CRYSTALINE RANDAZZO

NONPROFIT STORY DESIGNER, PHOTOGRAPHER, VIDEOGRAPHER

I’m a professional photographer and filmmaker with more than a dozen years of experience working in documentary, nonprofit, and portrait photography. In 2010, I lived through an earthquake and it changed the way I looked at media, development, and disaster response. I primarily work with nonprofits, B corps, and social enterprises to find and share their stories through media. My goal is to craft emotional visual stories for specific audiences to create positive change in the world while giving dignity to those who open their lives to my lens. I love creating stories that deserve to be told and living a life of adventure with my husband and our furry Zambian cat. I am currently based in Kathmandu, Nepal. You can also follow my work at NGOStorytelling.com, a site created to inspire and inform humanitarian storytellers around the world.

 

MY STORY

After the earthquake, I put my camera down and I didn't know if I'd pick it up again. I had spent years and many thousands of dollars becoming a photographer but none of it mattered to me. I had recently married an American diplomat and was living with him in Haiti when the earthquake hit. I passed the days after assisting in disaster relief in whatever way I could: cleaning toilets at the embassy, tracking down diapers and baby formula, and cooking for more than twenty exhausted embassy employees who paused at my house for a quick bite and some shut eye before heading back to work. I put all my energy into helping Americans leave Haiti and tried not to think about the devastation I'd seen outside the embassy walls.

I remember getting an email that said, "The photos you will take from this experience will make your career" but I couldn't imagine taking any photographs. The photos I eventually made in Haiti (months later) did not "make" my career, but they started me down a path that changed the way I saw photography, development, and emergency response. I didn't know it then but my choices in the weeks after the earthquake gave me some important clues about the work I am most passionate about. I learned that I was not capable of picking up my camera when life and death was on the line. I learned I was more humanitarian than photojournalist. This is not to say that one is better than the other, but simply to understand myself. 

I eventually returned to my camera. I took my first photography workshop on photography for nonprofits. I flew from Port-au-Prince to Uganda. I was recovering from an earthquake. Uganda was recovering from war. This trip was the best therapy I have ever done for myself. It allowed me to throw myself into photography in way that felt useful. I worked with organizations that were helping people by providing food, education, and empowering women to create change in their lives. My photos were helping to tell stories that contributed to good in the world and I felt something I hadn't felt in many months: hope.

Since then, I've expanded my work to both photography and video. I've documented agricultural projects in Haiti, women's cooperatives in Rwanda, adoptions in Congo, and reconstruction in Nepal. I specialize not just in visual storytelling but in helping nonprofits find and create meaningful stories through media. I believe that individual stories are the most powerful way to motivate others to get involved in our causes. And I'd like to think I've remained true to my humanitarian roots by wielding my camera in ways that give my subjects dignity and control . Every day I learn to ask myself difficult questions, hone my craft, and tell better stories.