Since the early spring of last year, I've had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with an organization called 100cameras. Founded in 2009, 100cameras works to empower marginalized children throughout the world through the use of photographic exploration. As a team, we travel to a given location for 2-3 weeks and teach a photography course which allows children to learn technical proficiency, while digging deep into their individual histories, timelines, perspectives, and dreams. All money from the sales of the kids' images goes directly back to their communities to meet physical needs (ie. education, medical, etc.)
If the mission here sounds kind of amazing (almost too idealistic), that's because it truly is....amazing, but not idealistic. The most outstanding aspect of the 100c model is that it actually works. With 5 projects under our belt, plans in the works for a 6th (and beyond), and a tireless, passionate team, 100cameras is progressing at an unstoppable pace.
Before meeting this group and lovingly being invited onto the (almost always sleep-deprived) team, I'd had no insight as to the inner workings of a non-profit. Sure, I'd volunteered hours in my community growing up; Habitat trips, opportunities at schools, the occasional event here and there...but nothing comprehensive. 100cameras quickly became more than a volunteer "job" for me - it became my education in the incredible craziness of running a non-profit, head to toe. Sure, I don't do everything (and how could anyone?) but each team member wears at least 16 different hats, and is still ready to dive head-first into blossoming new projects and challenges.
Exhibit A: Our new website! (you'll get to see it later, I promise)
In the midst of our most recent project (005: Baltimore), it became clear that all five of us on the trip were extreme night owls. By this I don't mean; we enjoyed staying up till 1am, drinking wine, and melting into the couch in front of the tv. By this I mean; we cherished staying up until 3, 4, 5am (sorry, Mom), drinking a little wine, glued to our chairs, hammering away whatever work we could manage to do on our computers. I'm sure I'm not the first to tell you that when you're running a non-profit, the work will manifest. It is there. It is waiting for you. It will be there tomorrow, just do it goddammit, cause you will be happier in the morning (wait...isn't it already morning?yes). Just do it.
On one particular night, let's say the 2nd of the trip, a few of the lead team members were discussing a lack of some critical functions on our website (ie: photographic prints in our shop...uh hello? we definitely need those). I dug a bit to find out what platform our site was built on, and what the future goals were for 100c's web identity. Are we keeping the old site and hoping our printer magically re-opens? Are we building a new site? Who's building it? Do we have that in the budget?
As is a common occurrence among this creative, resourceful team, I piped in and offered to rebuild the site - I knew enough about the platform to navigate it, and was confident I would really enjoy the process.
And guess what happened next...We built the new site! Right. Then.
(okay it took a little longer than one night, but we finished the basic skeleton and added operational functions step by step.)
Never before have I had the opportunity to completely take charge of a project at this level - we all know websites are important, so the fact that the team trusted (and lovingly encouraged...remember that wine? there was also dancing, and this piece of amazing-ness) me wholeheartedly and allowed me to run free with my creative dreamsicles....well, that means a hell of a lot.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, to my incredible 100c family, for cementing in me an unbreakable drive to not. give. (effing.) up.
This group is unstoppable.
Now go look at the WEBSITE!
- shiny new shop (which works!) where you can buy prints, cards, shirts, and other lovely items
- galleries (projects) curated by VSCO from our past 4 projects (Baltimore is currently being curated! Check back October 1st)
- amazing videos by Elle Wildagen
- chances to volunteer with us!
- many more awesome fun things!