It was published in June of 2007 and all proceeds from the book will be donated
to Amnesty International and the Genocide Intervention Network. This is an amazing
project, produced in partnership by PROOF: Media for Social Justice, Amnesty
International, and the Holocaust Museum of Houston. The publisher, powerHouse
Books, was honored in the Fifth Annual Lucie Awards as the 2007 Photography
Book Publisher of the Year. We are all connected and there has to be a worldwide
perspective to inspire an urgent and immediate increase in awareness of human
suffering. Next, the exhibition for the book will premiere at the Holocaust
Museum in Houston on March 12, 2008, and will then go on tour.
Photos © 2008, Colin Finlay, All Rights Reserved
PB: Measuring change is difficult. When the book on Tibet was
reviewed in a German newspaper, their government contacted China about the situation.
My job is to raise awareness. Knowing that the book sold 100,000 copies, I have
to assume that the exposure of images in that quantity must raise awareness
of the issue. My hope is that the change caused by my work will have no borders.
My current project, Bridges (www.bridgesweb.org), was started almost seven years
ago and we are looking at metrics on that project. The goal is to enable children
to share their cultures and issues in their communities using technologies such
as digital storytelling, live video conferencing, in person student exchanges,
and teacher-led text-based communication. We serve students from a variety of
geographical and cultural backgrounds, with a particular emphasis on indigenous
communities and low-income populations.
SB: What marketing tools have you used to spread the word (and
the images) about your mission?
PB: First, I maintain my website, www.philborges.com. And with
many of my projects, partnering organizations have had public relations departments
that spread the word and the images for broad distribution. My wife and business
partner, Julee, sends press releases and contacts the media. The publicity in
Oprah Magazine, Town & Country, American Photo, and The Washington Post
was very helpful. I also expose my work to other forms of media in addition
to print. Cable television and radio stations are great outlets to utilize.
I have received coverage on CNN ("Life After Work" series) and the
Hallmark Channel. We also use radio broadcasts specific to photography projects
such as Shutterbug Magazine Radio, Experience Talks, and Photo Talk Radio.
My latest marketing promotion is from winning the Purpose Prize for the Bridges
project and that has generated more press and connections. Venture capitalists
and others engaging in social programs at the Purpose Prize convention in Palo
Alto, California, have provided excellent networking avenues, which are very
critical for support of the projects.
CF: Promotion is mostly my website, www.colinfinlay.com,
and making connections and networking fuels continued success. It does not matter
how great a photographer you are if nobody knows you exist. Plus, look to emerging
technologies; they are the mass distribution of the future. For example, the
organization Definitive Stories (http://definitivestories.com/)
and I produced a book together, designed by Marta Salas-Porras, entitled Testify.
The idea was to deliver these books electronically with an accompanying spoken
narrative. Definitive Stories' books are meant to be consumed primarily
on iPhones and other handheld media. They may also be ordered in print from
websites such as Amazon.
SB: What recommendations would you make to a photographer looking
to make a difference with their photography and still "pay the rent"?
CF: To pay the rent, I worked very difficult and undesirable
jobs in the beginning. You must determine how much you are willing to sacrifice.
Success requires effort and you must give all or nothing.
PB: The most important thing is to start by finding what cause
is close to your heart and committing yourself to framing the story around it.
Be prepared for obstacles and things that may stand in the way of your goals.
Look past the goals to the end result and then work toward making it happen.
If I had taken the time to contemplate all of the obstacles that might have
been encountered, I would have never started. It is almost like magic happens
once you commit to a project. Somehow the commitment itself, the energy asserted
makes things happen--the money, the access, etc. Maintaining that drive
is what gets you past the obstacles. Keep your eye on the goal and don't
focus on the things that are trying to stop you from your achievement. My belief
is that the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.