I often question the “value” of my photography, finding myself brushing it away as something that it just silly. I worry that my images aren’t weighty enough, or won’t be taken seriously. I have passion and some knowledge but I’m not changing the world with it, and sometimes I feel bad about that.
I remember clearly the first images I saw that made me realise the power of photography as a medium. In my history lessons at school we looked at the work of Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein – poignant captures from the Great Depression in America in the 1930s. Images that captured something of the subject’s soul, and that do indeed speak a thousand words.
I have a huge admiration for photographers who use their skill to make a difference. I have thought about this a lot, and one day I would love to do something with my photography that leaves a legacy or a mark – but for now my world is much smaller than this. I have chosen to devote myself to my family, and bringing up my boys, and my focus for now is to capture the peaceful and happy moments in my world. I have also learnt that there is value in this, and there is nothing wrong with sharing the beauty around you. Just because pictures are positive, doesn’t mean they are “empty”.
Despite my realisation that there is value in my work as it is, my desire to do something that matters is always at the back of my mind.
Several months ago an opportunity arose that really felt like it reached out and touched this desire. The email came from an organisation called Creating for Good. Formed out of 10 London-based creatives, their incentive was to utilise their combined skills and audience to make the world a better, kinder place. They joined forces to host events, workshops, photo walks and auctions, with very penny that they made being donated to help people affected by war and poverty.
I had been involved with Creating for Good already this year when I helped out at their Creative Conference, co-hosting some styling workshops with one of their founder members and my good friend Jessica Bride. As far as I am concerned what they have done is one of the best things to have come out of Instagram, and it’s enormously inspiring to see the way they have donated so much of their time and skill to raise huge amounts of money for charity already.
Receiving an email from them of course immediately sparked my interest, but I couldn’t have begun to imagine quite how exciting that email would be. Creating for Good had been approached by Taylors of Harrogate, to embark on an extraordinary journey together. They wanted to develop a series of workshops inspired by Taylors’ core values and their tea and coffee products, and take 8 Instagrammers along with them. The journey began last month in Harrogate, the home of Taylors’ tea and coffee production, and will end in February 2019 in Rwanda, the origin of much of the produce that Taylors source.
In between there will be several workshops, each one focused around one of Taylors’ passion points – travel, craftsmanship, food, and nature, and will aim to teach us skills we may need whilst reporting in the field in Rwanda.
Taylors of Harrogate are a company I feel I’ve grown up with, and I think most Yorkshire folk are quite proud of a good cup of Yorkshire tea! What I didn’t realise until we visited the Taylors headquarters, it that as a company they have a long history of ethical and fair trade tea and coffee production and buying. They are very involved with each of their origin countries, visiting the plantations regularly and investing in community projects.
My Mum send me this lovely article that appeared in the Yorkshire Post over the weekend, which gives a great insight into the roll that Taylors of Harrogate, and cricket (!) have played in the regeneration of Rwanda after the horrific genocide in 1994. Taylors have been involved with the Rwandan tea and coffee industry since day one, and now buy 15% of the country’s tea. Since 2010 they have invested an incredible £1 million on social and environmental projects, including ensuring that all workers on their tea and coffee estates are at least 16 years of age.
Going forward Taylors will be donating money to Creating for Good’s charity of choice, Women for Women International. It’s well worth taking a minute to read about the amazing work this charity is doing to help the victims of war and poverty. When we visit Rwanda, we will also get the chance to see the work of Women for Women in the field.
I am beyond excited to be involved with this project, and I can’t wait to see what is in store next. Our first workshop in Harrogate was held in the majestic Rudding Park and lead by Jessica Bride and Jess Henderson. We were shown the work of 8 inspirational storytellers, across the genres of music, film, photography and writing. and the different ways in which emotion can be conveyed.
Tomorrow the journey continues in London with our second event, and it’s a long time since I’ve felt so inspired by a project or a group of people. I’m very grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity to work with these inspiring and ethical organisations, and to help in any small way I can to raise awareness of the importance of the work they are doing. I’m so looking forward to the next stage, and developing my own story telling skills ready for our extraordinary journey to Rwanda in February 2019.