Making Change-makers Visible

When it only takes under a second for the camera to take that shot, you want to make sure you capture the very best of the person you’re photographing. Especially if they are a change-maker. 

Change-maker in Generation Share book Georgia Nicolau - photo taken by Sophie Sheinwald
Georgia Nicolau, director, citizen innovation at Instituto Procomum in Sao Paulo.

In 2016 I started taking photographs of some very inspiring people for the book Generation Share. This was the beginning of an incredible collaborative project. It was Benita Matofska, a passionate public speaker on the subject of the Sharing Economy, who had the idea. She wanted to capture the stories of sharing that she had seen firsthand. She needed a visual component to help connect the reader to the stories for the book. I saw the scope of creating some powerful visual storytelling – so I said yes. So together we created an inspiring visual story book that was published in June 2019. 

Sharing Economy 

The Sharing Economy was a subject I had little knowledge about, however I have learnt so much since. It’s the clever use of resources that would otherwise be unused or go to waste. It can involve things like goods sharing, food waste initiatives, use of abandoned spaces, skill sharing and even the intangible. I can seen how the Sharing Economy is changing the narrative. It’s actively creating a sustainable future on a global scale. 

All in all we documented stories from about 200 change-makers. In doing so we have created a colourful spectrum of humanity that’s bringing hope to the world.

Coen van de Steeg founder of Wehelpen, changemaker in Generation Share
Coen van de Steeg, founder of Wehelpen sharing platform, , Netherlands. Wehelpen enables access for people who need help with volunteers who wan to help others
Aarti Naik changemaker in Generation Share, founder of the Sakhi School for Girls Education pictured with her mother 
in their one-room slum in Muland, Mumbai.
Aarti Naik founder of the Sakhi School for Girls Education pictured with her mother
in Muland, Mumbai. Generation Share contributes to educating slum girls.

Global impact 

Generation Share Launch in Brooklyn at the Big Alice Brewery in September 2019
Generation Share book launch at Big Alice Brewery, Brooklyn, NY.

We had 28 Generation Share book launches set up across cites globally. During each launch people would remark on the connection they had to the change-makers as they flicked through the book. Moreover, I received comments like “The photography lifts each story off the page and brings it to life.” This was the ultimate impact for me, demonstrating of the value of making these change-makers visible.

Subconscious impact of a visual component.

I saw Cephas Williams’s talk at TEDx Brighton in October 2019. He’s an example of a change-maker who could have been featured in Generation Share. In his powerful talk, he pointed out the impact of the media and how black men are visibly portrayed. Cephas demonstrated how the stereotypes of black men have subconsciously created a self fulfilling prophecy. The visual story of black men in the media had created a limited view. They are dangerous hoody wearing black men, distinguished grey actors, or very sporty men. Cephas said, “So it’s no surprise that I wanted to be a football player or become a pro basketball player.” So to handle this phenomena he founded 56 Black Men, opening the door to more opportunities. Needless to say, his talk was most memorable.

So this demonstrates that what we see has the power to subconsciously effect our viewpoint and even our choices. So it must be important to ensure we are aware of the effects of what we see. Moreover, we can choose to look out for stories that invigorate and enliven our lives.

Seeing is believing

This is why it’s important for me to photograph people who create a positive impact. We’ve seen how on a daily basis, we have a prominence of negative visual noise throughout most mainstream media. In fact we can be forgiven for feeling hopeless and confused about the future state of our planet. 

For me the visual message I want presented is that of hope. There are more and more people out there across the world who doing something positive.

So if we don’t see that there are many change-makers actively making a difference, then we may not believe it! Generation Share demonstrates the scope of positive actions by example. So look out, there are many more inspiring change-makers bursting though barriers to make our world a better place – each one worthy of visibility. 

Generation Share book
Generation Share book

Spreading inspiration 

Generation Share demonstrates the social impact of sharing on a global scale and it makes me very proud to make change-makers visible. For me. it’s about capturing that passion and purpose that drives a person to succeed. Furthermore it highlights responsible leadership, much needed in these turbulent political times.

The Generation Share book itself is made sustainably. Published by Policy Press, each book plants a tree and educates a slum girl in Mumbai. Generation Share is book is an ideal gift that keeps on giving. A coffee table book to dip into for inspiration.  

If you want a photo session that respects your inner change-maker, I’d love to help you tell your visual story.