I remember the conversation vividly. My (Scott’s) grandmother was sick in the hospital and we were talking about her adventures in Africa, the photographs I used to stare at of elephants, cheetahs, tribesmen, and Monks, and how I wanted to follow in her footsteps and take my camera to Africa just like she did. I could just hear her smile. Sadly, next day she passed away and I made up my mind that I would follow through on that promise. I made up my mind to go to Africa.
I’ve always wanted to live life for something greater than myself, greater than my talent, and greater than my own dreams; to have purpose and vision beyond my own experiences. In 2006 I had the opportunity to be a founding member of a non- profit organization based out of Silicon Valley whose mission was to bring life-saving support and education to rural Ethiopian villages, families, and children. I grabbed my camera gear, passports, travel visas, my Malaria meds, and a body hopped up on the 12 different vaccinations I needed, and headed off to Southern Ethiopia where I served as a photojournalist and agricultural researcher for a small, suffering community. The people there changed my life, and I can honestly say that trip made me fall in love with the human heart and soul. Coming back and after 6 months of sickness, possible malaria, and who knows what else, I dedicated one more trip the following year and traveled back to photograph the spirit of the people beyond the poverty and suffering, further adding to my love for African culture and spirit. I haven’t been back since 2007, but it will always be my goal to go back and visit the children and families I met along the way. One day I hope to go back and continue to help the people I’ve grown to cherish and love.
Something about that whole experience, the images I took, and how people connected with an image made me further fall in love with the power of expression that comes through photography. I talked to literally thousands upon thousands of people as I shared photographs of mothers, children, and tribesman, all while trying to raise money to build life-saving water distribution points. I soon realized it wasn’t about how eloquent I was in my talks, the statistics I shared, or anything else beyond the fact that people felt connected to the faces in the photographs, and that in turn, saved lives. Something like that doesn’t just leave you, it sticks. Photographs = Emotion.