I care about using photography as a means for change. I am very passionate about the subjects that I photograph, and this always inspires me to push further. My birth photography work started in conjunction with my doula work, accompanying women during childbirth, and documenting the experience for them. This has made an impact in two ways: First, documentation of a vulnerable moment in a woman's life allows her access to it afterwards, to process what happened. Often the births I attend are full of love and support, and women feel proud and empowered by the experience. Having documentation of this makes it even more real for them, and they can relive the moments again. Sometimes, it's a matter of catching moments from an observer's perspective, moments that they might not have even remembered, as they were experiencing it from a very different perspective. Another way these birth images have been making an impact is by showing women what actually happens during childbirth. For the most part, a woman preparing for childbirth, or hoping to get pregnant, has never been to a birth, and has no practical experience or knowledge about what actually happens. My photos have been helping women prepare for childbirth. These photos have changed women's thoughts about childbirth from fear to excitement. Birth is not something to dread. Women's bodies are not incapable. They were literally made to do this. They are powerful and capable. I would like to continue photographing birth, and hope to travel in order to document the differences in birthing around the world. Birth is on the cusp of change. It is in need of change. Women (and their partners) are speaking up about their right to birth where they want, attended by who they want, and under the circumstances that they want. Birth statistics are incredibly disastrous right now, and I hope through photographing the different birth cultures around the world I can help create a more balanced, positive, and inclusive birthing culture for women and their children.
As a female-to-male transsexual, I am a member of a highly marginalized and often misunderstood gender-creative community. The transgender community has one of the highest suicide attempt rates of any marginalized group - a fact I find unacceptable. While statistics specific to Canada are difficult to find due to lack of research in this area, a community-based research project in Ontario determined that 43% of the transgender individuals they surveyed in that province reported attempting suicide. This is in line with findings from the US National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The US task force found that of the 7,000 transgender people they surveyed, 41% had attempted suicide at least once. I have personally experienced the suicide of loved ones and have myself grappled with suicidal thoughts as a result of the losses I have faced due to my transgender identity. My goal is to tell my story and raise awareness about this silent epidemic. While this community is gaining increased visibility thanks to celebrities like Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox, Buck Angel, Jenna Talackova, Lana Wachowski and Chelsea Manning, to name just a few, many in this community continue to face rejection from their families, employers, friends, and communities simply for who they are. This needs to stop. No one deserves to die for who they are.
What I really care about is people, connection, friendship. I lived in many different Countries and I always found a "new family", but here in Vancouver surrounded by people I found silence. A silence that comes from loneliness, distance between each other and fear. No one looks at each other in the street, in the elevator, in the skytrain. I was standing in the street in downtown, I stopped, everything was going so fast around me and I just wanted to scream, to shout...I realised I don't want to be dried out or tamed but that silence, this is not me, is not how I like to live my life. People are afraid to communicate, to say something wrong. It is so intense when you come across someone in the street and your eyes meet for a brief second, a smile makes us part of the same world, our lives touch, those seconds make me feel so warm. Some days those moments keep me going, keep me believing in people, in friendship, make me believe that soon someone will break their rules and connect with me again. If only we were able to take the chance to find our voices again, cry out our fears, welcoming someone new, we could change so many lives without medicine.
I started Tips for Change in early August 2013. The idea was to raise awareness to anything that other servers/bartenders cared to by telling costumers at the end of their service their tips would be donated to where that person thought the money should go. I didn't start T.F.C. with a grand scheme. I started it truthfully because I was angry. Someone I love at one point in their life was sexually assaulted. I was angry it happened. I was angry at the individual(s) who were involved. I was angry I was not there at that point in time to intervene - a very male romantic idea to stop the wrong doing just before it happens. I wanted to buy back what happened to my friend. I care about the women in my life. I also care about the males in my life and I'm concerned about the ones who look down on women. I care about what people think it means to be a man in our society, that men can justify taking advantage of women in situations and remove themselves from blame. I care about preventing sexual assault. I care to change the definition of being a man to being Hu-Man.
I really care about wind. A lot of people do actually, but more because of its practical implications. They are sailors, engineers, farmers… but we, average people, don’t truly think about the wind as often as we should.
It caresses our skin, makes the leaves dance in the parking lot when you’re the last one in the office, gets sand from a distant tropical beach and makes it travel miles and miles until it falls to the bottom of the ocean. Wind can bring that warm and magical electricity ten minutes before it starts to pore rain and fill your lungs with life and hope. Wind made Portugal and Spain become empires and great cities burn faster as it spread through its invaded streets.
