Vancouver photographer trains camera on social justice

Half of project proceeds dedicated to photo subjects

Influenced by his travels to some the worlds poorest neighbourhoods, a Vancouver-based photographer is splitting the cheque with the subjects of his photographs.

In a new project called Half-and-Half, and inspired by his various travels through developing countries, Joshua Hergesheimer wants to bridge the stark economic inequalities between continents by bringing social justice through photography.

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Half of the proceeds from every image Hergesheimer sells will go towards bettering the conditions of the subjects in his images, which the freelance photographers explains, are the ones he credits for making the photographs possible.

Some photographers think theyve captured some decisive moment, and everything has come together just at the right time, said Hergesheimer, who believes crediting the beauty of an image to the technical and logistical ability of the photographer is a misconception of how photography works. Some people think they own that, but I felt really uncomfortable with this idea that you can take a picture of people [...] sell it somewhere, and they didnt ever really feel they were a part of it. For me, photography is more about the relationship.

Under Half-and-Half, profits from photos of people and communities will be donated to a development agency that works towards improving the conditions of those depicted in the images. Photographs of the environment will be split with conservancy groups.

Hergesheimer, who has freelanced for the Vancouver Sun, Aljazeera, and Now Public, said receipts of proceeds sent to charities will be returned to buyers.

Half-and-Half is a project that has been brewing for some time.

When Hergesheimer was 20 he took time off from his multi-subject honours studies at the University of British Columbia for a first-time trip overseas. He went to Ghana and caught the travel bug.

Now 33, Hergesheimer said Ghana was the trip that launched decade-long travels through various countries in West Africa, South America, the Middle East and Europe, fuelling his fascination at the vast economic contrast between Third World countries and North America.

His latest trip came in 2009, following his graduation from Langara Colleges accelerated journalism program. Hergesheimer, having won the CIDA-Langara College Journalism Development Scholarship, was sent to a village in Ethiopia where he documented the work of New Westminster-based HOPE International Development Agency, which tries to better daily life in the worlds poorest neighbourhoods.

The idea was to help people help themselves, Hergesheimer said.

Having finally settled back home in Cedar Cottage, Hergesheimer spends his days playing dad with his twin, four-year-old daughters Abigail and Beatrice and with his wife Holly, who is an occupational therapist.

"This isn't making me that much money, to tell you the truth," Hergesheimer said, anticipating revenues from the project. In the week-old initiative, he's processed one payment for Hope International, with three other orders to process for what he said may be the Land Conservancy of British Columbiaall totalling $130 in donations.

Despite the financial instabilities, Hergesheimer said he felt this was a project that was necessary in forming a bond, not only between the subjects involved in the photograph, but for people viewing the images.

Its not just about the Wal-martization going on, he said. Be a part of some movement to make the connection between people.

For more on Half-and-Half visit joshua.hergesheimer.ca.

kimiyasho@gmail.com

Twitter: @kimiyasho

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