2015 Hunger Report from Bread for the World Institute

In March, I had the opportunity to travel with a team from Bread for the World Institute as they gathered information for the 2015 Hunger Report. The institute's goal is to educate policy makers and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. The 2015 Hunger Report explains why ending discrimination against women and girls is crucial to ending hunger.

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I am thrilled to have some of my images included in the report, but more importantly to have a small role in educating the world about the experience of women in Rwanda. Take a few minutes to read the report and learn how women are the key to addressing hunger in international communities.

On Being Grateful

During November, I always try to sit down and take stock of my life. We live in a world that moves quickly, and there is always a list of things to accomplish. It’s easy to get lost in the depths of your business and forget to acknowledge the work you did and how grateful you are to be able to create for a living.

I arrived in Rwanda in July 2013. I had it on good authority that I could set up a business. I started the process right away, but my business wasn’t official until November. In the mean time, I started learning video online. I put together my first video on Nasson, a psychotherapist who has done amazing work post-genocide. My second video was for Creative Mornings and allowed me to broaden my community by meeting local artists and entrepreneurs. It was a win-win situation, but I didn't know that at the time.

My first Rwanda-based worked started rolling in January 2014. It was the beginning of an incredible journey in the land of a thousand hills. What a glorious ride!

As of November 2014 I've hit some pretty amazing goals that include:

Working for 20+ organizations and nonprofits

New Squarespace website with the help of my amazing friend Ryan Boden

Photography Workshop for Rwandan Photographers: How To Create Better Business Practices with Laura Pohl

Taught Photography Workshop: Digital SLR 101

Creative Collaboration Project: Pholaborate with Hannelle Lahti & Magda Rakita

Community Creative Event: Slideluck Kigali

Expat Community Group: Artist Abroad with Kevin McCarthy

Pro bono Projects for nonprofits Nyamirambo Women’s Project & WAG

Personal Project on Rwandan Entrepreneurs with Laura Pohl

Personal Project on Maternal Health

 

This year has taught me two valuable lessons. You can always do more than you think you can, and it’s important to collaborate with people who live their life with passion. As you can see, most of my creative endeavors were done in collaboration with other people. I am grateful for the friendship, adventure, and creative journey. 

It's Time to Define Your Photographic Identity


I recently wrote a blog on being paid what your worth and I got some interesting feedback from other photographers.  There was one comment I couldn’t get out of my mind. You shouldn’t spend your energy trying to prove your worth as a creative. You should show why you are different.

Initially, I struggled with this feedback. My inner ego shouted, “I bring value and should receive the pay I deserve.” But the idea continued to pester me. What is it what sets me apart? Do I even know? I came back to this question many times over the next few weeks. It was time for me to understand my identity as a photographer.

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Cultural Awareness

I want to do more on a photo shoot than just show up with my camera. I want to try to understand my subject. I want to have a relationship with them. But I have limited time on most of my photo shoots, so the work on the relationship comes before I’ve ever met them.

I spent time in each country I live in learning the local language and reading about the history of the place that I will be working. I am always amazed that a simple greeting and introduction in Kinyarwanda opens doors for my work in Rwanda. This small effort on my part changes the dynamic of the photographs that I create.

 

Technical Understanding

I am a voracious learner. I came into the industry as a creative, not a technician. But I have spent the last thirteen years sucking up knowledge via degrees, books, workshops, and online classes. I. I do not limit myself to studying only photography but also business and innovation. I believe that my passion for learning has been the best asset in my pursuit of greatness in my craft. I find knowledge in both my successes and failures as both teach me to be a better photographer. This pursuit of technical understanding forces me always to strive to be better than I was yesterday.

 

Personal Passion

I began to dream of being a professional photographer in my early college days, and I haven’t been able to shake it. I cannot imagine a future without my camera. That is what gets me through the tough stuff. When I doubt myself,  I look back at my first portfolio of work and I see the journey. Progress is simply putting one foot in front of the other. I understand that I cannot do without photography. It is as much a part of my identity as breathing.

Joining the Ranks of Ni Nyampinga & Inspiring Girls Everywhere

There are over a million girls in Rwanda and Girl Hub is creating incredible content to educate them through the Ni Nyampinga  magazine and weekly radio show. 90,000 magazines are distributed each quarter. It is the highest circulated magazine in the country and radio reaches every region in Rwanda. . Ni Nyampinga is made by Rwandan girl for Rwandan girls. It inspires girls to succeed and I got to be a part of it.

Photographers are rarely offered a job that encompasses exactly the kind of work they want to do. Working with Girl Hub combines my passion for photography, development, education, and empowering young women.  

I joined this spectacular team for Issue 10. This issue celebrates the role of women to reunite the country during the twenty years post genocide, showcases how women remain  pillars in their communities, and highlights the opportunity that is waiting for Rwandan girls.

©2014 Ni Nyaminga/Girl Hub. All Rights Reserved. The journalists of Ni Nyaminga greeting the world and inspiring the girls of Rwanda.

