Bolivia: learning through my lens!

by holli on August 12, 2014

Bolivia bound!

Bolivia bound!

UPDATE:

Not the kind of update I had hoped to give!

The workshop may be postponed until spring 2015. So, I have decided to put my fundraising efforts on hold until a decision is made (they chose Sept. 1st to make the final call). I am dedicated to attending no matter when it happens.

A few people decided to not attend the workshop, which is frustrating for those of us dedicated to going. But, I realize it is the kind of workshop folks need to have their hearts into since it will require a certain amount of discomfort (21+hours of travel, risks of traveling in a 3rd world country, etc). This will probably be for the best, but it’s hard when you have to fundraise to attend.

Thank you so much for your support this far!

. . .

I want to share some exciting news with you as I am shifting directions and need to ask for your help. I have often asked myself, what do I want to do? I see beauty everywhere. I notice details that many people become immune to seeing. From fine art nature photography to weddings, these traits serve me well, but I’m still not feeling completely fulfilled by my photography business, nor am I succeeding in a way that can help me contribute to the family. Part of this is time, that’s certainly true, but part of it, I think, is that I’ve been holding back. I haven’t been completely honest with myself: What I have always done is help people.

As life moved me around, I found myself oddly offered jobs literally helping others – from tutoring to baking to landscaping to wedding photography to an Internet start up to writing, as well as a few other odd jobs sprinkled in there. When I started a family, I decided to pour my heart into it, and I have learned so much more.

As our family started to grow, I saw could see room for me to help contribute to the family. That’s when I decided to use my photography in a way that could brighten someone’s day and fit into my full time mommy life, and I began my fine art nature photography business. Two and half years into it, and a tax season, showed me it’s not the right direction. This has been my year of transition. I’ve taken a class on posing, a class on studio lighting, and attended a creative challenges class. All of it is leading me to the realization that I have never spoken about – how exactly I have always wanted to use my love of photography to help people.

So, I’m going to put this out here: I want to use my photography to help people. At first I thought that it could be achieved to help by capturing a family’s life in an annual photo session. Then, I thought I could do it through modern portraits of women where they can see how beautiful they really are. And now I’m getting even more specific: I want to help non-profits through photography. My dream business involves doing part non-profit work traveling internationally and part portraiture work here in Seattle.

Which is why in October, I will join Workshops with a Purpose in Bolivia to learn more about the Little Ones Project. Basically, it’s a work and learn opportunity: tell their story through photography while learning how to use photography to help non-profits gain support around the world. Most other photography workshops are held in comfy retreats around the United States, and this one appealed to me because we are actually giving while learning in the field.

Why Bolivia?

Bolivia has the second highest infant mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere. Food for the Hungry is working to provide a solution to this through the Little Ones Project – teaching mothers nutrition and proper care to grow healthy kids. As you already know, feeding kids well is one of my passions. And, while I have no idea what this nutrition program teaches, I’m sure we won’t be talking Paleo and Gluten Free. It will probably be basic nutrition, and my job will be to simply help them continue to do the work. Photographs will help tell the story and gather support.

photo 2

Disposable Camera pics: My grandma and I after landing in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. And detail shot of the the “protective walls” around many homes in Cochabamba.

And, Bolivia holds a special place in my heart. My grandma’s parents were missionaries in Cochabamba when she was teenager. She wanted to revisit her old stomping grounds about 50 years later, and chose me as her traveling companion when I was 16 (probably because I had street smarts and was young enough to not have a family of my own yet). Ever since that trip, I have wanted to go back. It was the first time I had ever seen real poverty. I promised myself then, that I would return someday to help. Guess which city the Little Ones Project is operating out of? Yes, Cochabamba. That detail gave me goose bumps.

Why now?

The timing is sudden for someone like me who likes to plan ahead and save. I had always held this dream in the back of my mind as something I couldn’t do until I was in my retirement years and the kids were all grown up. I assumed I would have to work first to build a successful photography business, and then go on trips to donate my photography services.

Since my photography business is already taking a turn toward portraits and away from fine art, I find myself wondering, why not explore what I really want to do? Why wait and do it the way I had envisioned – especially when there is a great workshop available to me now, about exactly what I want to be doing in a place that I long to return to?

I am going to be honest. For my business, I’ve put every penny earned back into it my business, and this year I’m close to having a positive balance of just over $40. My biggest block is marketing and promoting myself.

If you know someone in Seattle who could use a portrait or family photo shoot, please refer my services. If that’s not an option, then stay tuned. I have a few creative ideas for things to sell in my Etsy store, and a crowd sourcing campaign that’s almost ready to launch.

I need $6,000.00 to cover tuition and airfare by September 1st. And, I’m happy to share that I’ve already raised $600! That leaves $5,400.00 more to go.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. And stay tuned for how this is going to affect Scratch Treehouse~

xo, Holli

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