I’m not sure when this fascination with wind started, maybe it’s this story they told us in school: There’s a city up Northern Brazil that’s windy 24/7. Wind simply doesn’t stop, doesn’t change its speed or even direction and the teachers would tell us it made the people there go crazy, because of its eternal presence. When you go to school, or on a date, or simply to buy bread, you feel wind. When you’re in your house, in a bar or inside a car, you hear it. There’s no running from it. Like everything beautiful, it can also be destructive. That day I became fascinated with how powerful and present wind is.
I am deeply involved in learning and sharing compassionate communication (or nonviolent communication) and interpersonal neurobiology with others as a way to improve the quality of connection and understanding with myself, my friends and the larger community. Being able to identify my emotional reactions and the needs or values that drive them help me communicate more clearly with others, especially when I develop an understanding of how language impacts us. In addition, beginning to learn about the function of our brain and nervous system as a socially influenced whole deepens that understanding and communication with others (or myself). In a supportive, knowledgeable community I can help change the way my brain processes information, so I am making conscious choices instead of unconscious reactions. I can literally build my brain’s functioning to become more whole and integrated. For me, the experience of real connection, trust, love and community was shut down early in my life, and only reawakened and continues to grow as l learn and practice compassionate communication and bring empathy to old memories I experienced as traumatic. To learn that I matter, and belong, and that contributing and supporting others also meets my needs has been transformative, and I want to share this experience with others.
I have had a colorful and diversified work history which has brought me to meet so many different people from all around the world right here in my own back yard. . However I have travelled little outside of Canada. Born in Montreal, in the early sixties, youngest of seven children, we were poor but I did not know it. Life was simple, we traded clothes between us, we heated the house with coal, we did not lock our doors, and you knew it was time to go home when the street lights came on. Life was simple, people trusted each other...and I think what I learned then, is how I really choose to live my life now...simply!!
What I care about is People - the human spirit and what it makes us do for one another, how we need one another, how we love and care for each other unconditionally. However now life in it's simplest terms is...well not so simple, it is not trusting the neighbour, it is locking every possible possession, we no longer have a use for the doorbell, we "socialize" and interact in a very different way.
I have learned that people want two things in life the most. To be heard, and to be loved. Even in death we want our say, we want people to talk about us, we want our favourite songs played and we would like if possible for many friends to attend our last farewell. And during our time here on earth, we want love, to be loved and loved back. This is the one thing that has not changed, we need to care and to be cared for.
I was a funeral director and embalmer for a period of time and I presently work in health care where I see what family, friends and loved ones mean to one another. There is nothing as deep and profound as when someone you love is sick, or dying. But what about all the in-between times, the sunday afternoon family gatherings, sitting around and talking and telling stories, yes to some degree I am sure it does still happen. But more and more we are not sitting face to face and talking, what will the future bring for relationships for both family and friends. I am not one to worry about what will be, however I do wonder and care about what human relations will look like in the future.
I care about love- pure, authentic, connected LOVE. The kind of love that’s rooted deep, deep within our core beneath the webs of all fear & logic; the raw passion & burning desire that ignites & awakens every part of the soul is the fuel to life that makes it all worth living & fighting for.
I think to some degree we all seek out love, whatever perception or idea that may be. I believe that _real_ _love_ is found within oneself that does not serve to fill a void, but rather it’s an energy, emotion, or vibration that emanates from the inside out, like shooting stars, and causes a magical reaction with anything it comes in contact with. This reaction enriches every experience we have on this earth.
I care about living an inspired, purposeful life infused with the intention of love. I care about taking a stand, speaking up, expressing myself and having the patience and compassion to understand more of who I am and keeping my imagination alive to live out my dreams.
In our pure innocence, like a child living in the moment, our greatest powers come from living out of love and if we each make peace & own up to the beauty of our own existence to know that who we are, what we do, what we say MATTERS, then the Universe would be that much more colorful. In freeing up our own hearts, we light the way for others to do the same...
Everywhere I look , there are stories. We all live within a story and from time to time change our entire life because we heard a story that shook our being to the core. Those are the stories that I seek , the ones that we thought never existed , never thought of as possible, thought of as not important, or just down right ludicrous. Well, I know of people who have such stories to share and have most certainly empowered me with their words, and I believe that if I share their stories with the world, the world WILL change.
Photo Submisssion : Dee, North Vancouver