©2014 Ni Nyaminga/Girl Hub. All Rights Reserved. The journalists of Ni Nyaminga greeting the world and inspiring the girls of Rwanda.

I helped train young Rwandan reporters who have a passion for photography and storytelling. Together we traveled all over the country sharing the stories of women doing amazing things.  We met women feeding the sick in hospitals. Nurses, teachers, and politicians who were adolescents at the time of the genocide who went on do amazing work for their communities.  Mothers who came together to build a better school and brighter future for their children.  Girls who build homes for vulnerable people. 

©2014 Ni Nyaminga/Girl Hub. All Rights Reserved.  The sick and elderly in Rwandan hospitals are dependent on others to bring them food. This women's group cooks together each week and each member cares for one or two people.

©2014 Ni Nyaminga/Girl Hub. All Rights Reserved.  The sick and elderly in Rwandan hospitals are dependent on others to bring them food. This women's group cooks together each week and each member cares for one or two people.

©2014 Ni Nyaminga/Girl Hub. All Rights Reserved.  A politician, a nurse, and a school administrator share their stories of being adolescents during the genocide.

©2014 Ni Nyaminga/Girl Hub. All Rights Reserved.  A politician, a nurse, and a school administrator share their stories of being adolescents during the genocide.

©2014 Ni Nyaminga/Girl Hub. All Rights Reserved. Floride Basabose celebrates a correct answer with her students.  Her school was built by a group of mothers who were determined that the children get a better education.

©2014 Ni Nyaminga/Girl Hub. All Rights Reserved. Floride Basabose celebrates a correct answer with her students.  Her school was built by a group of mothers who were determined that the children get a better education.

©2014 Ni Nyaminga/Girl Hub. All Rights Reserved. Cecile Mukarugaza poses in front of the house that was built for her by an association of students who help vulnerable people.

©2014 Ni Nyaminga/Girl Hub. All Rights Reserved. Cecile Mukarugaza poses in front of the house that was built for her by an association of students who help vulnerable people.

A Nyampinga Girl is….

Unwali Uharanira Kujya Mbere.

A Girl Who Ascends Mountains.

The future of Rwanda is bright and Ni Nyampinga is a movement that is leaving change and prosperity in its wake.

What About Men's Empowerment?

I recently photographed a series of nonprofits in Rwanda with Bread for the World Institute for their 2015 World Hunger Report. The organization I was most impressed with is Men Care. They educate men on parenting and participating in family care, while working to break social taboos.

Men Care often works with young men who are expecting their first child. These men told us that before they started the program that they did not know that their wives need more rest while pregnant or that their babies would benefit from early contact with their fathers. As Men Care participates put their new knowledge in action, they ran into confusion from their families and partners as what they were doing is counter to their traditional roles in Rwandan society.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 

Edouard, who works for Men Care, shared a story demonstrating the cultural attitude toward men and their families. When he took his son to the medical clinic to get immunizations, he overheard some women talking about him and how sad it was that his wife was dead. Edouard told them that his wife wasn’t dead but was working. They couldn’t imagine why he—as the man of the family—would bring his child in for care when his wife was alive and well.

I was grateful to visit a session that Men Care held for young men and have the opportunity to visit the home of one of their members, Theogene. After speaking to him and his family, I realized that we should be looking at empowerment as universal instead of thinking of it strictly in terms of gender. 

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

As someone who often works on projects that address women’s empowerment, I was surprised by how little I had thought about empowering men. I know that cultural traditions often affect the roles that women have in society, but I never thought about how those constraints also have an effect on men. I love documenting stories that challenge my perception and expose me to grassroots solutions changing communities and social norms one person at a time.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

If you want to learn more about Men Care in Rwanda, check out this video by Nathan Golon.

Do You Know How To Use Your Digital SLR?

I have been approached multi times since I've arrived in Kigali about teaching a photography workshop. I officially have put one together so you can take better photos. 

Do you have an awesome camera? Do you know want to know what to do with all those buttons? Do you want to make better pictures? I am hosting a half day workshop on June 28th in Kigali. This workshop is specifically for digital SLR cameras. Contact me today to reserve your slot! Location to follow registration.

This workshop it 50% Lecture and 50% Application. You will need a digital SLR camera. You will learn about basic gear, exposure (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO), focal length, semi automated settings, light, and composition. 

 

 

Experience Rwanda with Nyamirambo Women’s Center

Tourism in Rwanda often centers on gorillas, volcanoes, and Nyungwe Forest. But I want to promote an amazing community-based tourism project that showcases urban life and promotes cultural understanding in Kigali. Are you planning a vacation to Rwanda? Add Nyamirambo Women’s Center to your itinerary!

What Can You Do There?

