As a photographer I have photographed some of the most interesting characters in cities such as New York, Baltimore, Washington DC, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Santiago, Cuba. Friends, family memebers, and strangers who each have had compelling stories of personal struggle and triumph; who's lives have been a testiment to how valuable life is and how each of us fights for it in our own way. I now have the chance to expand my body of work and photograph people in 25 more countries. Places as varied as Salvador da Bahia Brazil, Da Nang Vietnam, Colombo Sri Lanka, Saint Petersburg Russia, Cartagena Colombia, and Istanbul Turkey. Each location with new people and new stories to share about how people lives their lives: what do they do for work? what do they do for spirituality? what do they do for friends, family? What do they do for recreation?
How is this possible?
I have been asked to join Peace Boat's 74th Global Peace Voyage as their Web Reporter. I will be responsible for documenting Peace Boat's floating classroom - where the projects participants will learn about peace, human rights, as well as equal and sustainable development. Peace Boat will dock in 24 countries and while in each port they will meet with NGOs and other groups of people who are working to nurture life in their communities. I will produce 2 - 3 reports a week using photography, video and writing to not only bring these peace building communities to the web but to also document the trip's participants responses to this unique experience.
After Peace Boat I will head to Salvador da Bahia. While in Salvador I will be working with a major Afro-Brazilian cultural association to extend my work - understanding how life is lived outside of the United States. Unilke Peace Boat which covered 24 countries in 4 months, I will be living and working in 1 community, meeting those who live there, learning (and experiencing) their way of life. Because I will be in Salvador for up to 6 months I will be in a position to not only "map" the community I will be living in but to also make connections to how this community fits into Brazil's growing economy and changing political scene.
Both the work I did with Peace Boat and in Salvador will be posted on my website and will also serve for a gallery exhibit in New York city.
Why is this important?
These 2 projects will take ever bit of talent and skill that I have as a photographer, writer, film maker, producer, researcher, listener and counselor. The project will require me to not only take beautiful photographs but work with the people I encounter to understand their stories, from their perspective, and that highlights their particular challenges and talents in respnding to them. That form of listening, engaging, and grappling with is daunting if I were only going to 1 country but 25? What is exciting and challenging about this project is that it gives me a chance to share the innumerable things and ways that individuals value their lives and the lives of others AND at the same time share the connections that emerge between the stories I will be telling.
What makes this project unique?
As a photojournalist I have noticed that people often believe that their personal struggles are just that, personal. At times they will notice that they share some commonality with the people immediately around them, but almost never are able to see the connections with someone half a world away. What is amazing about these silos, is that someone working half away across the planet, with a different history, culture, and the rules that go along with those things, will approach things differently - and perhaps maybe, we can help each other out! This project explicitly works to undo that by connecting communities' stories through photographs, video, and audio. I explicitely want to seek life out, and give it a platform for expression and hope that as people see these connections, they will elect to support not only their individual quest for better lives but those of their neighbor.
The project is ambitious and as such needs a community investment. I need to raise $7,500 quickly. This amount supplment the cost of both trips, and my equipment needs. I am scheduled to depart on 7 July - this is exciting but also creates a sense of urgency. I have raised $1,000 but need $6,500 more to realize the full vision. For those who donate to this project I will offer the following thank yous:
Contributions of $500 or greater Producer credits for these 2 projects, 2 limited edition, signed fine art prints of my 2004 trip to Cuba, 5 4x5 postcard sized prints from both trips
Contributions of $250 Supporter credit for these 2 projects, 1 limited edition, signed fine art prints of my 2004 trip to Cuba, 5 4x5 postcard sized prints from both trips
Contributions of $100 Special Thank for these 2 projects, 5 4x5 postcard sized prints from both trips
All Contributions will be placed on an email mailing list which will have periodic updates on the project, my itinerary, introductions to characters in its emergeing story, as well as additional opportunties to get involved.
Your conributiion is creately appreciated and I would love to receive feedback I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to pass this webpage onto friends, family memebers and colleueges - anyone you believe would be interested in not only supporting this project but also interested in following its development.
leon anthony james