.  It was Helen's son, Liam who was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma at the just three months of age.  Liam had tumors on his adrenal gland, liver, lymph nodes, and skin.  He underwent eight rounds of chemo, several surgeries, and experimental vitamin therapies.  At the time of their first Smiling Eyes session,  "Liam was 4 months old and had just had surgery to biopsy his tumors.  He was full of stitches, looked sick, and somehow [Christine] managed to capture his smile and have him look perfect."  Liam is now a healthy, happy eight year old boy. "Smiling Eyes gave us memories that will last a lifetime.  When you have a sick child you often don't feel like taking a lot of pictures and don't have a lot to celebrate but we have beautiful photos that are still on our wall."  Naturally, Robertson feels that Smiling Eyes is a wonderful project.  Their most recent session was to celebrate Liam's five years off treatment.

As founder of The Smiling Eyes Project, Kufske has been touched by cancer several times over -- her father, grandmother, and close friends have been affected by cancer.  "It's a disgusting disease and this is my way of fighting back."  For you -- the strong, the warriors, the champions -- it is the goal of Smiling Eyes to give you this gift: "an hour out of your journey to offer you fun and laughter with your loved ones, while creating memories that can be cherished. We want to help make your journey a little less difficult, and make memories of life and love more vivid." For information on The Smiling Eyes Project, visit their website

  1 Candian Cancer Society, General Cancer Statistics at a Glance,

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Kate's Kause by Karen Meissner

So I'm here showing my own work today.  Not because I necessarily want to showcase my stuff, but because I want to showcase my Kause!

In the fall of 2010 Kate's Kause was founded.  Kate is my neice, who was diagnosed with Angleman Syndrome.  Through fundraising efforts, the support of the community and several grants, Kate's Kause has raised over $265 000 in a little over 16 months.  So today I'd like to put the spotlight on Kate's Kause - dedicated to Angelman Syndrome awareness and inclusive community projects.

What is Angelman Syndrome?
Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a rare (1 in 15000 births) neuro-genetic disorder characterized by a severe global developmental delay.  People with AS or "angels" have little or no verbal skills, poor gross and fine motor skills, and possible sleep and seizure disorders. However Angels do have one unique characteristic.  They have a happy demeanor, wonderful smile and contagious laughter.
What is your fundraising supporting?
In the spirit of inclusion, the current goal of Kate's Kause is to build and all-accessible playground in Elmira, Ontario.  This park will provide a place where children of all abilities can play together - typical and atypical children, toddlers learning to walk and children with balance issues or vestibular problems.  These playgrounds have extra costs involved, primarily due to the specialized turf on the ground. This turf allows children with wheelchairs and walkers and other difficulties safe access to the playground.
What was the purpose of the event last week?
The goal of the event last week was to increase awareness and to celebrate with other members of our community.  Our fundraising efforts to this point have been supported by our family, friends and contacts via social networking.  The event helped us to spread that support to other members of the community so that we can continue with our goals for the future.
Tell us about Kate?
Kate is amazing.  She will be turning 3 this summer and is showing dramatic improvement every week.  She recently learned to feed herself finger food, she stands and walks with help and is constantly progressing.  She attends pre-school regularly and is looking forward to joining her brother, cousins and friends on the playground this summer.  Here are some photos of Kate from last summer.

To find out more about Kate's Kause, please visit their website, follow them on twitter or like them on facebook.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Portraits for Nepal by Solveig Boergen

Imagine never seeing a photograph of yourself.  Never holding a print in your hand.  Never experiencing the joy that photography brings.  For many people this is their reality, but Solveig Boergen is changing that, one portrait at a time.

Where are you from?
Originally, I am from Bonn, Germany but have been in Asia for over 20 years. I spent a lot of time in China in the late 80s, then moved to Japan in 1991 where I lived until a few days after the March11 2011 earthquake.  We then moved to Thailand for a year and 10 days ago, we moved to the small city of Pokhara in Nepal.
Why did you move to Nepal?  
We will be here for one year due to my husbands research for his university in Japan.
Where did your idea for these portraits come from? 
Last year, when Bangkok was threatened by flooding we came to Nepal and spent a month here. On our first day here, I wandered around with my camera and big white lens and was asked by a mom to take her picture as she did not have a photo of her and her baby. This made me think- we were in a city near Kathmandu, where people have much more than in the countryside. If the families here do not have portraits, what about the folks in the countryside then? So, my idea was born -I wanted to use my time here to give portraits to as many families as I can.

What is your typical day like when you are shooting?
I hire a car with a driver to take me to places where no foreigners or tourists usually go. Really really countryside and often only accessible by hiking up the mountains. We go as far as the car can take us and from there we hike to reach far away villages. My driver explains in Nepali that I want to give portraits and we start going around the houses and people come to us.  The news of us gets around really quickly and sometimes people run down the hill to catch us and have their portraits taken.
Once I am back in our guesthouse, I edit the pictures and have them developed at a local professional lab.  Sometimes, I am able to have a bigger image framed to deliver it, but most of the time, I will deliver portrait prints in 5x7 or 8x10.  My goal is to be able to give each family a bigger framed portrait to display in their home, but I will need donations to be able to do that. The portraits are then delivered by either me or someone else as mail delivery is not really possible here.
What are the conditions like for the families that you photograph? Most of the families that I photograph are very, very poor, they are farmers and live in small villages, where water has to be collected and electric power is not available. Often, the men of the family are working abroad to make money and the women are alone with their children. 

What else are you doing in Nepal?
At the moment, I am concentrating on photographing our experiences here in Nepal. I want to travel as much as I can and see as much as possible of this beautiful country that is our home for one year.

 If you'd like to see more beautiful images or are interested in more information on Portraits for Nepal, please visit the facebook page

Sunday, 1 April 2012


This all began with a seed of an do I do more? How do I get more people in the photography community to do more?  How do I help showcase their "do more" projects?  Now that seed has grown into a teeny tiny plant...but we need some more nutrients to help it grow.  We need you to spread the word about what we are doing and who we are doing it for.  After all, this plant isn't really about the fruit, its about who we give the fruit to.

Are you a photographer?  We want to challenge you to contact a charity or not for profit group in your community.  Find out how you can help.  Is it an event you can take photos at? Pictures for their annual report?  Head shots of their board of directors? Or photos for their clients?  Let me know how you are doing along the way and together we can give a lot of fruit to a lot of worthy people!