Danielle Da Silva is the CEO and Co-founder of Photographers Without Borders. Registered as an NPO in Canada Photographers Without Borders reaches out to developmental, sustainable and (because of the great work photographers have done), recognizable organizations worldwide. I was able to chat with Danielle and she shared some of her story and talked a lot about how Photographer’s Without Borders became an astounding reality.
I would really like to know what got you interested in such as self-less cause, what inspired you to dedicate yourself to Photographers Without Borders?
Well, I’ve been working in international development for a long time, developing sustainable business plans and really getting a project of the ground. And I’ve always had a camera, since I was sixteen, and before that I was really into painting in my early teens but I grew to like the camera better, it allowed me freedom to better depict the things I was trying to tell people.
Specifically, when I had just started [with a camera], I was in India and some of the things I was trying to say were just so much better communicated through photos. I felt like, once they saw the photos, they’d understand.
I understand you are getting ready for your workshop in Costa Rica, do you have any words for the preparative photographers or first time travelers?
Photographers who’ve never really done photography have applied to the workshop, honestly we have received so many applications, people who are young, people who think they want to do it but aren’t really committed. But for the people who do make it; there will be teaching, portraiture, landscape, lessons on natural light, guidelines for shooting in the field, how to build an effective relationship, best practices in the field. There is a team of two staff that I lead, its really, really educational and really fun for photographers.
Can you tell me a little bit about your achievements? Have you ever felt at any point like you have really made a difference for the better?
Well, when I started, before I graduated high school I traveled to Honduras in Guatemala. It was an eye-opening experience being somewhere on my own, you’ve got to remember that I’m relatively new to this, and I was volunteering for the first time in a culture that I was being totally immersed in. One thing you have to do when you are dropped in a new culture you must adapt, but it was really inspiring working with kids. India was our very first project, then in Tanzania, Deborah was our contact there, she was really great at extending the olive branch and it really allowed for some fantastic photo opportunities. It became so inspiring with everyday people and its an inspiring way to get others involved with small changes.
In your experience have you encountered any major obstacles or challenges that have caused you to re-evaluate your approach?
Funding, we always need more money. I mean when you’re operating within an NPO you really have to work to make everything affordable. But you know honestly, growing up, my parents weren’t very well-off so when it came time to immerse myself in cultures that live with less it wasn’t a very difficult adjustment for me. But, you know, being a photographer and a woman I really had to work at blending in. And basic conditions and language barriers are always a factor.
Do you have any particular achievements you’d like to share? Any points of pride?
When we got back from our Jordan Israel trip, how can I explain this, there are many different sides and perspectives from an ethical standpoint in Israel, I just always try to distance myself as much as possible from what I am photographing. But its also about travelling, and being a respectful traveller.
Want to learn and travel with Danielle? We have opened up two more spots in our Workshop that is taking place in September in Costa Rica. Click here to learn more!