AL KUT, IRAQ: Iraqi school girls walk past a Mercy Corps water supply project where ditches are being dug for new pipes, Nov. 9,2003, in Al Kut, Iraq. The project will supply clean water for 75 percent of the city that will effect approximately 400,000 people. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Mercy Corps contest: Power of photography to help humankind

August 26, 2013 | By Maria Dias | Community

Mercy Corps is an organization that believes in the power of photography to shine a light on our shared humanity and experiences, and move us beyond borders to speak the same language: one of love, strength and courage. At Getty Images, we agree, and we are honored to support their 2013 Humankind photo contest.

The winning image was announced on Friday, Sept. 13, — a boy in Bolivia, photographed by Sergio Fernando Ribero Mendizabal — and will be included in Mercy Corps’ 2014 Calendar. The photographer will receive a portfolio review from Getty Images Content Manager Tom Wear.

What role does high-quality imagery play in telling Mercy Corps’ story?

We asked Mercy Corps Photography Specialist, Creative Services Phil Ottum for his thoughts:

“My primary job at Mercy Corps is to grow and maintain our photo library. When I first began working here, people who were unfamiliar with our work would sometimes ask me if it’s ‘depressing to look at all those sad pictures.’ Of course the reality is quite the opposite — our library, website and marketing materials are populated with positive images that reflect Mercy Corps’ mission to help people ‘be the change’ in their own lives.

We don’t use photographs that are graphic in nature or images that depict a confusing or negative story. We never portray our beneficiaries as helpless victims.

What many people don’t know about Mercy Corps is that even though we are always ready to respond with humanitarian aid in times of emergency, the bulk of our work is developmental in nature. We focus on youth, women’s literacy/vocational training, economic development, social innovations and much more. As a result, we use photographs that capture a quiet determination of spirit and character. Ones that are honest, intimate, personal, and that engage the viewer in the life of the subject. I like a smile to convey confidence more than joy.

It’s of equal importance to me that the photographs we add to our archive be exceptional images in their own right — not just effective as vehicles for marketing.

I’ve been fortunate over the past few years to work with many extraordinary humanitarian photographers, whose work is both artful and in keeping with our brand principles. And, in the past decade, I’d have to say that their personal, artistic style has been instrumental in refining our idea of what we look for in a field image. The result is a photo archive of over 100,000 assets that we’re proud of both for its effectiveness in furthering Mercy Corps’ work, but also as a stand-alone statement of our commitment to high-quality imagery.”

About Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps helps people turn the crises they confront into the opportunities they deserve. Driven by local needs, their programs provide communities in the world’s toughest places with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives. Their worldwide team in more than 40 countries is improving the lives of 19 million people.

To see a slideshow of the other great Humankind photo contest submissions, click here.

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  • Piramit Temizlik Şirketleri

    We’re human…Doesn’t matter who we are. Black, White, Muslim Christian. Thanks for photo. All around the world has a children like that.