Since a very young age I have been interested in other cultures and people’s well-being, in particular those who are less fortunate. After serving in the Iraq War while I was a United States Marine and returning to civilian life, I found myself drawn to returning overseas as an instructor to pursue my interest in other cultures and to impart my experience and knowledge to help keep those I was teaching safe in a combat environment. This took me to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bosnia. In each country I found the learning about and connecting with other cultures to be very invigorating, and increased my interest in doing more.
In recent years, as I have developed my photography, videomaking and storytelling in mini-“documentaries”, I found that photography in particular has been an avenue where I am able to connect to and help those who are less economically fortunate, those of whom in the global community who are deserving of their stories being told and shared in order to, one, connect on a human level with those who are often forgotten, and two, to help create awareness in, and promote action from, those who want to share their support and blessings with others. This photographic journey has led me to do some important work within my own community, particularly with an elderly population who are challenged by some significant physical and mental challenges, and who are often left by the wayside by family members.
Spending time with them and capturing their often-indomitable spirit has led to a connection that is lasting and very meaningful for all involved. This connection has also made its presence known during my two trips to Kingston, Jamaica over the last year while visiting and documenting some of the lives of the poorest of the poor. The camera has allowed me to establish a very intimate connection between myself and the people (I prefer to say “the souls”) that I encounter. It is a very sacred space that I am allowed into and I do not take it lightly or for granted. My hope and desire are to continue this type of work wherever I go and whoever I connect with, believing that we are all responsible for and tasked with using and sharing our gifts to better the world around us.
What makes you passionate about helping Azizi Life (https://www.azizilife.com)
I have long been passionate about the well-being of those on the fringes of society, people who are often overlooked and forgotten by the communities they live in and the world at large. Azizi Life’s commitment and mission to help support local artisans and their beautiful and hand-crafted work, along with other aspects of community life, such as adult literacy and Bible study classes, aligns with my own values and beliefs, and I am excited to partner with them and the people they support.
As their website states, the income that is generated by the artisans “not only helps to cover their daily needs, but also provides them with a sense of control over their own futures.” One woman mentioned is Jeannine, who says that “she was able to invest some of her money in a couple of pigs for breeding and selling.” Such ways of life are not often experienced in the Western world, and are often unknown or maybe misunderstood by the global community. Through grass-roots organizations like Azizi Life such exposure and true and lasting change can and does happen, and it is a blessing to play a part in the work that they do.
How do you believe your photography can make a difference for them?
Photography, at its best, can be and is a vehicle and powerful tool to help promote awareness and initiate action with regard to social ills and issues, assisting those who are working with and for those in our local and global communities whose voice is not often heard, those whose gifts and talents are often not seen as worthwhile, marketable, or even present.
I believe my photography will heighten awareness about the work that is being done by Azizi Life and the people that are affected by that work, and will result in, I believe, a body of work that can be used at and on various levels within the organization to help further their cause. A key to me, in all of that, and what I believe I am gifted at, is to be able to connect with the local people in a way that people viewing their pictures, on whatever medium is used, have a good sense of their beauty, dignity and value in order to better humanize them, illustrate some of what they offer to humankind and create the desire within potential supporters to help in whatever way they can.
To see some of my work from Jamaica, please visit https://alandavidlane.wixsite.com/dignifiedphotography
What message would you like to send to your supporters?
For those who know me, you know that I have a compassionate heart, shown through the service I try to extend to people in need of attention, time, and a giving and loving heart. These qualities are what I try to incorporate through my photography. I have had the good fortune of doing so in Jamaica and in my local community with an assisted living center. The connection I have been able to make with the people who are being cared for, and the resulting photographs that were a result of that connection, is life-giving and affirming as both a human being and as a photographer.
It is in that sacred space that I have been allowed into that I will be carrying with me to my trip to Rwanda in March of 2019 in support of Azizi Life (https://azizilife.com), partnering with them to help both document and explore the work and lives of local artisans and the community of which they live. Doing so will further promote and make aware the desire and need of both the local and global communities to, in their own way, support the work that is being done in order to help folks provide a living and sustainable wage for themselves and their families.