  • Take tours of the women's homes, local food, and daily urban life.
  •  Attend a traditional Rwandan basket weaving class. It’s harder then it looks!
  •  Buy beautiful African handicrafts from the Umutima sewing project.
  • Visit the Isomero Library, which provides computer, Kinyarwanda, and English classes for the Nyamirambo neighborhood.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

NWC is one of my pro bono photography projects for 2014. The organization meets all my rules for working for free. Their programs are changing the lives of over ninety five women in their community by providing them with skills and education. Evidence shows that when women are empowered, they actively improve not only their life but their communities’ prosperity. 

How are women changing the world in your community? 

My Rules for Taking Pro Bono Photography Work


So you get the opportunity to work with a super stellar international nonprofit that is doing amazing things, but they don’t have a budget for photography. Should you do the work for free?

I know I am not the only person who has ever been tempted by this situation.  All you really need is a few guidelines in place to help you make the best decision for yourself and your business.

©2014 Crystaline Randazzo Photography, LLC. All rights reserved. The Nyamirambo Women's Center is a community organization in Kigali, Rwanda that provides computer courses, Kynarwanda literacy programs, and English classes to women in the community. NWC is a probono project for 2014.

 

Are You the Only Person Working for Free?

Only take pro-bono work when 95% percent of the organization’s staff is voluntary. If everyone else is being paid a salary for the value they add, then you should be too.

 

Limit the Number of Free Projects You Take

You aren’t making any money from this project. As a business professional you need to limit the amount of time that you spend working for free. I take two projects per year. This helps me to be choosy about the type of projects that I accept. I really need to love what the organization is doing in order to get involved.

 

What Does It Do for You?

I know this sounds selfish but you should only take pro-bono projects that do something for you. Build up a portfolio in an area where you’d like to work. Try out some video on a nonpaying client before you unleash your skills on the world. You need to be motivated to do the work beyond just charity or you might resent it later. Most important of all, you need to own the copyright for all the images or product. You won’t be paid for your services, so the images should be yours to do with what you will.

 

Be Clear About Your Time & Deliverables

If you’ve agreed to do a pro-bono project, I guarantee that scope creep will occur and a small project will balloon into a major time suck. You’ll agree to photograph an amazing project on clean water for children and on the way to the shoot you’ll be asked to do some portraits of the head of party or photograph their sister medical project.  You want to stop this before it occurs.

Treat your pro-bono clients just like your paying ones. Draw up a contract. Be specific about how much time you will spend shooting and editing, and what their deliverables will be.

 

Educate Your Client

On the day I deliver the final photos to my probono clients, I show them the photos and explain how I think the images can best be utilized on their website or annual reports. I also give them an invoice so they can understand the value of what I have just given them.  I want to show them how photography and visual story telling will benefit them in the long run.  I want them to see the value of what photographers can do for them.

I never do more than one pro-bono project per organization, as I don’t want to create a dependency of free photography. And I hope that by following my guidelines and educating my clients I’m laying the groundwork for the organization to hire photographers in the future. 

 

What are some of your rules when working for free??

The Bigger Picture: Photography as Entrepreneurship


Are you interested in becoming a photographer? Are you so interested that you’d invest $100,000 and four years of your life towards pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the field? But what would you do if I told you that at least eighty percent of what you are going to need to know as a photographer isn’t taught in the best photography programs in the United States?

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I’m not really one to bash education as I have both an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in photography. But even after multiple degrees, I left school without taking a single course that addressed the business of photography.  As the graphs above indicate, a successful photography business is just that—a business.  I learned how to run my business through trial and error.

Curious to see if any photography programs have added courses on running a successful business in the seven years since I left Syracuse, I rolled up my sleeves and did some research.

UniversityDegreeCostTotal Required HoursTotal Required Business Hours
Brooks InstituteBachelor of Science in Visual Journalism$90,488 for program1206
University of MissouriBachelor of Arts in Photojournalism$36,180 per year (non resident)410
Rochester Institute of TechnologyBachelor of Arts in Photojournalism $47,336 per year1220
Syracuse UniversityPhotojournalism or Illustration Photography$59,320 for program383

I’ve invested a lot of time in the last five years into learning about business of photography. There are amazing photographers out there whose businesses are failing because they don’t understand how to run their businesses. And there are less skilled photographers that are making a good living because they do.  I am not saying that photography degrees aren’t teaching valuable skills, but I believe that we are missing the bigger picture of photography as entrepreneurship.

When you create a soapbox, you have no choice but to stand on it.  I recently partnered with my friend and collaborator Laura Elizabeth Pohl to teach a business practices workshop for photographers in Rwanda.. We both have advanced degrees that taught us to take great pictures, but we left university without knowing how to charge for our services, market our work to clients, or even do basic accounting.  We felt that teaching this course is one opportunity to pass on helpful information developed through experience and help Rwandan photographers to make a living wage.  

If the business of photography isn’t being taught to young photographers, how can they obtain the tools to become successful? What can the professional community do to help?  I’d love to know your thoughts and ideas on how we can promote entrepreneurship.

In order to do my part, I hope to continue sharing information and teaching in the communities that I live in. Keep your eyes open for the podcast from our workshop.