19th August marks World Humanitarian Day and World Photo Day, so it only seems right that we take a look at the astonishing life of Humanitarian Photographer Lisa Kristine.
Kristine has spent the last 30 years documenting the most beautiful people, cultures and landscapes. She seeks out communities that are often undiscovered by the western world, and captures fascinatingly beautiful portraits of these indigenous cultures. Travelling to more than 100 countries, on six continents, the fine art prints she has produced over the course of her career, are now the most sought after and collected in the world.
Kristine photographing in Namibia
Kristine began to learn the art of photography at the age of 11, when she was received her first camera as a gift from her aunt and uncle. As a child, she would spend countless hours in the darkroom with her uncle, learning the process of developing, and this is where her love for photography grew. Unbeknown to them they had ignited a passion in young Kristine that would lead her to produce work that made immense social change in the world. Then at the tender age of 18, Kristine packed up her camera and set off in pursuit of the people she had read about in her childhood anthropology books. She felt deeply moved by the people of ancient tradition, living near the earth, and had this desire to meet them and photograph them.
Kristine soon found what she was in search of. She came across people, cultures and places time forgot, and captured truly captivating photographs of the people she encountered along the way. They were humanistic portraits spanning the planet, that introduced a notion that we are all connected as human beings. She fell in love with exploring every inch of the world and the people in it, that she didn’t return home for 5 years.
Two Parasols, Myanmar – Lisa Kristine
In spite of her extensive travels, Kristine found herself stunned one evening in 2009. She had been invited to exhibit her work at the World Peace Summit in Vancouver, when she met a supporter from Free the Slaves. Free the Slaves is an international organisation, established to campaign against the modern practice of slavery around the world. Suddenly her eyes were opened to the dramatic effect of slavery, and Kristine was saddened by what she learnt. She explains how she knew it existed to some degree, but had no idea how many people were still effected by it. Immediately Kristine felt she had to help educate people on this problem, and in 2010 collaborated with Free the Slaves in order to do so.
She has worked with them on an international level, to help free people from slavery and rebuild their lives, while also working with governments to produce effective anti-slavery laws, in hope to someday eradicate the problem entirely. She further travelled the world, but this time seeing the unseen. Travelling into the heart of broiling brink kilns, down rickety mine shafts and into hidden lairs of sex slavery, she witnessed some of the most horrible abuses imaginable, but was astounded by the glimpses of the indomitable human spirit she saw also. She was able to capture the harrowing lives of the enslaved, and produce a series of hauntingly beautiful photographs that would form her book entitled Slavery. The proceeds from the sale of these fine art prints, were donated in order to help fund the work, and Kristine subsequently received the Lucie Humanitarian Award for her work with Free the Slaves.
Price of Gold, Ghana – Lisa Kristine
Whats most striking about Kristines work, is her ability to capture the raw emotion of the individuals she is photographing. She explains how in order for her to photograph a person in this unaffected environment of ‘self,’ there must be a firm trust between them. Kristine would travel with a translator so she could converse with the people she met, and build relationships with them, leading to beautiful images that were stirring also. Kristine believes that photography is “the ultimate tool for peacemaking.” To stare into the eyes of a person located halfway across the world is to feel prejudice slip away from your body. There’s an instant connection that is created, not between strangers, but between human beings.
In 2012 Kristine even spoke about her experiences, over the course of her career, in a TEDx Talk. The video, which has over 2.5 million views, tells the harrowing stories of her time in places such as Congo and Nepal and has been described as having the “… most gripping opening I’ve ever seen in a presentation.” by Carmine Gallo in his book Talk like TED, the 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds. This opened up Kristines work to a whole new audience, people she hopes to help her make change in the world.
Today Kristine continues to travel the globe, in the efforts of promoting human dignity by educating the public and driving awareness about social causes, while embracing everyone she meets along the way.